Tag Archives: drama-rama

Squeaking out a series win. Or: The Bullpen Olympics and the Utility-Player Hoedown.

For all intents and purposes, the Chicago White Sox played themselves this week.

There were runners stranded everywhere, sporadic (at best) offense, and failure to execute in the clutch. The fact that the White Sox squeaked out 2 wins in the last 3 games is, again, a testament to our pitching – and possibly the random nature of the universe.

However, kudos to the bullpen. I’m pretty sure that when we went into this series, no one was going to expect Ohman to grab a loss, followed by wins for Bruney and Crain. The deciding run came in the 13th inning, the 9th inning, and the 10th inning in each of these games.

I had the Colorado feed for the first 2 games of this series. I’d bet good money that the people who work for Roots Sports in Colorado haven’t been watching the White Sox this year. Firstly, they seemed surprised when we didn’t score with runners in scoring position, they were impressed with the number of double plays that the Rockies were able to turn, and seemed to not realize that Juan Pierre has been struggling of late.

However, it turns out that Juan Pierre really likes playing in Colorado, going .500 for the series and missing a grand slam by about a foot below the top of the RF wall (seriously. Juan Pierre. there aren’t even words for the surrealness of this.) – but still managing to drive in three clutch RBIs today.

Also of note, we started the game with a Sunday afternoon lineup on a Thursday. Aside from Omar, who has historically hit very well against Aaron Cook, it seemed as though the rest of the lineup was pulled out of a hat – with Quentin, Konerko and AJ (who combined for all of our RBIs and 3/4 runs from the win yesterday) on the bench.

Jake Peavy had a relatively good outing, aside from the first inning, but certainly not as good as his relief appearance the other day. Juan Pierre likes playing in Colorado, but Adam Dunn went from striking out to grounding into 2 double plays. And, when we were down by 4-1 in the 7th, it seemed like the lack of offense had the writing on the wall. However, when we squeaked up to 4-2 (Gordon Beckham finally had a good offensive day), the regulars started sneaking into the lineup and the day started looking up.

    Original Line-Up –> Final Line-up

  • 1. Juan Pierre LF
  • 2. Omar Vizquel 3B –> Mark Teahen 3B
  • 3. Adam Dunn 1B –> Mark Teahen 1B –> Paul Konerko 1B
  • 4. Alex Rios CF
  • 5. Mark Teahen RF –> Brent Lillibridge RF
  • 6. Alexei Ramirez SS
  • 7. Ramon Castro C –> AJ Pierzynski C
  • 8. Gordon Beckham 2B
  • 9. Jake Peavy P –> (Carlos Quentin) –> Will Ohman –> (Brent Morel) –> Chris Sale –> Jesse Crain –> Sergio Santos

What it boiled down to in a nutshell was: We used everyone on our bench and by the end of the day, our lineup looked more like a Friday night line-up. This series started out with the bullpen olympics followed by the utility-player hoedown and somehow, we ended up scraping wins 2 out of 3 days.

It was weird and it was messy, but we’re scuffling right now, so I’ll take it.

Now, back to the North Side and, well, at least the Cubs went extra-innings today, too. But, someone should probably send bottle of Aleve, a case of Red Bull and a massage therapist over to the White Sox bullpen, just in case.

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There is no “I” in team. Or: It’s never dull on the South Side.

I ❤ the White Sox. They frustrate the snot out of me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love ’em.

And, today was certainly a day on the South Side.

When your starter leaves the game after 1 2/3 innings of work, you have at least 2 problems. One: your starter is injured. Two: You have to make it through at least another 7 and 1/3 innings.

When it happens on a day after your entire bullpen was used in an epic 14-inning rollercoaster (and, not to mention that your traditional “long man” is on the DL), you have a whole extra set of problems.

Well, Brian Bruney (DFA’ed by Washington last year, coincidentally) came out and pitched 2 1/3 and then Jake Peavy made his first career relief appearance. His previous 238 appearances in the big leagues had all been starts. Anyone who follows the White Sox knows that when he was about to come off the DL, Peavy offered to take a place in the bullpen, if they wanted to disband the 6-man rotation and they felt that he could help from the pen. He’s an amazing competitor and, obviously, a real team player.

“We manage and coach big games, bad games, close games. But [I won’t forget] this one, just because the way the team stuck together at that particular time,” Guillen said. “When Danks went down, everyone knew much we were struggling in the pen. We couldn’t use a couple guys and all of a sudden three guys came up and said I’m ready to go just in case you need me. That’s class act. As a team, I hope this thing takes off to the next level and we start playing better.”

“I think Peavy jinxed it,” Guillen said. “He went to my office before the game and said, ‘[If] you need me, I’ll be available.’ I said, ‘[If] we need you, we’re in trouble.’ Well sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you say. All these games I’ve been managing in my career, I think this one I’m not going to forget.”
(Click here to watch Ozzie talk about the awesome team spirit attitude today in his post-game press conference)

Serendipitously, AJ Pierzynski was sitting out today (giving his knees a rest after the 14 inning Friday game) and had to catch for Peavy while he was warming up in the bullpen. Professionals and competitors, they appeared to have forgotten about their disagreement during Peavy’s last start, so we obviously all should as well.

I haven’t given out a gold star in a while, but I think today definitely deserves a gold star.

Peavy was dealing. 7K, 1H, 0BB and 0R in 4 innings of relief. If he hadn’t hadn’t had to sit so long on the bench while we grabbed a couple of insurance runs in the 8th, he wanted to come out and pitch the 9th. We were happy for the insurance runs and, hey, it’s always nice to watch Santos deal out a 3-out save.

And, since we’re focusing on the positive today and ignoring the nagging negative stuff: Brent Lillibridge continued his streak of diving in the outfield to save runs for John Danks (even when he’s not in the game anymore). Rios and Morel went 3-for-4 and Ramon Castro continues to be the best back-up catcher in the American League (and, I’m biased and I don’t care).

So, one more chance to eek closer to .500 tomorrow. But, win or lose. I still love my boys.

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And, the benches were cleared. Or: 14 innings is a long, long ballgame.

So, last night we lost a heck of a fight in 14 innings. Ozzie said post-game that he couldn’t tell if they played well or if they played badly. In reality, there was probably a little bit of both. There were some flashes of utter brilliance, followed by the same old story of failure to execute. And, there was just some plain old bad luck. And, I think we all feel a little bit like Matt Thornton (see left). Last night and this morning.

The Good: Mark Teahen improbably tied the game in the bottom of the 9th with his first pinch hit home run (a 3 run bomb). And, then we tied it up in the bottom of the 10th on a wild pitch. And, then AJ Pierzynski (riding a bit of a hot streak himself) tied it up again in the bottom of the 11th with a solo HR. We were gritty and scrappy and that was fun to see.

The Bad: We had 2 men on with 1 man out in the first two innings and couldn’t score any of them. We had the bases loaded with one out and couldn’t get anyone across the plate. We had a very-poorly timed error in the top of the 14th inning that was the catalyst for the winning runs. We are still the guinea pig for everyone else’s running game. We used everyone on our bench and, not to mention, our entire bullpen did a few days worth of work and they’re all going to be exhausted today. Not a great thing on the first day back from an off-day. In fact, had we not lost it in the 14th, Phil Humber would have been our next reliever – making a reliever out of one of our 6 starters for the second time this year.

The Bad Luck: There was a close call that went our way when it didn’t really matter (but have you EVER seen Paul Konerko confront an umpire before? I think we probably won that call on the basis of Paulie being pissed off for the first time in recorded history.), there was a close call that didn’t go our way when it really mattered, and – for the first time in a long time- Adam Dunn hit a 2-run homer that would have completely changed the landscape of the game and it was robbed from over the outfield fence.

In conclusion: UGH. It was the battle of the blown saves, and we came out on top. Or bottom. Or, you know, on the losing end.

And, I’m trying not to think about the last time we did the 14-inning loss. It was a month ago in Toronto and Edwin Jackson got the loss (though, he certainly pitched better last night) and then Johnny Danks was up the next day and we got our read-ends whipped soundly by the Blue Jays (14-3, was it?).

I worry for our interleague streak right now. And, of course, the continuing quest for .500.

Edited early afternoon to add:
So, my pet theory that Johnny Danks refuses to pitch unless Brent Lillibridge is in the outfield continues to be substantiated. In Danks’ last three starts (ie: his first three wins of the season), Brent has made a highlight-worthy, run-saving catch. The CF layout against SEA, robbing Coco Crisp of an 8th inning HR against OAK, and knocking a would-be HR back into the park for a no-RBI double instead of a 2-run homer against ARI.

And, here we are today with #18 getting the start in LF. Granted, it’s probably b/c in the hit-parade that was last-night, Juan Pierre went 0-fer, but I like my theory, so I’m sticking with it.

My brain is a fun place to live, thanks for asking.

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Today’s loss was sort-of inevitable, but not this way. Or: Too bad we can’t ask for a do-over.

Well, when the Tigers went up 2-0 instantly and Edwin Jackson needed 40-something pitches to get out of the first inning and the White Sox didn’t have a hit until (I think) the 4th inning, I didn’t have a great feeling about today. Which is why this loss seems somewhat inevitable. With the amount of baserunners that Detroit had today (they left 10 on base, courtesy of a total of 9 hits and the fact that the White Sox pitching staff walked a combined 7 of their guys today). It seemed like the game should have been 37-0 for them by the end of the 4th inning.

And, then, in the 5th, a 2-run HR by Beckham tied it up and we were back in it. There were ups and downs from there, but it never seemed like either side had a good hold on it from then. In the 7th and 8th, Chris Sale pitched a bit, followed by Jesse Crain in the 8th (and makes a fantastic double play) and then again in the 9th, still tied at 2. He gives up a lead-off triple and then manages to get the next two guys to pop-out and strike-out and avoid a sacrifice fly – because he is just that awesome.

And, then, with first and second empty, whoever was steering this ship today decided to pitch to the cleanup man (Miguel Cabrera). And, then, on the 1-2 pitch, BAM! A two-run homer to RF. I think maybe that decision wasn’t so hot in retrospect.

So, as was sort of expected from the 2nd inning, this one goes in the loss column. I just wish it wasn’t on a play everyone will be regretting in the morning. Jesse Crain is better than that loss, I think. Though, I’m not ruling out the possibility that I’m biased. I don’t think I’ve pulled out a sad Charlie Brown photo since I moved to wordpress, but today’s post needs a little help from the Peanuts.

However, in the “things that do not entirely suck” column: The Brent-Brent defensive duo was out in full force again today. Morel with another heads-up line-out at 3rd (among others) and Lillibridge falling (literally) into the lap of the people sitting in the first row along the right field foul line (among others). Morel keeps this up and someday that glove could be gold (BOLD PREDICTION TIME. Note – I did not say that he would keep it up, but I can hope!) and if that play of Lillibridge falling into the crowd doesn’t appear online, I am going to be disappointed. Because it’s been at least 3 days since he’s had a video added to my defense page. (And, not to mention, that all HRs look kind of the same, and yet we get a video of every one of those. I think this was just as worthy. <– PET PEEVE ALERT)

And, not that I think this will magically solve all of the White Sox’s issues, but I really hope Paul Konerko starts feeling better soon.

Tomorrow is a new day. Thank goodness. :)

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Some amusement for me on a ChiSox off-day. Or: Things I would miss, if not for Twitter.

(Just when you thought an off-day was enough to keep me from posting….)

So, I follow @MLB on Twitter. And, it’s not unusual that the person/people responsible for posting content to that account make me crack up on a fairly regular basis.

And, today was no exception. I clicked on the following tweet, and I’m glad I did. I normally don’t have even the faintest clue what is going on in the NL (clicking the image will take you to the video), so I would have missed this completely.

This has got to be one of the stranger things to transpire in either league of MLB so far this season. And, just when you think it can’t get more strange, it totally does. Don’t worry, you don’t need any context. You’ll have just as much idea of what is going on as the people, you know, on the field.

And, another thing that adds to the wackyness? This whole thing was going down in the middle of NINE RUN COMEBACK (also worth checking out). Man, tickets were worth the price of admission today.

(And, because I have about 14 other things I should be doing, this is all the post you are going to get from me today. You’re spared my random thoughts on my special love of the utility bench-player until another day.)

Hope the Sox are enjoying their day off, but I’ll be excited to see them back in action tomorrow. Go Sox!

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Today was almost a double-header. Or: More wacky Canadian hijinks. (Up close and personal.)

Before I talk about today (which, believe me, I will), I have to mention one thing about last night’s 4-2 loss in Toronto. I had to laugh a little in exasperation when John Farrell tried to argue that Mark Beurhrle was pitching too quickly. Ordinarily, I don’t have much to say about the newly-minted Blue Jays manager, but that was slightly silly. I know that his current superstar likes to take the opportunity to stretch out every muscle in his back as frequently as possible (and, I have truly nothing but respect for Jose Bautista and the amazing numbers he is putting up, and he really seems like a very genuine person, from most accounts), but I’m not sure that the little-used rule that says that the batter can’t wander in and out of the batters box and has to be ready when the pitcher sets, has a clause about the time that a pitcher must wait between successive pitchers. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

His speedy nature is the thing I like best about watching Beurhrle pitch. Sign, Set, Throw. No rituals, no head-shaking negotiations with the catcher, he just gets the sign, and he’s ready to go. All business, all the time. He did a great job and, as always, it was a pleasure to watch him pitch.

Now, onto today. Game one of my two-day adventure to The Rogers Centre Sky Dome.

I’m now going to try to talk about 14 innings of baseball in 200 words or less (and fail miserably. Bear with me, there were a lot of memorable things about today. Because I am biased. And, I was there. Which always makes it more memorable.)

The Highlights:

  • The LINE-UP. Getting to T.O. and getting this twitter update? Was awesome.
    However, at the end of the day, the starting line-up almost became irrelevant in the face of the way the game ended up unfolding. I was kinda bummed that I was missing both Gavin Floyd and Mark Beurhrle, but getting Omar (get well soon, Beckham!) and Lillibridge in the line-up for my first game of the season was exciting. Omar is, well, Omar and Lillibridge has been such a spitfire this year, I was looking forward to seeing the both of them.
  • Getting to hang out and watch the Sox just having a good time during batting practice. Even Dunn almost seemed relaxed.
  • The roof was open in time for the game. Everything’s better with the roof open.
  • Falling behind thanks to current Home-Run King Jose Bautista’s 20th HR of the season so quickly in the first inning didn’t sting so much after Brent Lillibridge stepped up to the plate at the top of the second and BLAM! A 2-run HR of his own.
  • Watching Edwin Encarnacion hobble (literally) to and from the plate for a pinch-hitting appearance that was met with boos was kind of a downer. He and Adam Dunn could proably have a chat, though I wonder if it would end up helping or hurting both of them. But, man, he sure had the same beat-up expression on his face.
  • The completely over-the-top booing EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Rios came to the plate was almost unbearably obnoxious. I was embarrassed on behalf of my hometown.
  • Jesse Crain, being pulled into the game in a typical post-Thornton-meltdown 2-on, 2-out, Jose Bautista at the plate, Juan Rivera on deck scenario, finally gives it up. Just like Sergio, it was bound to happen to him eventually. But, he’s still my clutch-man. Getting it right 9-times out of 10? He’s more than earning his salary in my book.
  • My biggest (biased) source of frustration today? Well, since I was sitting behind third base, I had a stellar view of the Jays’ outfield not having a clue what to do with Lillibridge’s extra-base hit in the 8th. And, also, of Jeff Cox punking out at third base put up the stop signal when there was more than enough time for him to make it home for an inside-the-park homer. The Jays’ defense had clearly given up on the play (seriously. They were practically having a conversation), sure that Lillibridge’s speed would have him halfway to home. The outcome ended up the same, when Lillibridge scored on a passed ball about a minute later. BUT IT’S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING.
  • Did I mention Chris Sale pitched 3 great innings of relief? In a pressure-situation? Who knew?!
  • When I get done here, I am adding Brent Lillibridge’s almost-blooper-turned-wacky-defense to my ❤ defense page. It was the only time today I missed having the instant replay.
  • So we’re in the top of the 11th, and in comes Quentin to pinch hit for McPherson (who was in after pinch-running for Konerko in the 9th) and signalling the offical start of Dugout Musical Chairs.

  • Carlos Quentin to RF –> Brent Lillibridge from RF to 2B –> Omar Vizquel from 2B to 1B and Sergio comes into the game for 2 familiar-looking awesome innings. At this point, it is important to point out that it appears Omar is using Adam Dunn’s first baseman’s glove.

  • Because, for the final out of the inning, Patterson (more on him later) grounds out to Omar’s giant novelty-sized glove and he bobbles the ball a couple of times before flipping it to Santos, who was ready and waiting.
  • At this point, I will take a break from the long-winded recap and draw your attention to the header across the top of my blog.
    1. Jesse Crain – check. 2. Omar Vizquel – check. 3. Sergio Santos – check. 4. Brent Lillibridge – check.

  • And, at some point in the 12th inning when pretty much the only thing missing (for me) from this game popped up onto the LCD running between the second and third deck: Gavin Floyd was in the bullpen. CHECK. Finally. It only took 13 innings, but when he came in, Ozzie finally made good on his promise of beefing up the bullpen with the starting guys. And, the people in front of me finally clued in that I wasn’t rooting for Toronto. My hat was very subtle, obviously.
  • As Ozzie pointed out after the game, pretty much nothing happened offensively for the Sox (or the Jays) until the bottom of the 14th when Corey Patterson (the strangely, but wisely, appointed DH) blasted a walk-off homer in Gavin’s second inning of relief. (Who, up until that point, was pitching like the Dr. Jekyll half of his pitching personality.)

In conclusion: a long, LONG game (I actually *had* to get up and stretch during the 14th inning stretch. My lower legs were starting to go numb). Ups and downs for everyone. And, if I have to watch a loss, at least it wasn’t a one-sided shutout and there was lots of good baseball to be had (and, okay lots of less-than-good as well). And, at more than 4 hours, I certainly got my (ticket and gas) money’s worth. My “drama-rama” (for noteworthy games) and “some people can do everything” (for my utility players) tags have never been more appropriate. At least for me. After today, I’m WIPED.

And, now, it’s time for me to eat some dinner, catch up on the rest of the league, and start hoping for a win tomorrow, when I do it all over again.

Go Sox!

(and, if you made it to the end of that, I feel like you deserve a cookie. and, thank you.)

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North-of-the-Border 9th inning drama. Or: The Sox play the Jays and wacky hijinks ensue.

It’s no surprise to anyone who has watched any appreciable amount of White Sox baseball so far in 2011 that we have had (more than) our fair share of late inning drama.

It’s also (apparently) no surprise to everyone who has watched any of the Blue Jays’ action, that the same could be said about them.

Scoreless until the 5th, when A.J. Pierzynski singled, Omar Vizquel singled, (Beckham popped out) and Juan Pierre singled to Bautista in RF and AJ managed to beat the throw (seriously). The Jays tied it up in the 6th and that’s where it was when Jesse Crain came out to replace Phil Humber in the 8th. Patterson on first, Bautista at the plate and two out. A typical “let’s call Jesse” scenario, really. And, typically, Bautista walks and Jesse Crain makes it out of the inning safely.

Which, obviously, opened the 9th inning floodgates.

The thing that was the surprise was that, often, the Sox have let it slip away in the end, and the Jays have a tendency to come roaring back.

But, today, Alex Rios ends up with a single, but reaches second on a throwing error (I have a soft for Johnny Mac and was surprised it was him who opened the door) and then third on a wild pitch. Gordon Beckham gets HBP and then steals second (no, really!) and then both of them score on a ANOTHER throwing error. 3-1 Sox, and that’s where it ends (after Santos comes in and turns off the lights on the Jays).

Other random oddities about tonight?
-Juan Pierre had all of our RBIs
-AJ, Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, and Omar had all of our hits
-Quentin and Konerko, (and Dunn) were 0-fer
-the ChiSox caught someone stealing (on a sketchy call)
-the ChiSox stole 2 bases
-Phil Humber pitches 7.2 awesome innings, Jesse Crain walks Bautista and gets Rivera to ground out and manages to bag the W (and, hey, I’ll be happy any time Crain gets a win – and he deserves it for saving the collective butts of the White Sox on a very regular basis – but, at times, the win/save/loss/hold/etc rules are still some of the most non-sensical rules in baseball).
-It’s entirely possible that AJ actually has more friends in Toronto than Alex Rios. Wowie. Apparently the Jays fans know how to hold a grudge, sheesh.

It’s like this entire game was turned on its head, like Canada is opposite-land.

Today’s post deserves photos of the pitchers because, when you get down to it, it really was a pitcher’s duel.

See you on the flip side, y’all.

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