Thursday, June 25, 2009


Just a quickie before I head off for vacation, but this is too good not to report. Scott Podsednik singled to center with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 13th inning to score pinch-runner Gordon Beckham for a 6-5 White Sox win over the Dodgers. Paul Konerko, for whom Beckham was running, smacked a solo home run in the 5th inning, and A.J. Pierzynski pounded a three-run shot in the 6th.
Clayton Richard lasted only 4.1 innings and gave up four earned runs. (If and when Bartolo Colon gets healthy, Richard may not be long for the rotation.) The bullpen combined to pitch 8.2 innings without allowing an earned run. There was one unearned run, but that's par for the course given the leaky defense the Sox have been playing lately. Mazel Tov to Aaron Poreda, who picked up his first career win after throwing an inning of scoreless ball in the top of the 13th. Poreda is Pure Pitching Perfection: a 1.000 winning percentage and 0.00 ERA for his career.
Detroit beat the sCrUBS by the same 6-5 score, so the Sox remain 6.0 games behind. The Magic Number does drop by one to 97. And now, as the Thing used to say, "It's clobberin' time!" The Crosstown Series picks up at the Cell with games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A sweep would be sweet. Go Sox!

Four-bagger. Dinger. Tater. Bomb. Dong. Roundtripper. That's how many different terms for home run you'd need to describe differently each homer that the White Sox hit last night in a 10-7 win over the Dodgers. While it was one short of the team record of seven, it was the most the Sox have hit in one game in over five years. Josh Fields, who had been in an 0 for 16 slump leading up to the game, led the way with two blasts (and a single for good measure). Alexei Ramirez, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko (taking Jim Thome's spot at DH), and even Jayson Nix hit one each. The Sox already held the all-time lead in long balls hit in inter-league play at 309 jacks going into the game, so assuming we've done the math right, last night's six raises the bar for the rest of baseball to 315. By the way, Thome is the all-time big fly leader in such games with 55, while Paulie took over sole possession of fifth place with his 45th.
In addition to the six moon shots, the Sox collected seven other safeties -- including their first pinch hit (by Dewayne Wise) in 33 attempts this season -- to more than triple their total from the first game of the series. The Good Guys are 17-4 when they reach double-digits in hits and 27-4 when they outhit the opposition. They're 28-15 when they go yard and 19-6 when they do it more than once in a game. Finally, the Sox have a 30-9 record when scoring more than three runs, but are a measly 4-28 when scoring three or fewer. So given the hit, circuit clout, and run totals, it's no wonder they won on Wednesday.
Gavin Floyd did his part, contributing his seventh straight Quality Start. This time he lasted six innings, gave up only one earned run (three total thanks to errors by Fields, Ramirez, and a passed ball by A.J.), allowed six hits and two walks, and struck out three. After Jimmy Gobble gave up a three-run shot late, Bobby Jenks had to come in to earn his 18th save. In their last dozen games, Sox starters have permitted only 19 earned runs for an ERA of 2.21.
The Tigers won again against the other team from Chicago, so their lead over the third-place Sox remains at 6.0 games. The win over L.A. though reduces the Magic Number to 98.
At least one member of the franchise will be able to look back at 2009 and say he won a World Series. Last night, Sox first-round draft pick, Jared Mitchell, hit a three-run smash in the first inning to lead LSU to an 11-4 win over Texas in the final game of the College World Series in Omaha. Now that his college season is over, the Sox can sign him. Go Mitchell! Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


There's a reason the Dodgers have the best record in baseball and the White Sox aren't even close. Just look at last night's lineups. L.A. had five players batting .300 or better; the Sox had one (Pods). The Dodgers had only two players hitting .250 or lower; the Sox had four (Beckham, Getz, Anderson, and Thome). So it was no surprise that the Sox got only four hits (two by Dye and one each by Konerko and Ramirez) in a 5-2 loss to their opponents from the 1959 World Series. John Danks gave the Sox a Quality Start -- 7 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 5K, 2 BB -- but it's hard to win when you score just two runs.
The loss was the 19th at home, against only 16 wins. Only the two teams below the Sox in the A.L. Central -- K.C. and Cleveland -- have below .500 home records in the American League. That's not a good sign, and the thing is, the Sox are supposedly built for the Cell: Home run power over speed in a ballpark that is homer happy. They've always done well at home in the past, so maybe they'll turn it around. Or maybe, Kenny Williams will turn into a seller before the trade deadline and try to dump some of the Old Guard. The Sox are not that far out of it (6.0 games behind Detroit) in a weak division, so maybe he'll be a buyer instead, but this team hasn't shown us enough to make us think they can finish first in even a lackluster division.
One bright spot is Aaron Poreda. Poreda pitched a scoreless inning last night in his third appearance since being called up. He has yet to give up a run in 3.2 innings pitched and has allowed only three hits and a walk, while striking out four. That's how everyone needs to pitch given the pathetic offense. Go Poreda! Go Sox!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Business travel kept us from reporting since last Wednesday, so let's catch up on what the White Sox did while we were gone:
  • June 17: After the first game in the series with the North Siders was rained out, the Sox made hay while the sun shined (sort of) behind John Danks's fine pitching effort -- 7.0 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 9 K, 0 BB -- and an inning of scoreless relief by Scott Linebrink (remember that name) and one by Bobby Jenks, who notched his 15th save. Scott Podsednik collected two hits and an RBI, Alexei Ramirez added a home run, and Chris Getz tripled, scored, and drove in a run. Final score: Good Guys 4, Bad Guys 1.
  • June 18: Gavin Floyd matched Danks in most of the important categories -- 7 IP, 1 R, 4 H -- but not in getting the win. Pitching with a 5-1 lead, Linebrink gave up back-to-back homers to Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto in the eighth inning to allow the Scrubs to tie the game. Matt Thornton was equally ineffective, allowing the Wrigleys to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 loss. Ramirez, Brian Anderson, Getz, and Gordon Beckham each had two hits, but they were wasted by the bullpen's failure to close out the game. Losing a game after leading by four runs in the eighth inning is almost unheard of in the modern game with relief specialists, but the Sox managed to pull it off on Thursday. The rubber game in the series will be played in September. Let's hope it still matters for the Pale Hose.
  • June 19: We were at Nationals Park watching the Nats beat the Blue Jays in 11 innings and scoreboard watching the Sox lose to the Reds, 4-3. Getz's first career home run, which gave the Sox a 2-0 lead, and Paul Konerko's 300th career homer for the Sox both went for naught. So did a third consecutive Quality Start by Jose Contreras -- 6 IP, 3 R, 2 K, 0 BB -- and Aaron Poreda's scoreless inning of relief. The Sox could have used some more hits; four is not enough. Hell, according to the old TV show, Eight Is Not Enough, so four sure shouldn't be. Bad start to the series.
  • June 20: Saturday's contest was billed as the Civil Rights Game. Each team wore the uniforms from 1964 when the Civil Rights Act became law, and Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, and Muhammed Ali were on hand. The Sox fell behind early, trailing 5-0 before rallying to pull out a 10-8 win. A.J. Pierzynski tied the game at 5-5 in the fifth with a home run, which made up for an earlier throwing error that had allowed a run to score. Ramirez atoned for being picked off base by totaling as many hits (four) as the entire team had the night before, including a three-run bomb in the sixth inning. Beckham hit the first of what we hope will be many home runs in his White Sox career, and Pods added his second of the year. Scottie had three hits, B.A. and Dewayne Wise each had two to go along with the Missile's four. Jenks picked up his 16th save to preserve the win.
  • June 21: White Sox Dads were happy as their sons delivered on Fathers Day. Mark Buehrle cruised to his seventh victory (but first in a month) by throwing seven innings of five-hit, shutout ball. Hot/Cold Linebrink was cold this time, giving up a run, but earning a hold and setting the table for Jenks to rack up his 17th save (out of 19 chances). Linebrink faced five batters and managed to give up a hit, walk a man, hit one batter, and throw a wild pitch. It doesn't seem fair that he gets a hold for that performance. Pods had two slap bunt hits and scored two runs. Beckham raised his batting average to .196, which means he is now hitting his weight (190). And Paulie knocked in the 1000th RBI of his career. Sox won 4-1 to take the series from the Reds.

Unfortunately, during all of this, the Tigers were winning four in a row, so the Sox find themselves still in third place in the Division, 5.0 games behind Detroit. The Magic Number is now down to double digits. And the Good Guys are beating up on the N.L. Central, going 7-4 in their 11 games so far. Jim Thome will be able to DH again as the Sox head home. Go Thome! Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Knudsen and California State Parks Launch 'Pure Partnership for Our Parks'

What a great idea! At a time when California is having big problems with its budget, it's nice to see a good corporate citizen and maker of a genuine California product pitch in money to help. Sure, it's good advertising for the sour cream and cottage cheese, but so what. I like both of them and if it results in money to support the state parks, all the better.

"And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?" Last night, the answer to Credence Clearwater Revival's famous question was "no one," as the opening game of the White Sox-Scrubs series in Wrigley was washed out. The worst part about it is that they're talking about making it up on September 3. The Sox will be coming off of what looks like the worst road trip of the season: four games in Boston, the team with the best record in the league; three games at New York, the team with the second best record; and three games in the Metrodome, where the Sox rarely fare well. There's also some thought that the makeup could be on September 10, right before the Sox head off to the West Coast. It's kind of nice to have an off day before making that trek, but playing may beat the alternative.
Anyway, the Tigers did play and lost to the Cardinals. That reduces Detroit's lead over the Good Guys to 4.0 games and the White Sox Magic Number to 103. Hopefully, the Sox will return the favor to St. Louis and beat their rivals today. Go Sox!

Monday, June 15, 2009


If only the White Sox were in the N.L. Central. They took two out of three from the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend after earlier meat loafing the Pirates. We get to test that theory further starting Tuesday as the Good Guys invade Wrigley Field for the start of the City Series with their crosstown rivals. John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and a moved-up-a-game-in-the-rotation Jose Contreras are slated to pitch against the team whose name shall not be mentioned. Buckle your seat belts, as Ozzie has already started dissing the Friendly Confines (makes it sound a bit like a prison, doesn't' it?), so the other team's fans should be in fine form. Enough about what's coming up; let's savor the two games the Sox won.
On Saturday, Yes Way Jose pitched a masterly (yes, that's the right word) game. For the second outing in a row since returning from a stint in the minors, usual Update whipping boy Contreras lasted eight innings while giving up no runs. This time he allowed two hits and two walks -- still fantastic -- and pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth before yielding to Scott Linebrink. Contreras was the beneficiary of a six-run rally in the second inning -- more than the Sox usually score in a game -- that Paul Konerko contributed to twice. Paulie led off the stanza with a single, scored on Jayson Nix's ground-rule double, and drove in two runs himself with a two-run single to left to close out the scoring in the inning. Even Gordon Beckham got into the act with a two-run bloop double. The final score was 7-1, which set up Sunday as the rubber game of the series with the Brewers.
And on Sunday, the Sox picked up a 5-4 win against their N.L. neighbors to the North -- no not that other team; the Brewers. Mark Buehrle wasn't himself on the mound or at the plate. As a pitcher, he was just okay, giving up three home runs that led to four runs in his six innings. But at the plate, Buehrle stroked his first home run in the Major Leagues. Jimmy Gobble came on to relieve Buehrle and demonstrated that he's what's called a LOOGY -- a Lefty One Out GuY -- by coming in throwing two pitches and retiring the batter. The relief triumvirate of Octoavio Dotel, Matt Thornton (4-1), and Bobby Jenks (14th save) held the Brewers, became pitcher of record when the Sox pushed across the game-winner in the ninth, and notched the save, respectively. The winning rally started with pinch-hitter Jim Thome (no DH in the N.L. parks, remember?) coaxing a walk after fouling off a drag bunt attempt. Ozzie sent in pitcher Clayton Richard to pinch run for Thome. Scott Podsednik advanced the runner with a single, and A.J. Pierzynski eventually plated Richard by stroking a single. Beckham contributed earlier with a two-run double, and is now batting a lofty -- compared to the .000 average he had been carrying -- .114 batting average.
We won't talk about Friday's game -- a series-opening loss to the Brew Crew -- except to mention Aaron Poreda's debut. Poreda struck out three batters in the six men he faced. Included among the whiffers was Brewer star and fellow Jewish ballplayer Ryan Braun. Poreda referred to it as "the battle of the Jews." We can't wait to see him face Ian Kinsler and Kevin Youklis down the road.
The Magic Number is approaching double digits, the Tiger's lead is down to 4.5 games., and we play the Scrubs after taking a day off. Go Sox!

Friday, June 12, 2009


The White Sox completed their season-longest (12-game) homestand by tipping the Tigers 4-3 on a walkoff hit by Scott Podsednik in the bottom of the ninth inning. Brian Anderson started the winning rally with a single and advanced to third on a Chris Getz sacrifice and throwing error. Josh Fields, who started at first for Paul Konerko (out with a thumb injury) drew a walk to load the bases and set the stage for Pods to be the hero. The win went to Bobby Jenks, who didn't deserve it. Big Bobby came on in the ninth to protect a 3-1 lead but gave up a home run to register his second blown save of the year. That cost Gavin Floyd the win. Floyd pitched a beauty, lasting eight innings while allowing only one run on five hits. His control was superb, with 77 strikes in 111 pitches, which led to five strikeouts and no walks.
Jim Thome continued his hot hitting by smacking his 12th homer of the year (No. 553 all-time), but will now be relegated to pinch-hitting duties as the Sox play the next nine games on the road in National League parks. (Insert usual rant about different rules in the two leagues here.) A.J. Pierzynski also belted a round-tripper, his sixth, in the eighth inning to give the Sox what should have been a comfortable 3-1 lead with Jenks coming in to pitch the ninth. Fortunately, the small-ball offense saved for the Sox what Jenks couldn't, and the Sox salvaged their second win against the Tigers (out of five in the series).
Business travel prevented us from reporting on Wednesday's game, but that's just as well. Suffice it to say, the Sox wasted a fine effort from John Danks (7.1 innings, five hits, one run) and fell to Justin Verlander, who pitched even better -- a complete game 2-1 win marred only by a Thome homer. There were some winnable games that got away in this series, but that's the difference between a good team and what the Sox are right now.
The Magic Number is down to 108, but Detroit's with respect to the White Sox is 97. You math whizzes out there will know that means the Sox trail the Tigers by 5.5 games. It's on to Milwaukee -- where the Sox used to play several home games a year when the Good Guys were drawing bupkous at Comiskey, so maybe there are a few fans still up there -- to face the Brewers.
The Tribune is reporting that Update favorite, Frank Thomas, is going to be working for Comcast during the two Sox-Cubs series. With Konerko idled by his thumb injury and Thome a liability at first, we'd rather see the Big Hurt suit up, but we're glad to see him doing anything associated with the Sox. Go Frank! Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This was the game the White Sox were supposed to win. They had their best pitcher, Mark Buehrle, going up against Dontrelle Willis, who's been struggling for Detroit. But Willis (5 IP, 3 runs) outpitched Buehrle (6.1 IP, 5 runs), and the Sox wound up losing in extra innings.
The Sox tied the game twice, but couldn't take the lead. In the fifth inning, Brian Anderson poked a two-runner homer to even the score at 3-3, and in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox rallied from a three-run deficit to even things up at 6-6.
The Sox led off the ninth with what Curt Gowdy used to redundantly call three straight consecutive walks in a row to Anderson, Scott Podsednik, and Alexei Ramirez. After a pitching change, Jermaine Dye struck out swinging, but Jim Thome drew his third walk of the game, pushing across Anderson to make it 6-4. Ozzie sent in Dewayne Wise to run for Thome, and Paul Konerko doubled down the left field line. Pods and the Missile scored easily, but the Tigers made two perfect throws to nab Wise on an extremely close play at the plate. We've looked at the replay in slow motion several times and it's just too close for us to say one way or the other. The home plate umpire was well positioned to make the call and didn't hesitate in signalling out. Ozzie wasn't complaining about the call during his presser after the game, but it just may be that the Sox got robbed. Anyway, Scott Linebrink gave up a homer to Miguel Cabrera in the 10th, and the Sox didn't have another rally left in them, falling 7-6.
Aside from the two comebacks by the Good Guys, the most notable thing about the game was Gordon Beckham's first career hit. Beckham singled to center in the second inning. Of course, his second hit would have been even more memorable if it had come in the bottom of the ninth when he struck out to end the inning, stranding the would-be winning run on second base.
Speaking of young talent, the Sox called up Aaron Poreda from Double-A Birmingham after the game. Poreda takes the roster spot of Bartolo Colon, who goes on the DL with a bad case of inability to win games. Ozzie says Poreda, who's been a starter in the minors, will pitch out of the pen, leaving both Clayton Richard and Jose Contreras in the starting rotation for now.
In other young talent news, former Stanford football and baseball player and current Sox GM, Kenny Williams, opted for another football-baseball player in the amateur draft. Imagine Bud Selig doing his David Stern imitation: "With the 23rd pick in the draft, the Chicago White Sox select Jared Mitchell from Louisiana State University." Mitchell is a speedy centerfielder, with a .325 batting average, .471 on base percentage, and 35 stolen bases in 44 attempts. Sox director of amateur scouting, Doug Lauman, called him a "high-ceiling, athletic type of player," and Harold Reynolds of the MLB network said he has "the biggest upside" in the draft. The Sox also selected Josh Phegley, a catcher from Indiana, with the 38th pick, and high school outfielder Trayce Thompson (former NBA player Mychal Thompson's son) at No. 61.
The Sox failed to reduce the Magic Number and fell to 5.5 games behind Detroit. There are two games left in the series, so the best the Sox can do is wind up 3.5 games back. Make it happen, Cap'n. Go Sox!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I'm glad I said something nice about Jose Contreras in yesterday's Update, before he went out and threw an eight-inning, no-run, one-hitter in a Game 2 win over the Tigers. Contreras was making his first start for the White Sox since returning from Triple-A Charlotte, where he had exiled himself in order to regain his pitching touch. It appears to have worked as Contreras limited Detroit to a double and a walk and faced only 26 batters, two over the minimum for his stint. The usually reliable Matt Thornton gave up a meaningless home run in the ninth to make the final score 8-1.
The Sox offense -- missing so often lately that their faces have appeared on milk cartons -- decided to show up. Scott Podsednik hit his first home run of the season. That means he won't be repeating his 2005 feat of homering in the World Series (walkoff homer in Game 2) after going homerless in the regular season. Pods was the only player in baseball history to pull that off, and was the only player to hit two homeruns in the post-season (Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox) after failing to hit one during the season. Alexei Ramirez got the Sox off to a lead with his fifth home run of the year and collected three hits. (He also had two hits in Game 1.) The Missile raised his average to .261 and has gone from anemic to bad to decent and is on his way to good. Jim Thome deposited one in the seats for his 10th of 2009 and 551st overall. Even Gordon Beckham got on base via a walk. While he went 0 for 3 to keep his batting average at .000 (0 for 13), he raised his on base percentage to .071 and finally played in a win.
Game 1 was a different story, however. It doesn't take much to set off Ozzie, but even the calmest of managers would have exploded like Oz did after the Sox committed three errors, including a ninth-inning boot by Josh Fields that led to the Tigers' winning run in a 5-4 loss. Clayton Richard was trying to make it easy for Ozzie to replace him in the rotation with Contreras by giving up three runs in only 4.2 innings. Five hits and five walks is not the way to get it done, unless your mission is to go back to the bullpen. Hey, the Sox are so desperate for pitching that they signed Freddy Garcia to a minor-league contract. The winning pitcher in the World Series clincher has already been cut from the Mets Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo this year, so he's probably not the answer, but Kenny Williams is pulling out all the stops now.
The split with Detroit leaves the Sox where they started the day -- in third place, 4.5 games behind the Tigers. The Magic Number does fall to 110, and there are three more games left in the series. A sweep of those three would move the Sox to within 1.5 of Detroit, not a bad result considering how poorly the Good Guys have been playing. Go Sox!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Since the name of this blog is White Sox Magic Number Update, given the pitiable state of the team, it's tempting just to report the Magic Number -- 112 -- and stop there. We'll resist that temptation and say a little more, but this will be short and (not so) sweet. After all, you don't want to read about it any more than we want to write about it.
The Sox are slumping. Again. They've lost five out of six to Oakland and Cleveland, the two worst teams in the American League. (No, the Sox haven't earned that title yet, but they seem to be going after it with a vengeance.) Dropping three of four against the A's and two of three against the Indians is no way to get ready for the biggest -- literally, it's five games -- series of the year, against the first-place Tigers. A Sox sweep (how's that for unbridled optimism?) allows the team to overtake Detroit by a half-game. A Tiger sweep leaves the Sox 9.5 games behind and in real trouble.
There's a double header today, with Clayton Richard pitching the afternoon game, and Jose Contreras, whom Richard replaced in the rotation, on the mound in the nightcap for the Sox versus Armando Galarraga and Jeremy Bonderman for Detroit. (By the way, MLB Network was replaying Game Five of the 2005 ALCS over the weekend, and despite knowing how it came out, we had to watch -- if only to remind ourselves how important Contreras was to the team back then. Like the rest of the starters, Jose pitched a complete game, and his gem won the pennant that ended the 46-year drought.) Tomorrow, it's Mark Buehrle against Dontrelle Willis, the matchup that most favors the Good Guys. Wednesday, John Danks faces off against Justin Verlander. And Thursday, Gavin Floyd, who started in the one game the Sox won during this slide, goes to the hill against Edwin Jackson.
So far, the Gordon Beckham experiment is showing disastrous results. Beckham is 0 for 10 in three games and sat out Saturday's win in favor of Josh Fields, who homered in that contest. We can only hope that this premature call-up (after only 59 minor league games) hasn't irreparably harmed Beckham's psyche.
Let's switch up our closing line in the hopes of changing the team's luck. Just win, baby!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Bend It Like Beckham, Part II. No, it's not the sequel to the soccer movie. It's the White Sox bending their plan to patiently groom last year's first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham in the minors. The failure of Wilson Betemit (that trade involving Nick Swisher worked out pretty well, don't you think?) to hit (.200) or field (innumerable errors) led to his dismissal and the promotion of Beckham from Charlotte. Josh Field's struggles also contributed to the Chosen One being rushed to the Majors a mere 364 days and 59 minor league games after he was drafted. Ozzie says he'll play and get a good number of at bats, and he'd better. There's no reason -- in terms of his development -- to have him sitting on the bench instead of playing every day in the minors. Where he plays is another question. Beckham played shortstop in college, but the Sox have one of those in the form of Alexei Ramirez. He played second base in spring training, but lately has been manning the hot corner at Charlotte. Ozzie says he'll play a little at all three positions in the infield. What about moving the Missile to center? We've got a hole there too. We're not sure how we feel about Beckham being in the Bigs, but are eager to find out how he'll do.
In game news, Clayton Richard went from being Da' Bomb to getting bombed. After being staked to a lead courtesy of Jermaine Dye's first-inning, two-run homer, Richard gave it back and more, allowing the league-worst A's to score five runs. This 5-3 loss came on the heels of a 5-0 loss on Tuesday to Oakland's first-time starter -- the kind of pitcher the Sox always struggle with.
The good news is that the Tigers have lost two in a row, so the Sox remain 3.5 games behind in a virtual tie for second with the Twins. The Magic Number, due to the two Detroit losses, is now at 115. One more game with Oakland before the Indians and Tigers come to town. Jose Contreras, Beckham's recent teammate in Triple-A, is slated to pitch one of the games on Monday. What happens after that with the six starters is anyone's guess. Go Sox!

Monday, June 1, 2009


The White Sox won their fourth game in a row, 10th of their last 13, and are on that hot streak we've all been waiting for. Monday night, Jim Thome hit his 550th home run, a three-run shot, that broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. The Sox tacked on one more run on a bases loaded walk to provide the final 6-2 margin over the Oakland A's.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Good Guys got one of the runs back in the bottom half of the frame when Jermaine Dye sac flied home Scottie Pods, who had gotten on base with a walk. (By the way, the Sox are 8-2 since Pods and Alexei Ramirez took over the 1-2 spots in the order.) A.J. Pierzynski tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth (and in the process, lifted his batting average over .300), setting the stage for Thome's big blast later on.
Gavin Floyd got the Sox starters back in the groove of yielding fewer than four runs, one day after that streak had been broken. Floyd toiled for seven innings and limited the A's to two runs on four hits and three walks. For the third game in a row, he struck out eight batters. Matt Thornton was brilliant in relief, striking out the three batters he faced, throwing 10 of his 12 pitches for strikes. On the radio broadcast, D.J. started making bird sounds and referred to him as a vulture -- for swooping in like a bird of prey and picking up the win again when the Sox scored after he was finished pitching. Bobby Jenks had been warming up, but when the lead expanded to four runs -- a non-save situation -- Scott Linebrink came in instead and pitched a scoreless ninth.
The win lifts the 25-25 Sox back to .500 for the first time since May 3 when they were 12-12 and 1.5 games back of first-place KC. Now, they're in second place, 3.5 games behind Detroit. The Magic Number is 117. They've won the first game of each of the last five series and have the previous four series. Let's win Tuesday's game so we don't have to sweat the last game in order to take the series. Go Sox!