Thursday, July 28, 2011


Alejandro De Aza was batting 1.000 and slugging 4.000 after his first at bat yesterday, which was also his first in the big leagues this year. The math whizzes among you know that this means the recent White Sox call-up – he played for Triple A Charlotte on Tuesday – homered in his first trip to the plate. De Aza’s two-run blast constituted the entirety of the Sox scoring for the day, but thanks to good pitching from John Danks, Chris Sale, and Sergio Santos, the Good Guys prevailed 2-1 over the Tigers in the rubber match of the series.

I was actually surprised that De Aza was in Chicago, having expected Dayan Viciedo to be the next player promoted from the minors. But Viciedo has a sore thumb and Kenny Williams said that he did not want to bring up a player that couldn’t play. Makes sense to me and you can’t argue with the results that De Aza provided in taking over for the terminally bad Alex Rios.

Danks, who is 4-0 and has given up only four earned runs in his last six starts, pitched very effectively. He worked 6.0 innings and allowed only one run – a solo home run by Austin Jackson – despite giving up six hits and three walks. Danks worked his way out of jams thanks to 10 strikeouts and help from Sale. The reliever tossed 2.2 innings of no hit, no run ball before giving way to Santos, who retired one batter for his 21st save.

Adam Dunn merits one offensive note. (Not offensive. Offensive.) The Big Donkey reached base four times yesterday on a hit and three walks. This follows a game where he homered, so maybe our long national nightmare is over. Wishful thinking or the start of something good? Stay tuned to find out.

Off the field, the Sox were busy. Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen were traded to the Blue Jays for pitchers Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart. Frasor is a reliever and Stewart is a highly rated prospect in the Toronto minor league system. (Jackson wound up in St. Louis in a subsequent transaction.) And there’s plenty of time to make more trades. We’re not predicting that Kenny’s doing more deals, but he seems to like trading as much as any GM out there.

The win tightens the Central Division race a bit. The Sox are now only 3.5 games behind Detroit and only 1.5 games back of Cleveland. On the other hand, the South Siders are only 2.5 games ahead of Minnesota. None of those four teams is going to be the wild card, so it’s division winner take all as far as the playoffs is concerned. And speaking of division winners, the Sox entertain the Red Sox for a three game set. We’ve had their number lately. Let’s hope it stays that way. Go White Sox!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


So the very day I write about how the White Sox are 12-6 when hitting two home runs in a game, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko each slug two-run homers … but the Sox lose to the Tigers, 5-4. I’d say it’s the sportswriter jinx in operation, but I’m not really a sportswriter. Maybe it’s just the fan jinx that my Dad believed in so strongly. He wouldn’t watch games on TV because he thought it was bad luck. He wasn’t really superstitious – well he did say "God willing" and "God forbid" a lot – but he was convinced that somehow his watching could affect the outcome. If only he could have used his superpowers for good not evil ….

Anyway, the most galling thing about Monday’s defeat was that it was Wilson Betemit who singled in the winning run. You remember him, don’t you? The Sox picked up Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez from the Yankees for Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira (not to be confused with Mark Teixeira, although both are currently on the Bronx Bombers after Kanekoa spent time with Seattle and KC before returning) after the 2008 season. Betemit appeared in 20 games for the Good Guys, batted .200, had an on-base percentage of .280 and a slugging percentage of .311, and drove in a total of three runs all season. Those are pathetic numbers and explain why the Sox made no effort to keep him and his $1.3 million salary on the 2009 team. Yet last night he drove in the game winner. The only explanation that makes any sense is that my Dad was watching up in heaven – or wherever the hell he is.

Go Sox! Go Dad!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


“Chicks Dig the Long Ball” was an advertising campaign back in the unenlightened days. “Sox Fans Dig the Long Ball” carries none of the stigma and expresses what we should be feeling. The White Sox beat the Tigers last night, 6-3, behind Mark Buehrle’s pitching, Carlos Quentin’s bases-loaded double, and the Long Ball, courtesy of A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko.

This season, when the Sox notch two home runs, the team has a 12-6 record. It’s 4-2 when the club pokes three taters, and 1-0 when smashing four. Overall, that’s 17-8 when going yard multiple times. By comparison, the South Siders are 15-21 when hitting only one homer and 18-22 when no one has a four-bagger.

Buehrle was the beneficiary of the offensive output, throwing 6.0 innings of two-run ball. He held Detroit to just those two runs despite allowing 10 hits (and a walk). Think back to yesterday’s post on hit-to-run ratio and you’ll remember that teams are generally just above or below two hits per run. Last night against Buehrle, the Tigers were at five hits per run. Way to keep the runners from scoring, Mark.

Speaking of runners not scoring, how bad are the Sox on the base paths? Juan Pierre was picked off and both Adam Dunn and Brent Morel were cut down by outfielders. At least Dunn has an excuse: He’s so rarely on base that he’s obviously forgotten what to do when he gets there.

The win against the division leaders moves the Sox to just 3.5 games out of first place, with a chance to gain more in the next two nights of head to head competition with the Tigers. If Monday’s crowd is any indication – attendance listed at 37,110 – there’ll be plenty of folks to cheer on the Good Guys. Go Sox!

Monday, July 25, 2011


With the aid of a rainout, the White Sox swept the Indians over the weekend. The Sox took Friday’s game 3-0 and Sunday’s game 4-2, while Saturday’s game was postponed. The sweep allowed the South Siders to move within 2.5 games of the second-place Tribe; it also leaves them 4.5 games back of the first-place Tigers, who visit the Cell for three games starting tonight.

I was traveling back from a wedding in Pittsburgh – no, not the Ben Roethlisberger nuptials – and listened to the game on XM radio, which offered only the Cleveland announcers. They seemed rather down on their team, but managed to insult the Sox just the same by talking about the Indians’ next opponent (the Angels) as having really good pitching, unlike the White Sox. I thought to myself, “Hey, you’ve scored two runs in two games. What does it take to qualify as good pitching in your book?” (Actually, I said it out loud, drawing the same look from my wife I always receive when I talk to the radio or TV.)

Announcers aside, Sox pitching deserves credit, but I’m more interested in the efficiency of their run production. Sunday, the Good Guys scored four runs on just six hits, a hits per run ratio of 1.50. On Friday, it was three runs on eight hits, for a 2.67 ratio. For the season, the club has needed 2.15 hits to score a run. Compare that to the Boston Red Sox who have the best record in the American League and have posted a 1.88 hits per run ratio. That means the White Sox are only 87% as efficient in scoring this season as the Red Sox. No surprise the Bosox are in first and the Chisox are in third in a weak division.

Go Sox! Get more efficient!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


John Danks deserved better.  The White Sox lefty sparkled last night, shutting out Kansas City for seven innings on five hits and a walk.  But the Sox gave him no support, and the Good Guys lost 2-1 in 11 innings.  The winning run scored on a wild pitch by Sergio Santos, which is reason enough to trot out our list of ways to score from third base on something other than a hit:
1. Walk with the bases loaded
2. Hit by pitch with the bases loaded
3. Sacrifice fly
4. Sacrifice bunt
5. Ground out
6. Error
7. Wild pitch
8. Passed ball
9. Dropped third strike and throw to first
10. Steal of home
11. Fielder interference with the runner at third
12. Catcher interference with the bases loaded
13. Balk
14. Defensive indifference on attempted steal of home, which doesn’t count as a stolen base
15. Infield fly rule where ball drops to the ground
16. Fielder carries ball into stands
Admittedly, some of these are highly unlikely and No. 14 is almost inconceivable, but they're all theoretical possibilities.  And speaking of theoretical, that's what the South Siders' chances of winning the division will be unless they get some hitting.  The Sox are 4.5 games behind both the Surprising Indians and the Tigers, and only 0.5 games ahead of the Twins.  The time to start winning is now!  Go Sox!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The White Sox won the game last night – 5-2 over the Royals in KC – but still lost ground in the Central Division race to the Surprising Indians, who took two from the Twins and now lead the South Siders by 4.5 games. (Speaking of surprises, the Pirates are also in first place! Hell, they haven’t had a winning record for the season since Barry Bonds left in 1992. And speaking of Hell, I believe it’s about to freeze over.) At least, the Good Guys gained a game and a half on the Twinkies, who were getting too close for comfort.

The key to last night’s game was Mark Buehrle. By throwing seven innings of two-run, five-hit ball, he picked up his 22nd career win over the Royals – the most among active pitchers. The bullpen was even better. Jesse Crain held KC hitless and scoreless for 1.0 innings; Matt Thornton did the same for 0.2 innings; and Sergio Santos did so for 0.1 innings. Buehrle threw strikes on 76 of his 111 pitches or 68%. Crain and Thornton topped that with 10 of 12 and six of eight, respectively. Santos was right there with three of five. Good things happen when you throw strikes.

The Sox managed only seven hits but converted those safeties into five runs with the help of a Royals error that made two of the runs unearned. Juan Pierre collected two of those seven hits as he continues to make himself trade bait, which doesn’t fit with the All-In theme, but makes sense given the need to find somewhere for Dayan Viciedo to play. Viciedo isn’t a leadoff man, though, so how this rumored departure of Pierre works out is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, Gordon Beckham went 1 for 4 and lowered his batting average. Just a month ago, a 1 for 4 game was a big improvement, but Becks has been on a tear lately.

The same can’t be said about Adam Dunn, who has now dipped below .160. It actually pains me to watch him hit, having seen him when he was a stud for the Nats for the last two years and knowing what a good guy he is. But no one’s crazy enough to take on his or Alex Rios’s contracts, so get used to seeing those guys destroy any hope of a White Sox offense.

Go Sox!

Monday, July 18, 2011


The All-Star break is over and the White Sox had a chance to sweep the Tigers, leading 3-0 in the third game of the series after taking the first two. Instead, they wound up losing 4-3 and had to settle for a Meat Loaf. The question is whether we’ll be happy if they win two games in every remaining series. At first blush, it sounds good. But when you look at the remaining schedule, it’s not so clear.

There are 21 series left on the schedule – one two-game set with the Angels; four four-game series with the Yankees, Indians, Orioles, and Royals; and 16 traditional three-game slates – plus a rain out against Oakland that may not be made up unless it means something. If the Sox win two games in each of those and win the make-up game, they’ll tack another 43 games onto the win column. That’ll leave them with a final record of 89-73. Is that good enough to win the Central Division?

Well, the hypothetical assumes that they go 8-5 against Cleveland and 6-3 against Detroit, so they make up three of the four-game deficit they currently have against both teams right there. It assumes they go 6-3 against the Twins, so they increase their one-game lead against Minnesota as well. It all depends on whether one of the other teams gets hotter than the hypothetical 43-24 record the Good Guys rack up.

Personally, put me down for it right now. It’s the A.L. Central we’re talking about. The division leading Indians and Tigers would be in fourth place in the A.L. East and third place in the A.L. West. All in all, I’ll take my chances with the Sox winning two games in each series from here on out. Given what we’ve seen so far this year, this almost certainly won’t happen, but we can dream, can’t we? Go Sox!

Monday, July 11, 2011


“Disappointed” is the best way to describe how I feel about the White Sox at the All-Star break. I was excited when they went “all in” and signed Adam Dunn and re-signed Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski. The prospect of getting Jake Peavy back to go along with John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, and Edwin Jackson was tantalizing. The bullpen was a question mark, but I figured that Don Cooper would work his usual magic and find someone to take over the closer role.

Well, we know how it’s played out so far. Adam Dunn looks like the worst investment this side of my 401K. Whether it’s the pressure of the big contract, being a DH, playing in the tougher American League, or just bad luck, it doesn’t really matter. Dunn is helping to kill the Sox offense. Alex Rios, whom the club is also spending a boatload of money on, is his accomplice. You can’t have two guys like that who were supposed to anchor the middle of the order contribute nothing and expect to win the division. Toss in subpar seasons from Gordon Beckham – was last year a sophomore slump or was his rookie year an aberrationally good one? – and Brent Morel and you’ve got real problems. And that’s despite getting more than anyone had a right to expect from Paulie and A.J. and decent production – though not All-Star quality in my opinion – from Carlos Quentin.

The starting pitching has been a disappointment – there’s that word again – except for Phil Humber and to some extent Buehrle, but no one more so than Danks. His inability to get off the Schneid and then his getting hurt when you think of him as your best pitcher really hurts. Kudos to Sergio Santos for seizing the closer’s role, and to the rest of the bullpen for some decent performances, but they’ve had their share of problems too.

I know this sounds pretty pessimistic, but what is there to be optimistic about? Maybe the hope that Dunn and Rios have to get better because they can’t get worse? Maybe a sense that the team has to play better against the Central Division because it can’t get worse? All I do know is that a team with a pretty high payroll is not producing like it should. They’re 5.0 games behind Detroit and haven’t been able to close the gap on the teams ahead of them despite those teams slumping a bit themselves. Post-break, the Sox continue to play within the division, so there’s an opportunity to make up some ground. Or fall farther behind. I’m hoping for the former but afraid of the latter. Go Sox!

Friday, July 8, 2011


A message to Paul Konerko from Smashmouth: “Hey, now, you’re an All-Star, get your game on – go play.” Yep, Paulie won the online fan vote and is going home to Phoenix for the All-Star Game. A wrong has been righted.

Speaking of wrong, that’s exactly what the White Sox are when they play the Twins. Another game against Minnesota, another loss, this time 6-2. That makes the Sox 0-5 against the Twinkies in 2011 and narrows the gap between the two teams to 2.5 games. The Good Guys’ lead could be gone by the end of this series if they don’t shape up.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but let’s focus on what has been an unlikely source this year: Philip Humber. Magic Humber lasted just 3.2 innings and he shouldn’t have made it that long. He gave up six runs on 11 hits and a walk, by far his worst performance of the season. But even with that abysmal outing, Humber’s ERA is still only 3.10, which just shows how good he’s been before this.

On the bright side, rookie Hector Santiago relieved Humber and threw 4.1 innings of one-hit, no-run ball. Brian Bruney did the same for one inning. Gordon Beckham picked up two hits, raising his batting average to .241, and Mark Teahen kept the Sox from being shut out by poking a two-run homer.

The Sox lost ground on both Cleveland and Detroit, the two teams ahead of them and now stand 5.5 games out of the lead. Since last reaching .500, the South Siders have lost three in a row, and they still have three left in this series against their nemesis, the Twins. Go Sox!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


The White Sox are not going to win the Central Division if they can’t beat Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, and Kansas City. And so far, including yesterday’s loss to the Royals, they can’t.

The Sox are decent against the East and the West, posting an 11-12 record against the Right Coast teams and a 14-13 mark against the Left Coasters. They’re better than decent against the National League at 11-7. But the Good Guys are no good – 7-13 – against their Central Division brethren. That won’t get it done.

The good news is the South Siders have plenty of opportunities to turn things around, since they’ve got more games to play against division rivals than any other team in the Central does. The Sox have played just 20 intra-division games, while the Tiger have finished 22, the Twins 23, the Indians 25, and the Royals 28.

The time to start is now. Minnesota invades the Cell for four games before the All-Star break. In 2011, the Sox are 0-4 against the Twinkies, and they’ve lost seven in a row, including last year. The team is 6-26 in its last 32 games against Minnesota. The reason for the losing this year appears to be a lack of hitting rather than a pitching problem. The Sox are batting .174 and have scored only three runs in the four games. Sox pitchers have a 2.38 ERA, allowing nine earned runs in 34.0 innings pitched. Warm up the bats. Beat the Twins. Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Back in the saddle after a long Fourth of July weekend and all I want to talk about is Paul Konerko not making the All-Star team. The White Sox captain not only deserves to be on the team, it’s not even close. Paulie is hitting .324, he’s smacked 22 home runs, and he’s driven in 64 runs – top five in everyone of the Triple Crown categories.
In fact, going into yesterday’s action – the most recent stats available on – there were only two players in the American League who were batting over .300, had over 20 homers, and exceeded 50 RBI: Jose Bautista, who set the record for most votes received in the All-Star balloting; and Konerko.
Yes, I know that Paulie is on the ballot for the online voting of the last player to be added to the roster and the Sox are campaigning hard for him with their “Paul Star” promotion. But it shouldn’t have come to that. The guy is having an MVP kind of season – though Bautista’s admittedly is better – not a marginal All-Star kind of season. And with all due respect to Carlos Quentin, if the Sox get only one player on the team, it should be Paul Konerko.
After meat loafing the Cubs and splitting so far with the Royals, the Sox are still in third place, but just 3.5 games behind Cleveland in the A.L. Central race. The Magic Number is down to 81, with the rubber game against KC and then a series with the Twins before the break. Go Sox! Go Paulie!

Friday, July 1, 2011


With a day game following a night game and travel from Denver to Chicago on tap, Ozzie tried to rest some of his starters, but it didn’t work. Despite starting the game on the bench, Brent Morel, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Quentin, and Paul Konerko each wound up pinch-hitting due to a close game. But the bigger plan worked out, as the White Sox came from behind to tie the Rockies and then win it in ten innings, 6-4.
Juan Pierre continued his hot streak – 7 for 14 in the series – driving in the tying run with a sacrifice fly and then the winning runs with a bases-loaded single off the wall in right. Pierre was 3 for 5 and even stole a base.
Other plus performances included Gordon Beckham’s 7th home run and Adam Dunn’s 0 for 3. Why is an 0 for 3 day a plus? Because he didn’t strike out for a change.
Jake Peavy started and gave up all four runs during his six-inning stint, but the bullpen shut down Colorado the remaining four innings. Jesse Crain got the win, improving to 4-2, and Sergio Santos picked up his 17th save.
The Sox didn’t lead the game until the tenth inning. They notched just their fourth win of the year – out of 36 games – when trailing after seven innings.
Let’s hope this creates some momentum – there’s no such thing in sports according to the book Scorecasting, which makes a persuasive case on this point (and many others) – since the Sox start play against the Cubs at Wrigley today. Go Sox!