Tag Archives: pitching is the art of instilling fear

The White Sox still like to play the Indians. Or: The White Sox might just be the most mentally fragile team in the history of baseball.

So, the White Sox beat the Indians. They beat them earlier this season and they beat them again last night. Because the White Sox beat the Indians this year.

Last night’s game was another low-scoring affair with great starting and relief pitching, some pretty good defense and the White Sox runs coming off of the bat of a Quentin home run. That’s pretty much the story of this season. That seems to be the White Sox formula (with the Quentin home run sometimes being a Konerko home run). Fortunately, it held up last night. If the Indians had put on Minnesota Twins jerseys, the lead wouldn’t have held up. If they had put on KC jerseys, the game would have gone 12 innings.

It’s just somewhat incomprehensible that this line-up has turned into he 2011 White Sox I’ve been watching for the last few months. My (die-hard Blue Jays fan) brother said to me the other day that he looks at the White Sox roster sometimes and can’t believe how good it is and even the non-Whie Sox diehard fans are completely perplexed as to what happened to our offense.

But, back to last night’s game. To summarize, the pitching was stellar, the defense was good, and the offense was pleasantly adequate. I’m certainly not looking for a 15-0 bludgeoning of the opposing team every time they play, but a little more hitting with runners in scoring position would be really, really nice. Really nice and probably somewhat essential for any hope of contention this season.

And, of course, most notably, Gavin Floyd’s good twin showed up to pitch last night and I’m glad the offense was able to scrape together enough runs to support his effort.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome back, White Sox. Or: So, the cure for what ails the White Sox is the future AL Cy Young winner?

So, it’s both very surprising and not-at-all surprising that the White Sox won the opener against Detroit. On one hand, Verlander has been unrelentingly brutal on hitters and it’s no secret that our offense has been somewhat… lacking. On the other hand, for some reason, the White Sox seem to do better against team over .500 and worse against sub-.500 teams. So, really, you never know what you are going to get.

Sure, I spent the first 3+ innings just praying SOMEONE would get a hit. I really didn’t want to watch a no-hitter. But, then when Gordon Beckham (!!!? I know, right) came through, followed by Mark Teahen (again, what??!), it was off to the races.

Firstly, and most importantly (other than Beckham initially calming my nerves and being my hero of the game by breaking up the no-no), was the return of the good Gavin Floyd. Gavin Floyd is as good as anyone else out there, but he’s so inconsistent (I think he probably needs to borrow Adam Dunn’s sports psychologist sometimes), you never know what you are going to get. But, last night, he out-pitched Justin Verlander and it made me a very happy sports fan (and, okay, a Gavin Floyd fan) and, aside from the one bad pitch, he was a pleasure to watch. I fully acknowledge the fact that he can have an utter meltdown any day of the week and he can be incredibly frustrating, but I’m still convinced that he has no-hitter stuff in there somewhere and I can keep hoping. :)

And, it was nice to see a happier mood around the White Sox camp after the game today. Rumor has it that ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ made it into Gordon Beckham’s locker after the game, but he moved it to Gavin’s locker. Both of those sound about right to me.

It was a good game. At the very least, I’m just happy that (almost) everyone got in on the action and there was actually offense. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I would be thrilled if they didn’t feel like they had to rely so much on the home run to win ballgames.

There was a lot of good baseball last night: the Charlotte Knights won (White Sox AAA team) with John Danks on mound in a fantastic rehab start, the Jays won, the Rays won, KC made a late comeback against the Twins, and Juan Rivera hit a HR in his first at-bat as a Dodger.

It was good to be back.

Hopefully, it’s the start of a lot of good things for the second half.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

2 Games Down. One more to go. Or: Interleague play loves the ChiSox.

Well, 2 games against the other Chicago team and 2 wins. Which means that, regardless, we have won two series in a row. I’ll take it.

I feel like I need to say something. I get incredibly frustrated sometimes with things in the ChiSox camp, but I love my boys. I love that they’re nice guys who show up and paint schools and community centers on weekends. I love that they have a giant cut-out of “the most interesting man in the world” in the locker room that always ends up in the locker of the game MVP every day and obviously get along. I love that the ChiSox are a home for misfit toys and Don Cooper seems to be able to piece them back together. And, though it might not be popular opinion, I also love Ozzie. I love that he says (and tweets) what he thinks. I love that he wants everyone’s kids in the clubhouse and that he defends his players (maybe even to a fault) and that he puts himself in the line of fire and that he LIKES his players and that he and the rest of the staff seem to care about them.

And, I know we can all be Sabermetrics experts from our sofas, and we all know there are lots of things we would do differently, given the chance. But, the truth is, we all exist in a vacuum in our living-rooms and we don’t have to deal with the economics of the game and the politics of the front office and there is obviously so much more to it than just filling out the line-up card every day. And, yes, even one or two better OBPs in the line-up would be tremendously helpful, I don’t think 1 single kid from AAA is going to magically save this team. And, Ozzie’s not perfect, but neither am I and neither is anyone else. So, at least for the moment, I’m not quite ready to see the end of Ozzie-ball in Chicago, and I hope that the Powers-That-Be aren’t either.

I am also aware, however, that I would be a terrible manager, general manager, third-base coach and – heck – probably a terrible ballgirl as well, so this is mostly just more of my uneducated rambling.

Other things of note:

1. Juan Pierre is on a bit of a streak. You can’t argue with a hot bat and, at least for the moment, his is on fire – driving in the winning run 3 games in a row. Today, he flaired a single into LF which: 1) broke up a no-hitter in the 6th. 2) broke up a shutout, and 3) was the winning RBI. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

2. Brent Morel is shining in the number 2 spot and if he keeps up his defense at 3B, I will personally start the write-in campaign for his gold glove next year all by myself. He’s still young and makes some “rookie mistakes” (that term exists for a reason, y’all) and he still doesn’t hit for average, but he is still putting together some highly intelligent at-bats and he managed to draw a four-pitch walk today – which might be the first of his career. He’s campaigning to get in the next version of the header that I make for this blog.

3. Quentin’s cooled off a bit, we are going to have to play Adam Dunn – minimally – when there’s a right-hander on the mound, and I think everyone wants to see Paul Konerko in the lineup, so today was probably as good a day as any to give Q (who has a .avg similar to Dunn’s over the last 10 days) the day off. Of course, Dunn had a line-out and 3 strikeouts (103 so far for the season), but I don’t think a single ball was hit to RF while he was there, so there’s that. Paul Konerko has cooled off a little lately – which is like saying that Jose Bautista is slumping when he goes 3 games without a home run. We’ll probably see Adam Dunn at first base tomorrow. Which, really, is fine. If we’re really in this for the long-haul and PK needs a day off, I’d rather have it after taking at least 2/3 from the Cubs and have him sharp for the upcoming intra-division stretch we have coming. It’s a little short-sighted, I think, to wear PK out by the time you really want him hot.

4. Philip Humber. Again. There’s not much to say about this kid that hasn’t been said. He was having a rough day, his control was all over the place and his best inning was 13 pitches. But, that being said, even though he gave up 5 hits, walked 3, hit a batter and didn’t have an inning with fewer than 13 pitches – he still ended up with a shutout.

5. Big thumbs up for Matt Thornton today with a perfect 8th and 9th and collecting the save when Sergio Santos needed a day off. Our bullpen is still awesome.

6. Last, but most certainly not least:

At least for one day, we’re a .500 team. It’s not much normally, but things have been so much worse than that, so it really is a cause for celebration.

Happy Day Before The Yankee Exhibition Game All-Star Game Announcements, y’all.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Not much fun on the west coast today. Or: Another extra-inning disappointment extravaganza!

So, I’m worried that the Chicago White Sox pitching staff is going to stage a mutiny.

Another long, long, long, long low-scoring game with almost no offensive production. The pitching staff, from the top to the bottom, have been giving the Sox chance after chance after chance to win ballgames – not just today. But, over and over and over again. But, as usual, we found the White Sox in the middle of another 13-inning offensive meltdon with about 257 runners left on base and the bats going to sleep well before the 7th-inning stretch while breezing through the vast majority of the bullpen. Again.

Seriously. If I were a position player on this team, I would be sleeping with one eye open. And keeping myself alert for tar and feathers and flaming sticks. Somewhere, there is a stat about how many losses each team has when their starting pitcher gives them a quailty start. And, I bet the White Sox are winning.

At least no one else in the AL Central wants to win the division either (ie: the Indians, Tigers and Royals all lost today today, Minnesota being the only team with a W today). Giant pile of suck.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A couple in the win column. Or: Would Paul Konerko hit 80 home runs per season as a D-back?

Well, the White Sox ended their three-game losing streak over the last two games. And, I’ll get to that in a minute. But, first, it’s time to talk about a member of the White Sox I don’t talk about much.

Paul Konerko is having a ridiculously awesome June. Coming into this weekend, he was batting .404 for the month of June, with 6 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs.

The rumor mill was (loudly) whirling in the off-season and it seems like the D-Backs were interested in signing Arizona-native Paul Konerko as a free-agent.

After this weekend, they are probably wishing they’d tried just a little bit harder.

Being at home must really agree with him, as we watched him hit a HR in each of the three games in this series. He was just generally on fire. Ozzie originally had planned to sit Paul today and let Adam Dunn play 1B, but honestly, you could practically plug Adam Dunn in at third base and almost still be better off, just by keeping Paul in the game. Well, obviously, that isn’t what happened, but Adam gave a (mildly slumping) Carlos Quentin a day off in RF – a position he has at least played before, albeit 2 years ago with the Nationals.

There were a lot of fun highlights this weekend, but there were a few things to be particularly happy about.

Saturday – John Danks took a liner off his head – AND THEN CONTINUED PITCHING, GETTING THE WIN. Brent Lillibridge managed to catch (and subsequently drop) *another* home run (I think John Danks is going to start requesting Lillibridge in the OF when he pitches) and prevented the tying and go-ahead run from scoring. Paul Konerko hit his daily homer, but even more remarkable was the 3-run BOMB from Alex Rios. Felt like we’d been waiting for that one forever. And, then another great inning of work each by Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton.

Sunday – The typical Sunday afternoon lineup was in full effect. Phil Humber continued to pitch like our staff ace – making the case for a hefty raise next year – and both Juan Pierre and AJ Pierzynski seemed rejuvenated by sitting on the bench for the previous game. Mark Teahen did well at the hot corner (though, not a ton of pop in his bat) and Omar Vizquel was his usual productive self. Paul hit his daily home-run and, after Adam Dunn (0-for-3) struck out, so did Alex Rios. Again.

The real fun was the 8th inning. Singles by Juan Pierre and Omar. Ramirez drives in a run with a groundout. So, 1B is empty and they finally IBB Konerko. Bad idea. Brent Lillibridge (replacing Adam Dunn) singled, Rios reached on an error. So, the bases are loaded and AJ ripped his second double of the game and with the speed of Lillibridge and Rios behind Paul, all three of them scored. We haven’t had a five-run inning in nearly long enough. There was a little more drama than was strictly necessary (keeping Humber in one batter too long and a slight bullpen incident), but we managed to pull it out and, Santos (former Diamondback first round draft pick – as a shortstop) came in for the 9th and looked a lot more like himself than he did against Oakland.

So, the blue wristbands were in full effect on this Father’s Day.

And, it should also be mentioned that because of the “Home Run Challenge”, the 2 HRs by the boys in black (and blue!) donated a healthy 5 figures to prostate cancer research and awareness.

Great timing for those home runs all around, really… :)

Well, that was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

Like, tomorrow. Let the Crosstown Cup begin!

(And, the quest for .500 continues!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized