Tuesday, May 29, 2007


After a disappointing Memorial Day weekend, the White Sox sit in third place in the A.L. Central, 5. 5 games behind the Cleveland Indians and 3.0 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the Wild Card berth. The Magic Number is 121, down a bit from the last Update. (Travel prevented the Update from publishing since last Wednesday, which is just as well, since there wasn't much good news to report.) Ozzie continues to search for a winning lineup. Going into yesterday's action, he had employed 35 different combos. Many were dictated by injury; some by rest; but a fair number resulted from the hunt for the winning formula. Enter the Update, with the best lineup the Sox can put on the field given the players on the Big League roster right now. (Team record not counting yesterday's game when player bats in that spot listed in parentheses.)
  1. Erstad (18-12)
  2. Iguchi (11-8)
  3. Thome (12-7)
  4. Konerko (16-12)
  5. Dye (15-9)
  6. Pierzynski (7-5)
  7. Crede (9-5)
  8. Uribe (6-4)
  9. Terrero (2-2)

The combined record is 96-64 with this lineup. Not too shabby. The Update challenges you -- and Ozzie -- to come up with a better batting order that covers all the positions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Time for a by-the-numbers edition of The Update, or as we like to call it, "We do the math so you don't have to":

  • The White Sox win, 10-4, over Oakland while the Indians lose, cutting the Magic Number to 124 and Cleveland's lead to 3.5 games. The Tribe's Magic Number over the Sox is 117.
  • The Sox have won three straight and 11 of their last 16.
  • Jim Thome was 3 for 3, with a single, double, home run, walk, and five RBIs.
  • Yesterday's game was the fourth in a row in which the Sox banged out 10 or more hits, and improved their record when they reach double digits to 7-3. (The Update would have thought it would be better than that.)
  • The Sox are now 17-2 when they outhit the opposition, as they did yesterday.
  • Rookie John Danks won his third straight game. Maybe Kenny Williams knows what he's doing after all.
  • The Good Guys are now 20-5 when they score four or more runs in a game; they're only 3-14 when they score three or fewer.
  • Opponents have outscored the Sox in the first two innings by a margin of 51-35, despite yesterday's 6-0 Sox lead after two innings. The Sox have outscored the opponents 143-135 after the second inning.
  • Yesterday's win was only the second of the year on a Tuesday (2-4). The team is .500 on Wednesdays (4-4). If you want to see a win, go on a Thursday, when the Sox are 4-0.
  • The Sox are 7-4 in the third game of a series so far this year, which bodes well for today.
  • Finally, the Sox have been in third place in the Central Division for 22 days. They have spent one day in first place and fifth place; two days in second; and 24 days in fourth.

Go Sox!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The White Sox, fueled by a season-high 14 hits, held on to beat Oakland last night, 8-5. Jose Contreras pitched well enough to get the win, but the bullpen continued to make it interesting. Mike MacDougal walked two and gave up a hit on the way to allowing two runs in the eighth, and Bobby Jenks walked one and gave up a hit before shutting down the A's for his 14th save. While Jenks continues on a healthy 55-save pace, the bullpen has been a little iffy of late.
Going into last night's game, the relievers had blown three saves in the last 11 games, while racking up a hellacious ERA of 10.66. That contrasts with the nifty 3.29 ERA of the first 27 games. The series against the Cubs was even worse, as the bullpen's ERA was 17.47 and the Cubs' batting average against them was .455. It's not all bad though. On the season, the Sox have managed a 15-4 record when leading after six innings; their opponents are only 12-5. The Sox are 15-2 when leading after seven; the opponents, only 15-5. And the Good Guys are 16-2 when leading after eight; the opponents are slightly better at 16-1.
All of this has led to a lot of close games this year. Last night's win was the 17th time this season out of 22 victories that the Sox have won by three or fewer runs -- 86.4%. By contrast, last year's team notched only 58.9% of their wins by the same margin. The Update doesn't know if that's due to the Sox scoring fewer runs (before last night the team was averaging 4.0 runs per game, down from 5.7 per game at the same point in 2006) or the aforementioned relief pitching. Probably a combo of both.
Anyway, the win reduced the Magic Number to 126. It allowed the Sox to remain 4.5 games behind the Indians, who won again last night. The Tribe is now 17-4 in games where they bat last. (The Update hesitates to call them home games since two of them took place in Milwaukee.) Despite the two disappointing losses to the Cubs over the weekend, the Sox have won 10 of their last 15 games and have the fifth-best record in the American League. They're 4.0 games behind Detroit in the Wild Card race, so the postseason is definitely a realistic possibility. Now it's up to John Danks, who is 2-0 with only three earned runs allowed in his last two starts, to shut down the Athletics. Go John! Go Sox!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Jon Garland pitched the White Sox to a win in the rubber match of their three-game series with the Yankees. Garland gave up only six hits and one run in seven innings. Bobby Jenks garnered his 13th save in 14 chances and is on pace to save a phenomenal 57 games this season. Jermaine Dye provided all the runs on a homer, double, and sacrifice fly. For you Ozzieball fans, the sac fly had to have been the favorite, as it came after Pablo Ozuna sacrificed the runner to third. The Update still thinks it's a bad percentage move -- and has the statistics to support its view -- but is of course happy when it actually yields a run.
The win chops the Magic Number to 129 over the Indians, who have taken over first place. The Sox trail Cleveland by 3.5 games, and are only 2.5 games behind Detroit, which currently holds down the Wild Card berth. The amazing thing about the Sox and their 20-17 record is how they managed to do it while hitting so poorly. And we're talking epically poor.
The Sox are the only team in the American League to have a winning record while scoring fewer runs (141) than they allow (154). They are last in the major leagues in batting average (.222), at bats (2214), hits (270), doubles (47), and triples (2), and are 27th out of 30 in OPS (.666). Their opponents are not only outscoring them, but are outhitting them too (.234 BA and 290 hits). We all believe that the hitting woes can't continue, so there's reason to be optimistic. If the 20-17 Sox can play at an 88 win pace with these stats, just think of what they can do once the bats start coming around.
This weekend would be a good time to start, as the Good Guys invade Wrigley to take on the Cubs. Ozzie is taking the Crosstown Series seriously enough that he's going to start Jose Contreras on Sunday on three rather than four days rest. Don't tell me it's just another series and that all 162 games count the same. Go Sox!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Detroit lost last night, so the White Sox pick up a game on the Magic Number (131) and a half-game in the standings (third place, 3.5 games behind the Tigers). Given how poorly the Sox have hit this season, it's amazing that they're doing as well as they are (18-16, .529). Only the four teams in each league that would make the playoffs if the season ended now have a better record: Red Sox, Angels, Tigers, and Indians in the A.L. and Mets, Braves, Brewers (Brewers?), and Dodgers in the N.L. The Sox are only 2.5 games behind the Tribe for the Wild Card berth, so all is far from lost despite the lowest batting average and run total in the league. If White Sox batters ever catch up with their pitching brethren, look out.
Speaking of cold bats, tonight's opponent, the Yankees, have a few of their own. Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, and Alex "Mr. April" Rodriguez are a combined 3 for their last 54 at bats, a .056 batting average. The task of keeping those "hitters" in the deep freeze will fall to John Danks, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. New York will counter with Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, and Matt DeSalvo. The temperatures for the three game set are supposed to be in the 70s today and the 60s tomorrow, so the cold weather, cold bats mantra we've heard all season about the Sox shouldn't come into play. Get hot. Go Sox!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The White Sox took two out of three from the Royals over the weekend, winning two close games (5-4 and 2-1) and getting clobbered in the finale (11-1). The Magic Number dropped from 135 to 132, and the Sox find themselves in third place, 4.0 games behind Detroit. They trail the second-place Indians by 2.5 games and are 1.5 games ahead of the Twins.
This week, the Sox face the two teams their fans love to hate: the Yankees and the Cubs. The Yanks are 17-19 and the Cubs are 17-18, a bit worse than the Good Guys, who are two games over .500 at 18-16. Following those traditional rivals, the 19-17 A's come to town, followed by the Devil Rays, who are 18-22. In other words, it's a good time to play some decent ball. All of these teams are very beatable, unfortunately including the White Sox. Maybe this will be the week that the Sox take off. Maybe this will be the week that Gus Molina gets his first career hit -- he's now up to 0 for 16 and counting. Go Sox! Go Gus!
The really big news this weekend belonged to Update daugther, Allison. On Friday, she got a new job as a teacher for next year. On Sunday, she got her Master of Education degree. And sandwiched in between, she got engaged to boyfriend Chas. The Update is very happy. Go Allison & Chas!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jose Contreras pitched a five-hit, complete-game shutout yesterday afternoon, leading the White Sox to a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the Metrodome. (By the way, the Update's crack research staff determined that the temperature inside is a pleasant 70 degrees, a touch cooler than 72 degree standard set by the Grandaddy of Domes, the Astrodome, back in the day.) Along the way, Contreras managed to cool off Torii Hunter, ending Hunter's 23-game hitting streak. Contreras's effort was the 16th consecutive outing in which a Sox starter has pitched at least six innings. (The starters have been streaky all season long, notching earlier streaks of five and three games in which they went six innings, sandwiched around two streaks of three games and a single game in which they didn't.) The complete game means that Bobby Jenks didn't get a save in a Sox win for only the fifth time all season. Before yesterday, Jenks had saved 73.3% of the Sox's victories, an obscenely high percentage. (Consider that at that rate, Jenks would have had 66 saves in last year's 90-win season.)
Yesterday's victory and Cleveland's defeat leave the Sox with a Magic Number of 135 over both the Indians and the (now) first-place Tigers. The Sox moved ahead of the Twins into third place in the Central Division, 4.0 games back of Detroit. They've got a good chance to gain some ground as the Kansas City Royals come to the Cell for a three-game set. The pitching match-ups look good, with Jon Garland taking on Perez, Mark Buehrle facing Elarton, and Javier Vazquez hurling against De La Rosa. In other words, the Sox avoid having to face Gil Meche, KC's $55 million man. And the schedulemakers have the Sox in Chicago for their next 15 games (17 days). After the Royals, the Yankees come to town for three games, the Sox play three at Wrigley, and then host three each against the A's and Devil Rays. It's time to get that home field advantage back. Go Sox!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


With apologies to Bob Hope, the Update says "Danks for the memories." Sox rookie pitcher John Danks notched his first career win last night, giving up only one run on three hits in 6.2 innings. The story line almost became "Danks for nothing," as the bullpen frittered away a portion of the 5-1 lead they were handed. Mike MacDougal gave up two runs and left two more runners on base before Boone Logan came in to fan Justin Morneau on three breaking balls. (Hey, Oz, where was Logan on Wednesday night when Morneau hit his walkoff home run in the tenth inning?) In the ninth, Bobby Jenks walked two before settling down to get the next three batters to record his 11th save. Along the way, Danks was helped by a very nice running catch by Darin Erstad that saved some runs. (Torii Hunter one-upped Erstad though, robbing Juan Uribe of a bases-loaded, extra-base hit on an over-the-shoulder, falling-down, on-a-dead-run catch at the wall in center.) So, in the end, I guess the catch-phrase in this 6-3 win is, with apologies to Elvis, "Dank you. Dank you, very much."
By the way, the other day the Update told you that the Sox had averaged nine hits in games where the temperature is at least 70 degrees. In each of their two games in the climate-controlled Metrodome, the Sox have banged out nine hits. The temperature doesn't seem to affect Gus Molina, however. His average is the same no matter what the thermometer reads. Molina has as many hits this season as I do -- none. He's 0 for 13 on the season, which makes him 0 for 13 in his career. It would have been nice if he'd have earned a beer bath for getting his first career hit the same night that Danks earned one for his first win. One rookie who is looking pretty good though is Ryan Sweeney. He's hitting .261, which on the Sox this season is among the team leaders. He looks fast and seems to be an improvement over Brian Anderson.
Anyway, last night's win plus a rare loss by Cleveland chopped the Magic Number down to 137. The Indians' lead over the fourth-place White Sox is back down to 4.5 games. And the Sox are back to .500 for the eighth time this season (nine if you count 0-0). They've never been worse than two games under or better than three games over .500, so there's a certain (unsatisfying) consistency about their record this season. But all that's going to change, starting this afternoon. Go Sox!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

139 (Day Three)
Riddle me this, Ozzie. In the tenth inning, why do you intentionally walk Torii Hunter to set up the force and then not hold him on first base so that he strolls down to second, not even earning a stolen base because it's ruled "defensive indifference"? Or why do you not walk Hunter in the eighth inning with first base open and then watch him drive in the tying run? (Oz answered that one by saying he never wants to put the winning run on base intentionally, which the Update sort of understands.) Whether questionable strategy made a difference or not, the Sox lost last night, wasting a fine performance from Javier Vazquez. Javy tossed seven innings, giving up only one earned run on four hits, seven strikeouts, and one walk and left with a 4-1 lead. The relievers couldn't hold it and the Sox dropped a game they should have won.
The Update warned you this might happen. Check out the April 30 blog entry, which told you not to get too comfortable if the Sox jumped out to a lead on this road trip because they'd allowed the home team to come from behind to win five times. Last night's defeat was the third "come from ahead" loss out of four total losses on this current trip. (The Update also encouraged you not to give up on the Sox if they fell behind in these games because they'd come from behind themselves in all of their prior road wins. This trip, they've done it once out of their two wins.)
The loss means the Sox are now 5.5 games behind Cleveland and the Magic Number is stuck on 139. The Good Guys can't afford to let the Indians run away from them, so they need to get their game in gear. At least the bats were working last night in the temperature-controlled Metrodome. Maybe today the Sox figure out a way to beat the Piranhas. Go Sox!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

139 (Day Two)
The Cleveland Indians won again last night, picking up another half game over the rest of the idle Central Division. That leaves the White Sox with a Magic Number of 139, sitting in fourth place, 4.5 games behind the Tribe. Cleveland's Magic Number vis-a-vis the Sox is 130 and their Magic Number over the second-place Tigers is 133. The Indians' lead is nothing that can't be overcome, but it's time to start whittling away at it.
As every Sox fan knows, the problem so far this year is that White Sox bats have been cold -- figuratively and literally. The Update looked at each box score this season to determine the temperature and number of hits. We confirmed what we believed to be the case: As the temperature goes up, so does the number of hits. The Sox have played five games with the temperature in the 30s and have gotten only 31 hits, an average of 6.2 hits per game. For games in the 40s, they've collected 39 hits in six games for a per-game average of 6.5. For the five games in the 50s, they've accumulated 36 safeties, an average of 7.2 per game. In the seven games in the 60s, they've banged out 54 hits, or a per-game average of 7.7. There've been only four games played in the 70s, but the Sox have knocked out 36 hits, for an average of 9 per game. And in the sole game when the thermometer reached the 80s, they also reached base safely nine times. It looks like the answer to this season's lumber slumber is a little global warming. Go Sox!

Monday, May 7, 2007


The Magic Number finally moved off of 143, with the White Sox winning twice over the weekend and the Indians losing two games. That slices the MN to 139, and leaves the Sox in fourth place, four games back of Cleveland and Detroit. The wins were encouraging. On Saturday, the Good Guys racked up ten hits, their first double-digit total in forever, and six runs, while getting a Quality Start from Jon Garland, who earned his first win of the season. Bobby Jenks picked up his ninth save. On Sunday, A.J. Pierzynski smashed a two-run, game-tying home run in the eighth inning and drove in what proved to be the winning run in the tenth, with a two-out single. A.J.'s hits were among the nine that the Sox collected on the day. Bad Bobby notched his tenth save, striking out the side, the last batter on a 96 mph fastball.
While 19 hits in two games isn't bad, it's too early to declare the hitting drought over. Among the ten players who batted for the Sox on Sunday, only Darin Erstad at .267 and newcomer Ryan Sweeney at .250 were hitting .230 or better. The pitching hasn't been half bad, but the batting has held the team down to a .500 record (14-14). The weekend's good hitting needs to continue if the Sox are to have a chance against the Twins in the upcoming series in Minnesota. The good news is that we're 9-7 on the road. The better news is that they're 8-9 at home, which is usually one of the great home-field advantages in all of baseball. The best news is that the Sox don't have to face Johan Santana this series and Joe Mauer is on the DL. The Sox have got a fighting chance to do some damage up there, but to do that, they need to do some fighting. Not literally, of course -- although don't put anything past sometimes pro-wrestler Pierzynski -- but they have to show the kind of fighting spirit that they did in the two wins this past weekend. Go Sox!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

143 (Day Four)

John Danks's hard luck story continued yesterday, as the rookie starter fell to 0-4 after a 3-2 White Sox loss to the Seattle Mariners. Danks gave up only six hits, two of them homers, two walks, and three runs in 6.1 innings. He once again received poor run support, the Tribune reporting that "the Sox have provided Danks with only four runs in his five starts." And once again, all of yesterday's Sox runs came via the homer, courtesy of Paulie Konerko and Jermaine Dye. The offense is way out of sorts right now, and with Jim Thome and Scottie Pods on the DL, it doesn't show signs of getting better any time soon. But this team is too good not to hit, so have faith Sox fans.
The loss was the fourth in a row, the last three of which have come after the Sox grabbed the early lead. So maybe it is the pitching after all -- it just has to be about perfect and then we'll win some games. Because Cleveland keeps winning at an absurd pace, the Magic Number remains the same. Unfortunately, so does the Sox position in the standings -- fourth place in the Central Division. They're 4.5 games back of the Tribe and below .500 again. The Update refuses to believe that the Sox aren't a better team than this. Hell, a week ago or so, they were tied for first place in the Division. All we can say is Go Sox!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

143 (Day Three)

These are no fun to write when the White Sox lose, which they did last night, 5-2, to the Seattle Mariners. Javier Vazquez was saddled with his first loss of the season, giving up four runs on six hits in 7.1 innings. Mike MacDougal allowed one run on one hit before yielding to Matt Thornton, who got the last two outs without giving up a tally. But pitching wasn't the real problem for the Sox. Hitting was. Or more precisely, the lack of hitting. The Sox managed only four hits on the night: a home run by just-called-up-from-the-minors Luis Terrero; a meaningless single by Joe Crede; and a homer and single off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski (who according to the Tribune, was supposed to be given the night off, but Ozzie didn't want to start Gus Molina with all the other subs in the lineup). It hurts that Jim Thome is hurting and on the DL, as is Scottie Pods, but what's going on with the rest of the team? Time to snap out of this hitting funk.
At the Wizards-Cavaliers playoff game on Monday, the guy next to me commented that almost all of the white guys in the NBA are from another country, which led to a discussion of the demographics of baseball teams. I noted the declining number of African-American players, while he said that he thought that half the players in the Majors were Latinos. While I think he was engaging in a bit of hyperbole, I noted that but for injury replacements (Molina, Andy Gonzalez, and Terrero), the Sox would have only five Latinos on the 25-man roster: Alex Cintron, Jose Contreras, Pablo Ozuna, Juan Uribe, and Vazquez. By contrast there are 18 Caucasians, along with Tadahito Iguchi (Japanese), and Jermaine Dye, the sole African American on the team. That last number is particularly surprising given that it's been 60 years now since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. I don't know if the Sox are unusual in their roster makeup, but it's kind of interesting. Anyway, Go Sox!