Sunday, June 29, 2008


How sweep it is! The White Sox won 5-1, completing the sweep of the Cubs in front of 39,573 fans at the Cell and a national TV audience on ESPN. Mark Buehrle, who seems to have put his early season problems behind him (at least for now), was brilliant. Buehrle threw seven innings, gave up only one (unearned) run, six hits, two walks, and whiffed five batters in evening his record at 6-6. In relief, Scott Linebrink faced three batters (thanks to a 5-4-3 double play) in a scoreless eighth to earn his 19th hold. Bobby Jenks, who warmed up while it was still a save situation but came in anyway after the Sox grabbed a four-run lead, gave up a walk and a double before closing out the game on a snappy double play and a grounder to Alexei Ramirez.
The double play in the ninth, one of four on the night, came on a sharp liner to Nick Swisher at first, who made a perfect throw to Orlando Cabrera to double up the runner at second. Swisher was also involved in an odd DP in the third inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Ramirez snared a line drive and threw to first to try to complete the double play. Swish was able to catch the ball but fell on his ass doing so, couldn't get the out at first, and so was forced to throw from a sitting position to Cabrera to double up the runner on second -- a rare 4-3-6 double play. Ramirez added a nifty backhanded grab of a ground ball over second that he flipped with his glove to Cabrera while continuing to his right and got the force. Also worth noting was a ball that went right between Joe Crede's legs, which led to the Cubs' only run of the game. The error was Crede's 15th of the year, a pretty high total for a third-sacker who is thought of as Gold Glove-caliber.
All five Sox runs came on homers. Carlos Quentin hit his 19th (a 405 foot blast in the fourth), Brian Anderson poked his 4th (a two-run shot in the fifth), and Jim Thome clobbered his 15th of the year and 522nd of his career (a 421 foot drive in the eighth). The Sox improved to 42-15 when they go yard, and 25-7 when they do it more than once in a game. They're now 27-11 at home, a .711 winning percentage. There must be some promotional tie-in that the Sox and 7-11 can arrange to take advantage of that number. At that rate, the Sox should win five of the seven games left on this homestand -- three with Cleveland and four with Oakland. But we Sox fans are greedy; we want two more sweeps.
Interesting Notes, Part I: Cub manager, Lou Piniella, was tossed in the second inning for arguing that a checked swing was actually a strike. While replays show Piniella may well have been right, he committed the unpardonable sin of coming onto the field to argue balls and strikes. The ejection seemed a bit quick, but The Update was happy to see Sweet Lou go and leave his team without its leader. It's hard to say that really made a difference in the game, but then again, neither did the blown strike call as Crede struck out anyway.
Interesting Notes, Part II: In the eighth inning, Swisher had a 3-2 count on him when the pitch struck him. It was scored as a hit-by-pitch rather than a walk, even though it was ball four. We don't know why it would be one over the other. Not that it matters.
With the win, the Magic Number moved down to 80. The lead over the Twins moved back to 1.5 games. At the halfway point of the season, the Good Guys sit atop the Central Division with a 46-35 record. The 11-game over .500 record matches their high for the season, last attained on June 10. Let's keep it going. Go Sox!

The White Sox earned a chance to sweep their North Side rivals by coming back twice to edge the Cubs 6-5 on Saturday. Carlos Quentin's 18th home run, a solo shot to right field in the top of the ninth of a 5-5 game, provided the winning margin. Q's homer was one of three on the day for the Sox. Jermaine Dye also slugged his 18th, in the first inning, and Alexei Ramirez led off the fourth with his fifth home run. Joe Crede drove in a run with a double off the wall in left and saved at least a couple with a diving catch of a line drive in the hole between short and third.
Javy Vazquez didn't really have it, giving up five runs on five hits and three walks in 4.1 innings. But fortunately, the bullpen was brilliant. Boone Logan, Nick Masset, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, and Bobby Jenks combined to shut down the Cubs over the last 4.2 innings. Thornton, who picked up his fourth win, was particularly impressive, fanning four of the five batters he faced and throwing in the mid to upper 90s for his entire stint. Linebrink earned his 18th hold, and Jenks notched his 18th save, after giving up a leadoff double and having a man on third with only one out. Collectively, they're the best relief pitchers in baseball.
The Update talked with Quentin after the game and found out some interesting information about Saturday's hero. Q told us his favorites in a number of categories:
  • fast-food restaurant, Qdoba
  • movie, The Queen
  • old TV show, Quincy
  • book, Don Quixote
  • fictional character, Quasimodo
  • U.S. President, John Quincy Adams
  • car, Nissan Quest
  • fruit, quince
  • number in Spanish, quince
  • Who album, Quadraphenia

If you talk to him, ask him some more favorites and post your answers as comments to this edition of The Update.

Going into Sunday night's game with the Cubs, the Sox have chopped the Magic Number to 81 and hold a one game lead over the Twins, who beat Milwaukee in a Sunday day game after losing to the Brewers the day before. Go Sox! Sweep the Cubs!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Now that's more like it. After being swept by the Cubs last week in Wrigley, the White Sox turned the tables on the North Siders today, crushing them 10-3 in front of a full house at the Cell. The game was effectively over after the third inning.
In the top half of the frame, Jose Contreras, who got the win (six innings pitched, three runs and seven hits allowed), worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing a 5-4-3 double play. In the bottom of the third, the Sox sent 10 men to the plate and scored seven runs. With one out, Orlando Cabrera got things started with a single that he stretched into a double, taking the extra base on Eric Patterson, a second baseman stuck in left field. (That's only fitting since the regular left fielder, Alfonso Soriano, is a second baseman stuck in left field, at least when he's not on the DL.) A.J. Pierzynski drove in Cabrera with a single that Patterson misplayed and allowed A.J. to end up on third. Carlos Quentin doubled to right, scoring A.J. Jermaine Dye's single to left drove in Q. After Jim Thome walked, Dye stole third. Joe Crede walked to load the bases, and Nick Swisher delivered the big blow, a Grand Slam home run, the third of his career.
Of the 14 White Sox hits, Cabrera (two hits), A.J. (two), Q (four), Dye (three), and Swisher (two) combined for 13 of them -- Juan Uribe got the other. Thome, who was reduced to being a pinch-hitter the last six games, must have been a bit rusty, going 0 for 4, with a walk. Kosuke Fukudome (we're gonna need a trained stunt announcer to pronounce his name without offending someone) went 2 for4 as the Cubs' DH. So much for the theory that the Sox would have the advantage at the Cell because of the DH. By the way, Dye robbed Fukudome of an extra-base hit, if not a homer, to end the game. J.D. leaped, caught the ball, crashed into the wall, fell to the ground, but hung on to the ball. To quote Hawk, "Mercy!"
Since the Twins came from behind again, this time to beat the Brewers, the Magic Number moved down only to 83, and the Sox remain only a half-game in front of Minnesota. We need to continue to take care of business against the Cubs and not worry about the Twins. Let's take advantage of the home field advantage at the Cell Go Sox!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


John Danks was the story on Thursday. He excelled at all phases of the game, leading the White Sox to a 2-0 win over the L.A. Dodgers. Danks notched his fifth win of the season and first in interleague play by tossing six innings of shutout ball and giving up only four hits. The goose-eggs allowed Danks to lower his ERA to 2.62 overall and a Major League-leading 1.48 on the road. (He did receive three innings of scoreless relief from Matt Thornton, Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink, and Bobby Jenks, who picked up his 17th save.) Danks also ended his career o-fer at the plate by picking up his first hit in the Bigs, a single. And Danks helped his own cause with a leaping snare of a line drive and quick throw to first to complete a much-needed double play. The DP contributed to the Dodgers' futility -- 0 for 9 -- with runners in scoring position.
The Sox had only seven hits against Dodger pitching. But Alexei Ramirez provided Danks all the runs he needed with a broken-bat single that drove in Jermaine Dye. Carlos Quentin added an insurance run by plating Orlando Cabrera, the second, and last, run of the game.
The only downside was Don Cooper, the pitching coach, pulling his left hamstring while kicking items in the dugout. Coop was angry about being thrown out of the game for arguing a checked swing call. We suspect the Sox will place him on the DL to clear space for Paul Konerko who's due back on Monday at the earliest. Just our tongue in cheek attempt to raise the question as to whose job's in Jeopardy when Paulie returns. Who is Pablo Ozuna or Juan Uribe, Alex?
With the win, the Sox took their first road series of the month, cut the Magic Number to 84, and preserved a half-game lead over sizzling Minnesota, who's now won nine in a row. It's amazing that the Sox are still in first with the Twinkies as hot as they've been, but the Pale Hose have now been atop the division for 68 days.
Since "Number" is our middle name -- or at least one of them -- let's take a look at the numbers for the upcoming series with the Cubs.
  • The Sox are 6-5 on Fridays, 6-7 on Saturdays, and 7-5 on Sundays. (Thursdays offer the best chance for a win; they're 9-2 then.)
  • They've got a 16-12 record in days games (Friday and Saturday's games) and 27-23 under the lights (Sunday's game, which is on ESPN).
  • The Sox like to play on grass (40-25) much more than on turf (3-10).
  • They're 28-12 against righty starters, whom they face the first two games, but only 15-12 against lefties.
  • The Sox are 15-11 in the first game of a series; 11-15 in the second game; and 15-6 in the third game.
  • Finally, the Good Guys are 24-11 at the Cell and the Paper Boys are 16-20 on the road.

Let's hope the long plane ride back from L.A. doesn't adversely affect the Sox and that the sCrUBS get stuck in bad traffic on the Ryan. Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It was a long time coming. The White Sox finally won a game on the road in June, beating the Dodgers 6-1. That's right, their last win away from the Cell was when they beat the Rays on May 29. So Mark Buehrle's sterling pitching performance last night was more than welcome after nine consecutive road losses -- it was downright critical. Buehrle lasted eight innings (for the fourth consecutive start), giving up only one run, scattering six hits, allowing no walks, and striking out two. Mark Sweeney, Buehrle's second victim, swung and missed at a 1-2 pitch to become his 1000th career K. (Good thing, Sweeney didn't go down looking; we don't have a backwards K key on our keyboard.) The game moved along with typical Buehrle dispatch, lasting only two hours and five minutes.
The Sox batters did their best to make it last longer, collecting 11 hits. Every Sox starter hit safely except Pablo Ozuna (a late sub for Joe Crede, who was out with back stiffness for the first time since his back surgery) and Buehrle, who shouldn't even be batting to begin with (stupid National League rules). Recent callup DeWayne Wise had three hits and was only a homer short of the cycle. Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Quentin each had two. (By the way, I drew the "Q" tile in Scrabble two nights ago and had to trade it in because all the "U" tiles were blocked. A lot of good that Q-word tribute to Carlos Quentin did me.) Jermaine Dye hit his 17th home run, a two-run opposite field blast in the four-run eighth inning. Dye has been white hot (should that be White Sox hot?) lately, having hit seven homers in his last eight games.
Even the fielding was top notch last night, save for an error by Ozuna. The Sox turned three double plays. The last one came courtesy of Alexei Ramirez, who made a spectacular sliding catch of Jeff Kent's pop fly in center field and threw to first base to double up Matt Kemp.
With the victory, the Magic Number dropped to 85. The lead in the A.L. Central remained at 1.5 games as Minnesota used back-to-back ninth inning home runs to edge San Diego. Sure the Sox have lost several games off their lead, but the Twins have won seven in a row and still haven't caught the Good Guys. Today is the 66th day that the Sox have been in first place, contrasted with only 22 days that they've been out of the lead. Of course, what really matters is where they are on the last day of the season. Go Sox!

Monday, June 23, 2008


The Sox-Cubs games this weekend made The Update think of two famous shower scenes. What the Cubs did to the Sox was reminiscent of Psycho, with the Cubs as Norman Bates repeatedly sticking a knife into the heart of the Sox/Marion Crane. It also made us wish that it were like the scene in the TV show Dallas where Pam Ewing wakes up to see husband Bobby step out of the shower and finds out that all the bad things that had happened over the past year -- including Bobby's death in a car accident -- were just a bad dream. Unfortunately, this was a real baseball nightmare. Not only did the Sox lose three to the Paper Boys, but the Twins won three from the Diamondbacks. The Magic Number is right where it was when we left you -- 86 -- but the Good Guys' A.L. Central lead has shrunk to 1.5 games. And now the Sox have to spend their off day flying across the country to play three games against the Dodgers, and then they fly right back again to play the Cubs the next day. At least those games will be at the Cell, where the Sox have a great record, and the Cubs will be on the "road," even if that road is just the Kennedy and the Ryan. Go Sox!

Friday, June 20, 2008


And the hits just keep on coming. And the runs, too. Yesterday, White Sox bats remained hot, producing 15 hits in a 13-8 come-from-behind win over the Pirates. Pittsburgh jumped out to a six-run lead after Pablo Ozuna (playing third base in place of Joe Crede, who had the day off) threw wildly on a force play that would have ended the top of the second without any runs scoring. The Sox rallied for six runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, took the lead in the third, allowed the Pirates to tie it up in the fourth, and regained it for good in the fifth.
Except for Brian Anderson, every Sox starter collected at least one hit, with A.J., Jim Thome, and Alexei Ramirez getting two, and Ozuna and Jermaine Dye garnering three. In fact, except for B.A., every Sox starter had a higher batting average for the game than he has for the season. The barrage of homers continued, as well. Jermaine Dye belted two, including a grand slam, and had 6 RBI. Orlando Cabrera's blast tied it up in the second. During the series, the Sox scored 37 runs on 44 hits, including 10 home runs, against Pittsburgh. During the month of June, the team's hit .316 and scored 115 runs. The Update is sorry to see the Pirates go.
Gavin Floyd, who is now 8-3, wound up getting the win despite allowing seven runs on five hits in 5.2 innings. Since six of those were unearned, coming as a result of Ozuna's error, that means Floyd came within one out of a quality start. Maybe he deserves the win after all.
The Sox cut the Magic Number to 86 and held steady at a 4.5 game lead over the Twins, who completed their own sweep of the lowly Nationals. But now the real excitement starts. Not that we need to tell you, but the Sox head 8 miles north to play the Paper Boys (they're still owned by The Chicago Tribune for a little while longer) in just a few hours. Les Reiter, who provided updates by cell phone from yesterday's game -- thanks, Les -- reports that today will be the first time that the regular season City Series has been between two first-place teams.
The good news is that the Cubs are on their longest losing streak of the year. The bad news is that it's only three games. Hell, the Sox have had three losing streaks that long and some much longer. The other good news is that the Sox get to sleep in their own beds during the series. The bad news is that they have a losing record on the road. The best news is that we're Sox fans. The other best news (never mind the grammar) is that we're not Cubs fans. Go Sox!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The White Sox have the sixth best all-time record in interleague play; the Pirates are No. 30, dead last among Major League teams. So it was no surprise that the Sox emerged with an 8-2 victory last night at the Cell. Mark Buehrle cruised through eight innings, not allowing a hit until the sixth and giving up only four hits and two runs on the night, to post his fourth win of the season. It marked the third consecutive outing that Buehrle lasted eight innings, a stretch in which he's given up only four earned runs. And Buehrle's three strikeouts last night raised his career total to 998, which means he should reach the 1000 K milestone when the Good Guys play the Dodgers in L.A. next week.
Sox batters, who have not supported Buehrle very well this season (4.26 runs per game going into last night), continued their hot hitting. Eight of the 10 Sox batters reached base safely, with only Alexei Ramirez and Jermaine Dye taking the collar. Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Quentin had two hits apiece, including Q's 17th homer. Brian Anderson's hit was his third homer of the season, and Toby Hall's was his first dinger for the White Sox.
Ozzie continued his streak of repetitive quotes after the game: "Everybody has to contribute. Everybody has a job to do. Everybody has to chip in a little to be what we want to be.... It's not an easy job ... performing the way they perform." It's not "double talk," but there ought to be some term to describe his speech pattern.
Last night's triumph took another bite out of the Magic Number, which is now down to 87. The lead remains 4.5 games over the Twins and 6.5 over the Tigers, both of which won, but increased to 7.5 games over the Indians, who lost. The Sox, being at home, where they're playing .676 ball, now have a 78.8% chance of sweeping the woeful-on-the-road Bucs (.361 winning percentage away from the ketchup bottle). Get the brooms ready. Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Maybe they just needed a rest. Monday's day off yielded benefits yesterday, with White Sox bats coming back to life in a 16-5 thrashing of the Pirates. The offense was so potent that the Sox managed to score 16 runs despite leaving nine men on base.
That's what happens when you get 19 hits. Other than Carlos Quentin (who was 0 for 2 with three walks), every starter had at least two hits -- Nick Swisher, Orlando Cabrera, and A.J. Pierzynski had three each -- and every starter scored at least once. DeWayne Wise, who is taking the roster spot of the injured Paul Konerko while Paulie's on the 15-day disabled list, picked up his first two hits as a member of the Sox.
Dr. Long Ball also made a house call at the Cell. Jermaine Dye slugged his 12th homer of the season, Joe Crede smacked his 15th, Cabrera poked his fifth, and Jim Thome moved into a tie with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 16th place on the all-time list with the 521st homer of his career (and 14th of the season).
The beneficiary of this largess was Javier Vazquez, who notched his seventh win despite a second straight subpar outing. Javy gave up only five hits during his six innings, but they led to five runs before Octavio Dotel, Nick Masset, and recent callup Adam Russell blanked the Pirates for one inning each.
Even Ozzie was in fine form yesterday, dishing out a double-dose of quotes or, more accurately, a dose of double quotes. See if you notice a pattern here:
  • "... a win is a win."
  • "He struggled. He struggled all game long."
  • "Well, we gotta get it when we gotta get it."
  • "Hopefully, ... we swing the bat the way we know we can swing the bat."

Maybe Oz should be managing in New York, New York. Nah, let's give the only manager in our lifetime to bring a World Series championship to Chicago a chance to repeat that feat.

With the win, the Sox were able to chop the Magic Number to 88 and keep their 4.5 game cushion over Minnesota intact. Cleveland and Detroit are now tied for third, 6.5 games back of the Good Guys. The Sox get a chance to beat up on Pittsburgh again today. The Pirates have the fewest wins in interleague play of any team, 58. They also have the fewest interleague games played, by far, with 155. The next fewest is the Cubs' 161. The Sox, by contrast, have played 200 and won 109. Let's make it 110. Go Sox!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Since this is the White Sox Magic Number Update, we'll take care of business and tell you that the Sox, despite dropping two out of three to the N.L. worst Colorado Rockies over the weekend, managed to cut the Magic Number to 89 and are clinging to a 4.5 game lead over the Twins. Watch out for the Indians, only 5.5 behind the Good Guys, and the Tigers, just a half-game farther back. But what we really want to talk about is not the Tigers, but Tiger. Woods, that is.
If you missed his performance at the U.S. Open, start kicking yourself now. Rinse and repeat. Playing on one good leg -- his left knee underwent surgery just eight weeks ago, in case you've been in a sensory deprivation tank for the last two months -- Tiger limped and grimaced his way around Torrey Pines South yesterday, alternately playing poorly (another double bogey start) and well. It all came down to the final hole. Rocco Mediate was the leader in the clubhouse at one under par for the tournament. Tiger and his playing partner in the final pairing, Lee Westwood, were tied for second one stroke back. Both of them wound up on the 18th hole with birdie putts to force a playoff, Woods having gotten there the hard way -- tee shot into a bunker, horrible second shot into the rough, and an approach that left him a tough 12 foot, side-hill putt to tie. Westwood, who was a bit farther away but had a better angle, committed the unpardonable sin of leaving his ball short of the hole. That left it to Tiger, who curled his ball into the cup and moved himself into a tie with Mediate.
Unlike every other golf tournament, the U.S. Open breaks ties by playing a full 18 hole round the next day -- only if there's a tie at the end of that extra round does it go to sudden death. And while we think that Rocco becoming the oldest golfer to win the Open at 45 would make a good story, we love Tiger. But love him or hate him -- and why would any sports fan hate him? -- just hope he didn't do permanent damage to his knee on Sunday and doesn't do so on Monday.
Speaking of ties, remember Nate Silver? Probably not, but there is a White Sox connection here. He's the University of Chicago grad and baseball stats guy who correctly predicted the Sox's precise record in 2007, when nobody else thought they'd be that bad. Well, he's turned his statistical analysis to political prognostications, and while he's forecasting Obama as the winner, he's also talking about a realistic scenario where the electoral votes are split down the middle -- it requires the Democrat to pick up a few more states than Kerry did and a split of the Nebraska delegation, which is apportioned based on Congressional districts -- and the election gets thrown into the House of Representatives. Fortunately, the United States Golf Association isn't running things or they'd have them do the entire election over.
So, Go Sox! Go Tiger! And since The Update has already endorsed Obama based not on his politics -- we keep that stuff out of it -- but on his being a White Sox fan, Go Obama!

Friday, June 13, 2008


It was bound to happen. We all knew that the White Sox weren't going to go through the rest of the season without losing. But did they have to lose three in a row? To the Tigers? While they piled up double digit hits in the first loss to Detroit, the bats fell silent in the last two games. Maybe it's time for another tirade from Ozzie.
Anyway, the Colorado Rockies are just what the doctor ordered. They stink on the road, posting only a .294 winning percentage, while the Sox are playing .645 ball at home. According to the Bill James Log5 method of estimating the odds on winning a single game, the home Sox have an 81% chance of beating the road Rockies. As Captain Picard (not to be confused with Captain Konerko, or even Captain Kangaroo or Cap'n Crunch) used to say, "Make it so."
The only good news over the last three days is that Minnesota's losses prevented the lead from shrinking too much -- it's still 5.5 games -- and cut the Magic Number to 91. Now it's time for the Good Guys to turn it around and run off another winning streak. And the White Sox are nothing if not streaky. Of their 37 wins, 22 of them have come as part of a streak of at least three games: one winning streak of three games, one of five games, and two of seven. Of their 29 losses, 18 have come as part of a streak of at least three games: three losing streaks of three games and one of six games. The Update prefers the former to the latter, so we'll close with our usual Go Sox!

Monday, June 9, 2008


For only the fourth time in franchise history, the White Sox completed an undefeated homestand of seven games or more with a come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Minnesota Twins. The red-hot offense continued to sizzle, racking up another double-digit hit total (11), with leadoff man Orlando Cabrera collecting three singles and a double. Paul Konerko provided the winning margin with a two-run home run in the seventh inning (his eighth), while the switch-hitting Nick Swisher contributed one homer from each side of the plate (his seventh and eighth). Monday's four-baggers raised the Sox's total for the homestand to 19 and kept the team on pace to break the 200 mark again, after missing for the first time in eight years last season.
Joe Crede, who was co-player of the week along with Milton Bradley (wasn't he once traded for the Parker Brothers?), had an o-fer, but still wound up raising his batting average 27 points during the seven games at the Cell. In fact, Crede was one of six Sox to manage a double-digit increase during the homestand: Alexei Ramirez (36 pts.); Swisher (27); Cabrera (22); Jermaine Dye (13); and Konerko (11). Jim Thome, who made a slick slide at home to score the first run for the Sox, broke even, while A.J. Pierzynski (-11) and Carlos Quentin (-16) were the only ones to lose ground during this stretch.
John Danks had a sub-par effort, allowing five runs, four of them earned, during his six innings. It would have been more but for a diving backhand catch by Crede with two men on base. The bullpen proved spectacular again, throwing three innings of shutout ball. Matt Thornton earned his second win for blanking the Twins in the seventh. Scott Linebrink notched his 15th hold for his scoreless effort in the eighth. And Bad Bobby Jenks rung up his 15th save by shutting down Minnesota in the ninth.
Beating the Twins again pared the Magic Number to 93. Just for comparison's sake, the Sox didn't reach 93 in the Magic Number countdown in 2005 until June 17, so they're a week ahead of where they were during the World Championship season. The win also pumped up the lead to 6.5 games, and permitted the Sox to reach a new high-water mark for 2008 of 11 games over .500. The Good Guys are now 20-9 at home and 17-17 on the road. Speaking of the road, the Sox head to Detroit with an opportunity to pad their 11 game lead over the Tigers. Go Sox!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


It's a good thing the White Sox didn't fire Greg Walker after the disastrous final three games in Tampa. If he was to blame for their hitting woes, as Ozzie was implying a week ago, then he deserves credit for the rebirth of the South Side Hitmen. In the three wins over the Twins since Friday's edition of The Update, the Sox have scored 10, 11, and 12 runs, on 16, 16, and 15 hits, respectively. In the three wins over the Royals before that, the Good Guys scored 9, 6, and 6 runs, on 11 hits in each game. That works out to an average of 9 runs and 13+ hits per game during this homestand, which stands at 6-0 so far, with a makeup game Monday against Minnesota left to play.
The Sox are the hottest team in baseball and Joe Crede the hottest player in the game over the last week. After the Tampa Bay series, Crede was batting .264; after Sunday's game, he's up to .295 -- a gain of 31 points in just five games (since Joe missed one game with an injury). And he hit five home runs and drove in 12 runs to boot. By the way, Crede does credit Walker with making an adjustment to his swing, so our opening line isn't just hype. As for Crede, Kenny Williams needs to sign this guy to a new contract right now.
Winning three from Minnesota was like taking a chain saw to the Magic Number. It was 101 before the series started and it's 95 now. The Sox had a 2.5 game lead when the Twins came to town, and now have a 5.5 game bulge. The margin over the Indians is 8.5 games, and the Sox are 10 games ahead of Sports Illustrated's pick to click, the Tigers. Detroit is where the Sox head next, but first things first. Let's keep piling it on against our friends from the Land of 10,000 Lakes (before heading off to Michigan, which has over 11,000 lakes), and make it two sweeps on the homestand by winning Monday's game against the Twinkies. Go Sox!

Friday, June 6, 2008


No one can accuse the White Sox of "doggin' it" last night despite the presence of 600 pooches in attendance with the 25,104 human fans. To the contrary, the Sox looked like the first place team that they are in completing their sweep of the Royals, 6-2.
Jose Contreras continued his recent streak of superb pitching -- reminiscent of his 17-game winning streak in 2005- 2006. No Way, Jose handcuffed KC, allowing only four hits and one run in seven innings. With his splitter missing in action, Contreras relied on sliders, change-ups, and fastballs to pick up his sixth win of the season and lower his ERA to 2.76. Matt Thornton threw another inning of scoreless relief, and Nick Masset mopped up in the ninth, although he did allow Mark Teahan a meaningless home run.
Good pitching shouldn't come as a surprise, however. The Sox lead the Majors in fewest hits, runs, earned runs, and home runs, lowest ERA, and most Quality Starts. That's quite a turnaround from last year's abysmal performance.
On the offensive side of the ledger, Jim Thome took a high, outside pitch and poked it into the left field bullpen for his 12th homer of the season and 519th of his career. The team reached double figures in hits (10), with Thome, Orlando Cabrera, Jermaine Dye, and Pablo Ozuna each collecting a pair. The four runs that the Sox scored in the second inning provided just the cushion that Contreras needed to feel comfortable on the mound. So, according to Contreras, the good hitting led to the good pitching.
We interrupt this edition of The Update to report that the Sox drafted Gordon "Bend It Like" Beckham, a 21-year old shortstop out of Georgia with the eighth pick in the draft yesterday. In the sixth round, they selected Kenny Williams, Jr. With Oney Guillen already in the Sox system, it's clear they don't have an anti-nepotism policy. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.
Last night's victory completed the sweep of the Royals and allowed the Sox to extend their lead to 2.5 games over the Twins, who lost yesterday. At 101, the Magic Number is nearing double digits and will get there with a win against Minnesota, who comes to town for a four-game series -- Monday's game is a makeup of a rainout. While the Twins usually give the Sox fits, the good news is the Good Guys are playing .640 ball at home, and Minnesota is only .480 on the road. Bill James would say that means there's a 65.8% chance of a Sox win tonight. Go Sox!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The White Sox toyed with the Royals last night. First, they staked KC to a two-run lead. Then, the Sox came back to take their own two-run lead. Next, they allowed the Royals to tie it up in the ninth. Finally, Paul Konerko put the A.L. Central's cellar-dwellers out of their misery by cranking a walkoff, two-run home run in the 15th inning to win the game 6-4. Paulie's seventh homer of the year was his first in what seemed like forever.
Other members of the Bash Brothers last night included Jim Thome, who was responsible for the Sox's first two runs on a blast (his 11th of the year and 518th of his career) that was the ninth longest home run ever hit in The Cell. Joe Crede joined the club with his 10th home run of the year and added an RBI double for good measure. All the starters were part of the hit parade, except Alexei Ramirez, who made up for his o-fer game with four barehanded web gems.
Speaking of Ramirez, he was involved in a controversial play at the plate, where he seemingly scored and later was called out. The Update's Special Correspondent Mike Sehr provided us with this eyewitness report: His foot seemed to slide over the catcher's foot and not come down on the plate. It was clear that the Umpire did not signal Ramirez safe. A bunch of us from the upper deck saw it and were screaming "Touch the plate!", but unfortunately he didn't and just trotted off to the dugout. After the run was on the board and after an argument by the Royal's manager, when the next batter was up and time was called in, Kansas City's catcher tagged the plate (unclear how that does anything) and Ramirez was called out and the run was taken off the board. It was the right call. It would have been nice if Cabrera, who was standing right there, had told him to tag the plate. The ball got away from KC's catcher and there was time to do it.
Octavio Dotel, who pitched 2.2 innings in relief, picked up the win. John Danks, the starter, came within an out of a Quality Start, tossing 5.2 innings of two-run ball. The bullpen, with one surprising exception, was perfect. Nick Masset, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, Boone Logan, and Dotel all shut out the Royals. Only usually reliable Bobby Jenks gave up any runs -- the two in the ninth that sent the game into extra innings earned him a blown save. Newcomer (and old friend) Estaban Loiza was the only relief pitcher who didn't see action and he was warming up when Konerko ended things.
Unfortunately, Minnesota came back to beat the O's, so the Sox didn't pad their division lead, which remains at 1.5 games. The win does shrink the Magic Number by one, down to 103. The same two teams go at it tonight and the odds of a Sox victory have now inched up to slightly greater than 72%. Let's hope the percentages hold again. Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


The White Sox paid homage to Dolly Parton last night by beating the Royals "Nine to Five." The story of the night was the awakening of the Sox bats -- and the awakening of sleeping South Side neigbors from all the fireworks that four home runs generated.
On a night when Sox fan Barack Obama wrapped up the Democratic Party nomination, his favorite team honored a fine Chicago tradition by going yard "early and often." Carlos Quentin, who was 1 for 2 with two walks, started the festivities by smashing his 15th homer in the first inning. Q's opposite-field blast plated A.J. Pierzynski, who was 3 for 4 on the night, including his fourth dinger -- and first since April 22 -- in the second. Even Nick Swisher got in on the action with his fifth homer of the year. Finally, Alexei Ramirez, who raised his average to .275 by going 3 for 4 and was only a triple shy of the cycle, chimed in with his third big fly of the season.
Gavin Floyd was the beneficiary of these pyrotechnics, making his own contribution with a quality start -- seven innings, two earned runs (four total), six hits, four Ks and no walks -- to improve his record to 6-3. Octavio Dotel allowed one run in the eighth, but didn't give up enough runs so that Bobby Jenks, who pitched a scoreless ninth, even had a save opportunity. The three losses leading up to last night had sidelined Jenks, so he needed the work.
By the way, thanks to my Dad, Art Hadden, and Aunt Elaine Silverman for their periodic updates during last night's game. They're both octogenarians and long-time Sox fans who were watching the game when we called them.
The win combined with a Twins' loss chopped the Magic Number to 104 and increased the Sox's lead over Minnesota to 1.5 games. It also improved the likelihood of a Sox win tonight to 71.2% according to the Bill James Log5 method of single-game outcome estimation. John Danks is on the hill as the Sox try to make it two in a row over KC. Go Sox!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


You don't want to read about it, and we don't want to write about it, so let's just skip over the lost weekend in Tampa. (If you're really a glutton for punishment, scroll down to the prior post, which details Friday's heartbreaking loss. It was written before we knew that there would be two more wasted pitching efforts and our spirit was broken.) Instead, let's look ahead to what should be a respite in the schedule. Lots of home games and our first crack at Kansas City this season.
As noted in an earlier post, the schedulemakers have been unkind to the White Sox so far this year. They've played the fewest home games by far of any team in the league -- 22. The next lowest total is 26, and Tampa Bay has already played an even dozen more games at The Trop (34) than the Sox have played at The Cell.
Does that matter you ask? Well, John Thorn and Pete Palmer reported in their classic tome, The Hidden Game of Baseball, that historically home teams have consistently posted a .540 winning percentage. For the math challenged among you, that means the visitors have only a .460 percentage, or a difference of .080. So the answer is yes, it matters generally.
But what about the White Sox? Well, this season they've won at a .591 clip at home, but only a .500 pace on the road. The difference for the Sox, therefore, is an even greater than league average .091. Hopefully, playing 26 of the next 32 games in Chicago (we know, three of them are at Wrigley, but our guys still get to sleep in their own beds and drive to the games) will help.
What should undoubtedly help is playing Kansas City. Only Seattle has a worse record in the American League. The fact that the Sox are still in first in the division without having played any games against the Royals is encouraging. In fact, using the Bill James Log5 method of estimating one-game winning percentages tells us that the Sox have somewhere between a 67% and 70% chance of winning tonight's game at The Cell against the Royals. (The 67% number was calculated using the teams' overall records and adding a standard additional percentage for the home team; the 70% number used the Sox's home record and the Royals' road record.) Warning: This formula predicted a 98% chance of a Sox victory over the Royals a couple of years ago at a point when the Sox were fabulous at home and KC was horrendous on the road, so, of course, the Sox lost -- as reader Mike Sehr was quick to point out the next day. Let's hope the Royals won't beat the odds this time. Go Sox!