Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Before last night's game, if Gavin Floyd has sued the White Sox for lack of support, no one would have blamed him.  Going into Tuesday's tilt with the Royals, Floyd had the second lowest level of run support in the league at 2.80.  The Sox had scored no runs four times, one run four times, and two runs once when Floyd has pitched this season, and they've put up a total of five runs in his last six starts.  So having four runs to work with last night was a veritable excess of riches for the right-hander.  And he didn't disappoint, giving up only three runs, two of them earned, in 6.2 innings.  Matt Thornton finished the seventh inning and got two outs in the eighth without allowing a run, and J.J. Putz shut down the Royals the rest of the way to earn his second save and preserve Floyd's first win since win since May 22 and his first win ever in KC.  Putz was the closer because Bobby Jenks is still out with a family emergency, and J.J. kept two streaks intact.  He made his 17th appearance in a row without giving up a run, and he maintained his ERA in road games this year at 0.00.  Not too shabby a replacement for Big Bobby.

The bats were smoking hot, as the Sox garnered a dozen hits, with every starter not named Alex Rios getting at least one.  Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay, Dayan Viciedo, and Gordon Beckham each had two.  A.J. Pierzynski, Becks, Pierre, and Alexei Ramirez each had an RBI for the Good Guys, while former Sox Scottie Pods (2) and Wilson Betemit (1) drove in all of KC's runs.  Viciedo also had the first steal of his career.

With a win in the finale, the Sox will take their seventh consecutive series and pick up ground on either Minnesota or Detroit, who play each other again today.  The Twins won last night's game to move back into first, so the Sox trail them by 1.5 games and the Tigers by 1.0.  Right now, the A.L. Central is the tightest race in baseball.  Time for the Sox to break this thing open and leave those other two teams behind.  Go Sox!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This wasn't the kind of streak I had in mind.  Fresh off their loss to the Cubs, the White Sox allowed another terrible team to beat them last night, suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Royals in Kansas City.  Mark Buehrle was less than sharp, although he did contribute a Quality Start -- 6.1 IP, 3 R, 10 H, and 5 BB -- and Sergio Santos pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. 

Unfortunately, the bats were quiet.  The timely hitting that surfaced during the 11-game winning streak was nowhere to be seen.  The Good Guys managed only four hits: singles by Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, and A.J. Pierzynski and a home run by Carlos Quentin.  Q, who was named the American League Player of the Week for his clutch performance last week, continued his hot streak.  The homer was his fifth in the last seven games, and he was 4 for 4 in terms of getting on base, collecting two walks and a hit by pitch.

That was the tenth time this season that Q has taken one for the team, tieing him for the A.L. lead with Juan Pierre at 10 HBPs.  (Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder of the Brewers lead the N.L. with 13 and 11 HBPs, respectively.)  Q gets plunked 3.75% of the time he steps to the plate, which is nothing compared to Brett Carroll of the Marlins, who has been hit 7 times this year in only 90 plate appearances, or 7.75% of the times he's in the batter's box.  HBP seems like a stat that should be attributable to the pitcher and somewhat random among batters, but it doesn't work that way.

Of the 778 players with a plate appearance this season, 301 of them have been hit by a pitch at least once.  There've been 164 who've been hit at least twice, 98 hit at least three times, 60 hit at least four times (including Rios and Gordon Beckham), and 31 hit at least five times (including A.J., who was hit last night).  At the top of the list is where you see that the batter may have as much or more to do with it than the pitcher.  How else do you explain 19 batters being hit at least six times, 15 hit at least seven times, 10 at least eight times, and six at least nine times?  The rarefied stats of the aforementioned Weeks, Fielder, Quentin, and Pierre suggest that these guys are hanging over the plate or at least not doing much to get out of the way of pitches.

The Sox went into last night's game 1.5 games behind the first-place Twins, and maintained that distance since Minnesota lost.  Because the Twins lost to the Tigers, however, the Sox are now 2.0 games out of first, behind new leader, Detroit.  Those two play each other again today and the Sox play KC, so there's a good chance to gain on one of the teams ahead of the South Siders.  Go Sox!

Monday, June 28, 2010


All good things must come to an end, and the White Sox finally lost on Sunday after winning 11 in a row.  For the first time in forever, a Sox starter didn't have it, and the Cubs took advantage, winning the final game of the City Series, 8-6.  The Good Guys won Friday's game 6-0 and Saturday's contest 3-2, to go along with the earlier Meat Loafing of the Cubs and deliver the inaugural BP Crosstown Cup to the South Side by a 4 games to 2 margin.  (The BP Cup is, of course, second only to the Stanley Cup in terms of importance, ranking just ahead of the cup in Ozzie's jock strap, the proverbial cup of coffee that career minor league players have in the Bigs, and the legendary Irv Kupcinet.)

Enough's been written and broadcast about this weekend that you don't need any more from me.  Suffice it to say that the Sox own the National League, posting a 15-3 record against the Senior Citizens.  That's 2-1 versus the Marlins, 3-0 sweeps of the Pirates, Nats, and Braves, and twice taking a series from the Cubs 2-1.  The Sox finished with the best interleague mark in the majors, and only one game off of the all-time best of 16-2.

The streak has allowed the Sox to climb back into the Central Division race and turn what was fast becoming a boring baseball season into one that deserves our attention.  The team is only 1.5 games behind Minnesota and a game behind Detroit.  The difference in Magic Numbers is manageable: 90 for the Sox; 87 for the Twins.  And the Good Guys play Kansas City, which is 8.0 games behind the Sox in the standings.  Go Sox!  Start a new streak!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Over his last three games, Gavin "Pink" Floyd had pitched superbly -- 22 innings while allowing only 13 hits, three earned runs, and six walks, and striking out 22 batters.  And what did he have to show for it?  Nothing.  Actually, less than nothing, since he was 0-1.  Well, last night Floyd was even better, shutting out the Atlanta Braves for seven innings on two hits, a walk, and 9 strikeouts, but still didn't add a W to his personal record. 

That accomplishment went to J.J. Putz, who's on a great roll himself -- 15 scoreless appearances in a row.  Putz blanked the Braves in the top of the eighth inning and was the pitcher of record when Paul "I'm in my contract year, again" Konerko smacked his 18th home run -- a two-run blast -- to provide all the scoring in a 2-0 Sox victory.  Bobby Jenks preserved the shutout while converting his 11th straight save opportunity, to earn his 17th save.

Getting back to Floyd, let's compare his performance over his last four games with that of Stephen Strasburg, who has four starts in the major leagues.  Floyd has lasted more innings, 29 to Strasburg's 25.1, but to be fair, the Nats have imposed an innings and pitch count limit on their rookie.  Floyd has given up 15 hits to Strasburg's 19, and 3 earned runs (0.93 ERA) to Strasburg's 5 (1.78 ERA).  Strasburg has the edge in strikeouts, 41 to 31, walks given up, 5 to 7, and record, 2-1 to 0-1.  Aside from the Ks, where Strasburg has set a major-league record for most strikeouts in the first four games of a career, The Update thinks that Floyd has out-pitched the Phenom.

The important thing, though, is the White Sox are winning.  Their third consecutive sweep of a National League team gave the Sox a nine-game winning streak.  It moved the Good Guys to a season-high two games over .500.  And it narrowed the gap to 2.5 games behind the first-place Twins.  The Sox are back in the pennant race.  Now, they face the Cubs, whom they Meat Loafed in Wrigley, but this time in the Cell.  We don't want to jinx anything, so we'll just say Go Sox!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


It's time for a little feature we like to call "Fun With Numbers."

2  Games over .500 after the White Sox beat the Braves last night, 4-2, to improve to 36-34.  That's the most games above the break-even mark this year -- so far.  The low point was 9 games under .500.

8  Games the Sox have won in a row, another season high.  The Good Guys have twice lost 4 consecutive games in 2010.

3.5  Games behind the Twins going into today's action.  The Sox have been as many as 9.5 games back of Minnesota.  The team trails second-place Detroit by 2.0 games.

6  Number of wins and losses for Mark Buehrle after picking up the win last night.  It is also the number of innings that Buehrle pitched (2 R, 9 H, 1 BB, 4 K) and number of hits for the very efficient Sox lineup.

11  Home runs by Carlos Quentin this season after hitting 2 last night -- one in the 4th inning, following Paul Konerko's single that drove in Omar Vizquel, and a solo blast in the 7th inning.

Runs allowed by J.J. Putz, who is up to 14 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, by Matt Thornton, who picked up his 9th hold of the year, and by Bobby Jenks, who needed only 4 pitches to convert his 10th straight save opportunity into his 16th save.

19  Comeback wins this season, after erasing a 1-0 deficit last night, with the largest deficit overcome of 4 runs being against Cleveland on June 6.  That contrasts with 18 losses after leading, with the largest lead surrendered also being 4 runs, which happened 3 times.

12  Number of interleague wins, against only 2 losses, giving the Sox the best record in the major leagues.

42  Number of consecutive wins for Atlanta when scoring more than 4 runs in a game before the Sox beat them 9-6 on Tuesday -- the second-best mark in over 100 years.  The longest such streak belongs to the 1906-1907 Cubs with 67 games.  Of course, that doesn't count Game 5 of the 1906 World Series, when the White Sox beat the Cubs 8-6 to set the stage for the Sox becoming World Champions the next day with an 8-3 clincher.
That's it for now.  Go Sox!  Sweep the Braves!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


For everyone who was pooh-poohing the White Sox's recent resurgence because it came at the expense of bad teams like the Cubs, Pirates, and Nationals (Stephen Strasburg, excepted), how do you like 'em now?  The Good Guys proved they could do it against a good team -- the Atlanta Braves, who lead the N.L. East and had a five-game winning streak of their own going into last night's contest.

The White Hot Sox came back from an early three-run deficit to top the Braves 9-6, pounding out a sweet 16 hits in the process.  The win, the team's seventh in a row and 11th in their last 12 games, went to John Danks, who contributed a quality start.  But this game was all about the bats.  Not only did the Sox match their season high for safeties, but they finally ended the homerless skein that was plaguing them.  Carlos Quentin, who has shown real signs of coming back to life after being declared clinically dead at the plate, poked a three-run shot to end the four-bagger drought.

One of the base hits deserves special mention: Alex Rios hit a hard smash to Braves third baseman Brooks Conrad.  The ball wound up inside of Conrad's jersey for what Steve Stone called "an inside-the-shirt single."  I've never seen that one before, but apparently Hawk Harrelson has since he said he hasn't seen that happen in a long time.  I take it as a sign that the baseball "gods" are back to being on our side.

With the win and Minnesota's loss, the Sox have climbed to within 4.5 games of first place in the Central Division.  At 35-34, they're over .500 for the first time since they won on Opening Day.  And the Good Guys have five more games against the National League -- two with the Braves and three with the Cubs -- which, so far, has proven to be good for what ails them.  Enjoy this while you can, because they're likely to lose one or two of the 94 games remaining on the schedule.  Hopefully the fun will continue a little longer.  Go Sox!

Monday, June 21, 2010


There was an important visitor at Nationals Park this weekend as the White Sox played the Nats.  No, not President Obama or his two daughters, who were there on Friday night for the Stephen Strasburg game.  I'm talking about Jackson Elliott Andrews, my grandson, who attended his first game at the age of just more than two months on Father's Day.  (Jack's mother, my daughter Allison, first made it to a game at the age of five months when the Sox played the Cubs in August, 1981 in the first game, albeit an exhibition, after that season's strike ended.)  Jack, the President, and I saw Sox wins, as did those in attendance on Saturday, as the Sox swept the Nats.  The three wins evened the team's record at 34-34 and extended the season-high winning streak to six games.  The Good Guys have now won 9 of 10 and 11 of the last 13, although they've gone homerless in eight straight contests.

Friday's game was another Strasburg sellout, and the Nats' rookie again lived up to the hype.  Thanks to Alex Kuczkowski, I had the chance to be there.  Before the game began, I was hoping for a brilliant Strasburg performance in a game that the Sox won anyway -- and I got my wish.  Strasburg lasted seven innings before the Nats-imposed pitch/innings count resulted in his departure.  During his time in the game, the Phenom struck out 10, while allowing only four hits and one run and no walks.  The run was a cheapie -- a Juan Pierre grounder to first with Strasburg a bit late on covering the bag; a blooper to right that fell in for an Omar Vizquel double; and an Alex Rios grounder to first that scored Pierre from third.  Fortunately for the Sox, Gavin Floyd was even better, going eight innings while striking out five and permitting only one run on four hits and one walk.  Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, and Bobby Jenks each held the Nats scoreless for an inning, with Jenks picking up his 14th save.  Alex Rios's infield single in the 11th inning scored pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay, who had singled and advanced on a Pierre sacrifice and Vizquel grounder to first.  Total small ball, and it worked.   (Historical footnote: We noticed a bunch of people turning around and taking photos of someone in a suite and a vendor told us that it was Obama.  Surprising, since other games I've been to where the President has attended, there's been very strict security going in.  This game, nothing.  I guess the element of surprise was the security measure.)

Saturday's game was broadcast nationally by Fox, which apparently thought that Strasburg was going to be pitching when it put the game on the schedule.  He didn't, but there was brilliant pitching nonetheless.  Jake Peavy, threw a complete game shutout and was phenomenal himself while doing it -- three hits, two walks, one of them intentional, and seven strikeouts.  It's a good thing Peavy was on, because the Sox scored only one run themselves.  Carlos Quentin, who was 2 for 4, drove in the sole tally.  A.J. Pierzynski was 3 or 4.  The Sox rarely win games 1-0.  During 2008, it happened only once, in the sudden-death game with the Twins on the strength of Jim Thome's blast, and last September 30, the Sox beat the Indians 1-0, but those are the only other times in the last three seasons (including this one) that the Good Guys came out on top in a game with that score.   (Historical note:  This was the first time that the Sox played in DC since I moved here in 1975 that I wasn't at the game.  Of course, it was only the second game they played here during that period, but still.)

Sunday, I got to spend Father's Day watching the Sox with Allison, son-in-law Chas, Jackson, and wife Judy -- among others -- and enjoyed seeing the Sox complete the sweep of the Nats.  I'll root for D.C.'s team 159 games this year, but not these three.  The story on this day was the hitting, with the Sox banging out 15 hits in the 6-3 win.  Every position player had at least one, and Alex Rios had three, Alexei Ramirez, Paul Konerko, Ramon Castro, and Gordon Beckham each had two.  Steady Freddy Garcia contributed a quality start -- seven innings, three runs on six hits, one walk, and six Ks.  Thornton and Putz each tossed one inning of scoreless ball, with Putz getting his first save.  Jenks had a tender shoulder, so J.J. got the chance and made the most of it.  It was his 13th consecutive scoreless outing.  (Historical note:  Ramon Castro wound up facing Nats' reliever Miguel Batista.  This may have been the first Castro-Batista confrontation since would-be pitcher Fidel Castro overthrew Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959 -- the second most important thing to happen that year.)

The sweep left the Sox 5.5 games behind Minnesota, but more important, the Good Guys have a chance for a winning record with a win over Atlanta at the Cell.  After three games with the Braves, the Cubs invade the South Side.  Two more sweeps would be sweet -- and if the starting pitching keeps going like it has been over the last two weeks, it could happen.  A longshot?  Sure, but so too it seemed was getting back to .500 just a short time ago.  Go Sox!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Sweeeeep!  The White Sox finished off the Pirates in Pittsburgh last night, 5-4, to win their third game in a row, their seventh in their last eight, and their eighth in their last 10.  Sure, you can say it was only the lowly Bucs that they beat, but even with the win, the Sox are only 12-15 in games against clubs with a losing record, while a more respectable 19-19 versus teams that play at least .500 ball.

The Good Guys again managed to do it without hitting a homer.  Last night marked the fifth consecutive game that the Sox failed to put one in the seats -- the longest homerless stretch since August, 2000.  The Pale Hose did accumulate 11 hits, with Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Carlos Quentin, and A.J. Pierzynski each collecting two.  Pierre added a diving catch of a Delwyn Young sinking liner late in the game to help shut down a Pirates' comeback attempt.

Mark Buehrle, who was starting because Jake Peavy needs some extra days off to rest his shoulder, got the win by limiting the Pirates to two runs on six hits and a walk over 7.1 innings.  After some scary moments when Sergio Santos and Matt Thornton allowed Pittsburgh to get back in the game, Bobby Jenks fashioned a scoreless ninth to pick up his 13th save.  The win was Buehrle's fifth of the year (against six losses) and made him the all-time winningest pitcher in interleague play, with 22 victories, one ahead of Jamie Moyer and Mike MussinaBuehrle is 3-0 this year and 8-0 in his last 11 starts against the National League.

Speaking of the N.L., interleague play continues tonight with the Sox facing the Washington Nationals for the first time ever (although they did face the Nats' predecessors, the Montreal Expos, back in 2004, going 1-2 up in Canada).  The Nats will start Phenom Stephen Strasburg (I capitalize it because I believe it has officially become part of his name) in front of what surely will be a huge crowd, including yours truly.  You can't overestimate how crazy folks here in the D.C. area are about Strasburg, and his first two starts have only added fuel to the fire.  Gavin Floyd will give it a go for the Sox, and Floyd has a pretty decent interleague record himself -- 5-2, with a 1.99 ERA in nine career starts.  Jayson Nix won't be around to see the game though, as Kenny Williams waived him yesterday to make room for Dayan Viciedo.  The Cuban youngster is batting .288 with 13 home runs and 31 RBI in the minors, and has been brought up to add a little punch to the team.  He's been playing first base, but don't be surprised to see him at third too.

Since the Twins lost last night, the Sox are only 6.5 games behind in the Central Division race.  A sweep of the five-games-under-.500 Nats would return the Good Guys to the break-even mark and go a long way towards getting them back in the race.  But to sweep, you've got to win the first game, so Merry Strasmas and Go Sox!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


If you think it's hard being a White Sox fan, imagine what it must be like rooting for the Pirates.  The Bucs have a 23-42 record, well on their way to an 18th consecutive losing season.  Pittsburgh hasn't had a winning record since 1992, the last year that Barry Bonds wore the black and gold.  

Last  night's game was a perfect example of why they stink.  Doing their best imitation of a Little League team, the Pirates committed six -- yes, six -- errors.  At the plate, they managed only two runs off of John Danks (8.0 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K) and Tony Pena (1.0 IP, 1 H).  Meanwhile, the Sox put seven runs on the board, again without the benefit of a home run (so Hawk Harrelson didn't say, "You, can put it on the board, yes!").  Paul Konerko led the hit parade with a 3 for 4 night (plus 1 BB).  Carlos Quentin (2 for 4, 2 RBI), Alex Rios (2 for 4 with a walk), and Juan Pierre (2 for 5, 2 SB) also contributed to the more-potent-than-usual offensive display.

Konerko's and Rios's performance caused me to check their stats and how they stack up aganist the rest of the league.  For on-base average, Paulie, at .398 is ranked 8th, and Alex, at .382, is 17th.  They're the only Sox to be above the league average of .332.  For slugging percentage, Konerko's .588 earns him 6th place and Rios's .571 puts him 8th.  Again, no other Sox player is above the .410 league average.  Putting that together to tabulate the all-important OPS (on-base average + slugging percentage), we find P.K. in 5th place in A.L. with .986 and Rios in 7th place with .953.  We hardly need to point out that they're the only Sox to exceed the average in that category of .742.  Ladies and Gentlemen, those are your Chicago White Sox 2010 All-Star Game representatives -- if they keep it up.  Maybe Freddy Garcia if he continues winning 70% of his games.  No one else really deserves consideration.  But that's only my view.  Let's hear what you think and why.  Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I'm still having a hard time believing that Freddy Garcia has become the ace of the White Sox pitching staff, but Steady Freddy won his fourth consecutive start last night, 6-4, to improve to a team-best 7-3 record.  Garcia, who gave up eight hits and four runs in his 5.2 innings pitched, had a lot of help from the bullpen.  Sergio Santos (0.1 IP), Matt Thornton (1.0), J.J. Putz (1.0) each earned a hold, and Bobby Jenks (1.0) notched his 12th save, by shutting out the Pirates.  The relievers combined for six strikeouts, and Putz's scoreless effort was his 11th in a row.

The Sox made the most of their seven hits, scoring six runs without the aid of the longball.  Gordon Beckham was 2 for 4, with a double, three RBIs, and a good decoy move that allowed him to score on Juan Pierre's suicide squeeze bunt.  Alexei Ramirez was also 2 for 4, with an RBI and a double.  And Ramon Castro doubled and drew three walks in his four plate appearances.

The Sox are now 5-2 in interleague play (a .714 winning percentage), second only to the Mets' 6-1 record.  Given that they're 24-32 against the American League (a .429 percentage), it seems clear that what's wrong with the Sox is that they play in the wrong league.  Of course, only the Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, and Mariners have losing records against the other league, so there are a lot of A.L. squads that wouldn't mind a steady diet of N.L. teams.

Unfortunately, Minnesota is one of those.  The Twins won last night over Colorado, so the Sox remain 7.5 games behind the Piranhas in the Central Division.  But the Sox have two more games with the lowly Pirates before visiting me -- oh yeah, and the Nats -- in D.C.  Go Sox!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Given the saturation coverage of the Sox-Cubs series, there's very little I can add.  The Sox meat-loafed the Cubs, taking Friday's opener 10-5, clinching the series with a 2-1 victory on Saturday, and losing an incredible pitching duel, 1-0, on Sunday. 

Most notable was the finale with both pitchers taking no-hitters into the seventh inning.  Gavin Floyd gave up a two-out double to Alfonso Soriano, and a single up the middle by Chad Tracy scored Fonzie with the game's only run.  Ozzie Guillen went against the book by pinch-hitting lefty Juan Pierre against lefty Ted Lilly in the ninth, but it proved to be the right move as Pierre broke up Lilly's no-no with a single.  The Sox eventually loaded the bases before Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin succumbed to Carlos Marmol's offerings.

The win left the Sox with a 39-36 record against the Cubs since the start of interleague regular-season play.  (We all know that the Sox hold the edge in the only post-season play between the two teams, the 1906 World Series.)  But the South Siders' dominance is even more pronounced against the rest of the National League since 2005.  From the World Championship season through 2009, the Sox are a combined 54-36 -- a .600 winning percentage -- in games with the Senior Circuit.  (Given that the American League is in its 110th season this year, isn't it time to stop referring to it as the Junior Circuit?).  And that record includes the disastrous 2007 season, when everything went wrong, and the Sox were horrible overall and 4-14 in interleague play.  Tack on the 4-2 record this year, and Sox fans have to be excited about facing Pittsburgh and Washington this week and slicing the Twins' 7.5 game lead even further.

On second thought, Friday might not be so much fun.  Stephen Strasburg gets the start for Washington.  Strasburg followed up his phenomenal first game with a very solid second game yesterday against Cleveland.  In 5.1 innings, he allowed just two hits and one run while striking out eight.  It turns out that he and Indians' pitcher David Huff were landing on the same spot on the mound and essentially digging a hole that caused Strasburg to slip a number of times.  The bad footing led to five walks -- you could actually see how it was affecting his delivery -- and Strasburg's departure, although he had thrown 95 pitches by that point.  We'll see how he fares when he's up against the Sox.  Actually, I will see how he fares, since I'll be at the games on Friday and Sunday.  Go Sox!

Friday, June 11, 2010


Going into Thursday's game with the Tigers, the White Sox were 1-24 when they scored fewer than four runs in a game, so the fact that the Good Guys managed to win while scoring only three runs yesterday is a major surprise.  We have John Danks to thank for it.  Danks was superb, giving up only one hit and four walks in seven innings.  He allowed only six balls to be hit out of the infield and recorded four strikeouts. 

The bullpen preserved Danks's shutout, but Sergio Santos struggled to do so.  Santos gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases in the eighth and after inducing a popup for the second out, found himself facing the very dangersous Miguel Cabrera.  On a 3-2 pitch, Santos, who is known for his fastball, relied on a nasty changeup to strike out the Detroit star.  Bobby Jenks picked up his 10th save by tossing a scoreless ninth, and the Sox won their second game in a row -- another rare occurrence this season.

The offense had a little something for both longball and small-ball aficionados.  Omar Vizquel and A.J. Pierzynski both homered to right, Vizquel's first of the season in the first inning and A.J.'s third in the eighth.  Both were Han Solo shots -- nobody on base.  Vizquel also drove in a run with a suicide-squeeze bunt that fell just in front of Brandon Inge, permitting Gordon Beckham to score from third.  All in all, the Sox were very efficient, scoring three runs on just five hits.

Now, it's on to Wrigley to battle the sCrUBS for the Crosstown Cup, sponsored by BP.  I've got an idea, maybe BP can take the Cup and put it on top of that gushing oil leak of theirs.  Hey, the only Cup that Chicago fans care about was secured two nights ago in Philadelphia by the Blackhawks.  We don't need no stinkin' Cup to get the fans jazzed up about the Sox playing the team whose name must not be spoken.  Watch the festivities on WGN today and -- hopefully -- enjoy.  Go Sox!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

114 (Sox); 0 (Blackhawks)

Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks, who ended 49 years of frustration last night by winning the Stanley Cup, 4-3 in overtime last night in Philadelphia.  I remember that 1961 team well.  Bobby Hull, Red Hay, Murray Balfour (later killed by a golf ball to the head) on the Million Dollar Babies line; Stan Mikita, Kenny Wharram, and Ab McDonald on the Scooter line; Moose Vasko, Pierre Pilote, Jack Evans, Reggie Fleming as defensemen; Glenn Hall and Denis "Did Not Play" DeJordy in goal; Eric Nesterenko, Chico Maki, etc. filling out the roster.  Those Hawks won the Cup in Detroit in six games, just as this year's edition won in six games on the road.

Those were glory days.  Two years after the Hawks won it all, the Bears did likewise.  And two years before that Cup victory, of course, the Sox won the pennant.  Little did I realize at the time that I would have to wait 49 years for the Blackhawks to win another Stanley Cup, 46 years for the White Sox to win another pennant (and World Series), and 22 years for the Bears to be champions of the NFL again.  And that other team, well, we all know how long they've been waiting to win again.

Speaking of winning, the Sox did last night, 15-3 over Detroit.  Freddy Garcia, the de facto "ace" of the staff, continued his mastery of the Tigers (he's 18-6 lifetime) by allowing only three runs on seven hits in seven innings.  J.J. Putz and Randy Williams each pitched an inning of scoreless relief.  Williams was making a rare appearance in a game the Sox won.  Charter Update subscriber Bob Koza mentioned to me the other day that he turned on the game and heard Williams was pitching and knew the Good Guys were losing without even hearing the score.  Bob's right.  Of Williams's 24 appearances this season, only four of them have come in Sox wins.  It must be kind of frustrating to know that you're likely to pitch only in lost causes.

The big story yesterday for the Sox was at the plate.  Fifteen runs on 16 hits.  Each of the nine starters and the one pinch hitter (Brent Lillibridge, who had a home run) had at least one hit.  Omar Vizquel notched three, and Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Mark Kotsay, and Ramon Castro each collected a pair.  Alexei Ramirez and Castro also homered.  The Sox scored seven runs in an inning twice.  As my Dad always says, they should have saved some of those runs for the next game.  If they could only figure out how.

The win allows the Sox to remain 9.5 games behind the Twins with interleague play just around the corner.  That'd be a good time to get hot -- before Trader Kenny Williams dismantles the team.  Go Sox!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype.  As impossible as that may seem, the Washington Nationals' phenom absolutely dominated in his first major-league start last night in front of 40,000+ fans, including yours truly.  As mentioned in an earlier post, friend Bob Shapiro invited me to join him for the coronation of baseball's newest royalty, and we sat behind home plate in the club section seats.  That view allowed us to see the break on his phenomenal curve ball, which isn't even his best pitch.  His fast ball, which hit 100 MPH, probably is, but he's also got a 96 MPH sinkerball, and a hellacious changeup that had the Pirates missing all night.  All told, Strasburg racked up 14 strikeouts in his seven-inning debut, a new Nats record (not saying much), and the first pitcher to do that since J.R. Richard was a rookie  (that's saying a lot).  The fans were hanging on every pitch and wishing each other a Merry Strasmas throughout the night, as Strasburg picked up the 5-2 win.

What's this got to do with the White Sox?  Not much really, but that's the point.  The Sox have a worse record and are far less exciting than the Nats.  And the Nats lost over 100 games each of the last two years.

I tried not to watch the scoreboard to see how the Sox were doing because I didn't want to be disappointed on a night that was about hope.  But I couldn't help myself.  I was pumped when the Sox jumped to a 2-0 lead on Mark Kotsay's homer (thanks to Bob for looking that up on his I-Phone during the game).  Fortunately, the Nats game was over before the Sox could blow that lead.  Gavin Floyd pitched well for the first time in forever -- 6.0 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 8 K -- but Matt Thornton wasted Floyd's performance.  Thornton, who's been struggling of late, gave up five runs in just one-third of an inning, a real ERA-buster.  Scott Linebrink added to the misery by giving up a run in 1.2 innings.  And the offense had nothing to offer to counter the Tigers' attack.  The Sox don't win when they score fewer than four runs, and last night was no exception to the rule.

The Good Guys are 9.5 games behind the Twins and going nowhere.  It's going to be a real test of my loyalty when the Sox are here and face Strasburg -- looks like it will be June 18 -- since  I've never rooted against them in my life.  Hmmm.  Go Sox or Go Strasburg

Monday, June 7, 2010


I had a round-number birthday on Friday and celebrated by going to the Nationals-Reds game.  It was supposed to be phenom Stephen Strasburg's first start in the majors.  Or at least that's what the Nationals allowed their fans to believe until the game was almost sold out.  Once that happened, they announced that Strasburg would be starting on June 8 against the Pirates, which started a stampede for tickets for that game.  (Fortunately, my friend Bob Shapiro had tickets for both games and generously offered to have me accompany him Tuesday as well).  Friday's game was fun despite the absence of Strasburg, except for my scoreboard-watching of the White Sox-Indians game.  Sheesh, another loss to the team in last place in the division and with the second-worst record in the American League.  It looks like Strasburg will face the Sox on June 18 at Nats Park, and we all know how the Sox do against pitchers they haven't seen before.

One other interesting Sox-related thing occurred.  Joe West, the umpire who called two balks on Mark Buehrle and ejected him and Ozzie Guillen in Buehrle's last start, called a balk on Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez.  Livo didn't throw his glove to the ground in disgust -- though in fairness to Buehrle, it was only one balk call, not two -- and manager Jim Riggleman didn't go out to argue the call, or "protect" his player as Ozzie portrays it.  A couple of innings later, there was a close play at third and the third-base ump, Paul Schreiber, called the Nats' Ian Desmond safe.  West, the crew chief, overruled the call, and Desmond wound up getting thrown out of the game.  The official report says Schreiber tossed him, but Bob and I thought we saw West give him the heave-ho.  Either way, it was somewhat comforting to know that West doesn't limit his antics to picking on the Sox.  Just think about it.  How many umpires' names do you even know?  My point exactly.  Only showboats like Joe West get their names known -- something most umpires studiously avoid.

Speaking of Buehrle, he stunk again yesterday.  He lasted only 3.0 innings, even though it took him 95 pitches to complete those three innings.  Buehrle gave up eight hits and three walks, which led to six runs.  Fortunately, the Sox overcame 3-0 and 6-2 deficits to beat the Indians 8-7.  The bullpen permitted only one run the rest of the way, and J.J. Putz got the win, with Bobby Jenks picking up his ninth save.  Paul Konerko poked his 17th homer, and Carlos Quentin had a two-run hit that provided the winning runs.  

All of this came on the heels of Friday's and Saturday's losses to a truly bad team.  So what does that make the Sox?  I'm afraid the answer might be that they're a bad team too.  They trail the Twins by 8.5 games, but the bigger problem is that they've not given us any reason to believe they can mount a challenge.  There are over 100 games to go, but that may be both the good news and the bad news.  Go Sox!

Friday, June 4, 2010


To err is human; to hit the game-winning home run is divine.  Carlos Quentin was both human and divine last night, as the White Sox edged the Texas Rangers, 4-3, at the Cell.  Q misplayed a ball in right that led to a Ranger run, but came back to smack a two-run home run to give the Sox their ultimate margin of victory.

Freddy Garcia became the team's winningest pitcher -- who'd have predicted that? -- picking up his fifth victory against three defeats.  Garcia was Steady Freddy last night, surrendering only three runs, two of them earned, on seven hits and a walk over seven innings.  Matt Thornton and Bobby Jenks came in to pitch scoreless ball in the eighth and ninth, each striking out two, to pick up the hold and the save.

Quentin's blast was one of three on the night, with Andruw Jones (his 10th) and Alex Rios (his 12th) clubbing the other two.  The familiar formula of "Warm weather + the Cell = home runs" was in full effect yesterday.  Of course, that begs the question that we've been asking since before the season started: Why try to create a small-ball team when you play in a home-run park?  Okay, we'll leave it alone, but inquiring minds want to know.

The other good news Thursday was the Twins' third loss in a row.  Combined with the Good Guys' win, that leaves the Sox 7.5 games behind Minnesota.  Go Sox!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


There's not much good news here, so let's keep it short.

The White Sox lost to Texas last night, 9-5.  The good news: Minnesota lost, so the Sox are still 8.5 games back.

Gavin Floyd stunk.  Again.  Floyd is now 2-6 on the season with a 6.64 ERA.  He didn't even last three innings, giving up six runs on eight hits and three walks in just 2.2 innings pitched.  The good news: He's not scheduled to pitch in the next four games and both Scott Linebrink (three strikeouts) and Bobby Jenks each pitched an inning of scoreless relief.

Seven spots in the Sox batting order produced a total of three hits.  The good news:  Paul Konerko went 3 for 4 with four runs batted in, on the strength of two homers -- his 15th and 16th of the season; Alex Rios was 2 for 4, including a double, raising his team-high batting average to .319.   

The Hawks lost to the Flyers in overtime.  The good news: Now they get to win the Cup at home.

Go Sox!  Go Hawks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


It's hard to gain ground on the Twins when you can't put together a winning streak, and it's hard to put together a winning streak when you triumph only 18% of the time in the game after a win.  By losing to the Texas Rangers last night, the White Sox fell to 4-18 in games following a victory.  They've had only three winning streaks all season -- a two-gamer on April 11 and 12 against the Twins and Blue Jays; a three-game sweep of Seattle on April 23-25; and another two-game skein against the Marlins on May 21-22.  By contrast, the Sox have had seven losing streaks --  two four-game stretches and five sets of back-to-back losses.  That's no way to get it done.

Speaking of done, I'm wondering if Mark Buehrle is.  Buehrle lost a 4-0 lead by giving up 12 hits and six runs last night in 5.1 innings and saw his record drop to 3-6 and his ERA rise from 4.38 to 4.84.  I had been encouraged by Buehrle's last two outings in which he had shut out the opposition over 10.1 innings, but he reverted to the form he showed in his six starts before that -- 29 earned runs in 36.1 innings for a 7.18 ERA and a record of 0-5.  Don't be surprised to see Mark pitching for his beloved St. Louis Cardinals later this year.  The change of leagues would probably do him a lot of good.  A big part of me would hate to see him go, but hopefully, Kenny will get something good if he does deal him.

The Sox lost a chance to pick up ground on the Twins, who also lost last night, so they remain 8.5 games behind Minnesota.  The Magic Number drops to 120, courtesy of the Piranhas' loss.  Let's win today and avoid an eighth losing streak.  Go Sox!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The White Sox played the best-record-in-baseball Rays even over the weekend, winning the second and fourth games of the four-game series.  What are the odds of that?  Well, it depends on what you mean by "that."

Before the series began, the likelihood of the Sox, with their .435 winning percentage, beating the Rays ,with their .667 winning percentage, in a single game on a neutral field was around 27%.  (I've explained the formula for calculating this before.  It's complicated and not worth doing again.)  The chance of winning the second and fourth games out of four is 73%*27%*73%*27%, which equals 3.88%.  So if that's what we mean by "that," then there was less than a 4% chance of winning the second and fourth game -- very unlikely. 

If what we mean is winning any two out four games (which is what I meant), then we don't care in which order the Sox win them.  There are six combinations of outcomes where the Sox could win two games (win games 1,2; 1,3; 1,4; 2,3; 2,4; 3,4), so we have to multiply 3.88% by 6, which equals 23.3% -- still unlikely, but not shocking. 

What would have been shocking is the Sox winning all four games, which had a probability of about 0.5%.  By contrast, the Rays sweeping was actually more likely than the two teams splitting -- a roughly 28% chance.  (Just for the sake of completeness, the Rays had a 42% chance of going 3-1 and a 5.7% chance of going 1-3.)

None of these calculations reflects the fact that the game was played in Tampa or that the percentages of winning a single game change a bit after each game is played, but I've got a lot to do today, so that kind of analysis will just have to wait for when I've got more time to play with the numbers.

In any event, the Sox are now 8.5 games back of the Twins, with a Magic Number of 121.  But now they're back home, where they have a somewhat better record.  Go Sox!