What a Game!…Sox End it With Beckham Walk-Off to Win 8-7

I experienced a variety of emotions throughout this see-saw battle of a ballgame.  It was a great ballgame, very entertaining, as these Sox-Cubs games always are.  I cannot remember the last boring Sox-Cubs game I’ve seen.  It is always like the postseason in June every year when these games come around. Outstanding.

Still, while I loved seeing Beckham come through with the opposite field shot in the game over Bradley’s head, I was disturbed once again by this shaky defense, with three errors on the day, and a general inability on the part of Sox pitchers to pitch over errors.  It seemed every time the Cubs swang the bat, they made contact and found a hole somewhere.  The Sox pitchers are not strikeout pitchers in general, which requires their defense behind them to be close to airtight.  They are anything but.  When the Sox won in 2005, they had an airtight defense behind non-strikeout pitchers.  Without this, I see this Sox team remaining a .500 team for the rest of the year .

Part of the problem is this infield is out of position.  When Beckham made the diving attempt, leading to Ramirez’ error, he was using his shortstop instincts while playing third base. Beckham needs to be playing shortstop. Ramirez was better last year at second base than shortstop this year.  I’m not sure what you would then do with Getz and Nix.  I wouldn’t be against sending Ramirez down to learn how to cut down his swing and learn how to be what he should be – a contact hitter, not a power hitter.  Still, I know we will likely have to simply live with what we have this year – a decent pitching, okay hitting, and defensively challenged team that will hover around the .500 mark all season.  Still, I will take the exciting win today, and look for the series win tomorrow.

 

 

 

Contreras Stellar in 7-1 Win Over Brewers

Contreras Fires One Against the Brewers

On my first trip to Miller Park today for a bachelor party of a cousin, I was not at all disappointed. The game was great with Contreras’ second consecutive strong outing. I will admit I had my doubts going into this game, even with Parra’s high ERA, but Contreras was fantastic, frustrating hitters, and using his fastball. Great to see. I believe that was key today – use of his fastball. When Contreras gets too enamored with his forkball, the game slows down and his command tends to not be sharp. Contraras had a nice pace to his game today, and Castro had a nice game behind the plate as well as at the dish with a home run.

Konerko singling on the first pitch he saw today was a good sign. I would have never known he had problems with his thumb, and I love the professionalism and attitude he brings to his game. Nix was impressive to me with the way he cracked the ball with authority. In general, I was quite impressed with the Sox overall offensive approach, with line drives and solid contact. It was also great to see Beckham get his first two RBI of his career. I thought he got his first home run as well, but was caught at the center field wall. Had he hit that to left, it would have been gone.

For the most part, I liked what I saw today, but realistically, in the big picture, I still think this team will need to be a seller in a couple weeks or so. Their infield is in disarray with Ramirez swinging for the fenses with each long whack he takes at pitches both in and out of the strike zone. His fielding, great play today not withstanding, has been shaky at best at shortstop. Beckham is out of position and should be playing shortstop. Ramirez needs to work on shortening his swing on the minors, learning to hit line drives and stop trying to be a home run hitter. This instability in the middle infield between Ramirez and the platoon of Nix and Getz, combined with a center fielder in Anderson who is strong defensively but unable to hit anything but a fastball he knows is coming presents some major problems for this team to win with any consistency. Every time a ground ball is hit in the infield, I hold my breath because time and again I see uncertainty and double-clutching – just bad middle infield defense, with Fields and Beckham having their moments at third base as well. I am a White Sox fan for life, and want them to win. But I think it is time for the White Sox organization to be honest with themselves and with the fans in admitting they need to use 2009 to find out who they are and what they need to become so they can win in 2010 and beyond…

Not Good Right Now…Sox Lose Yet Another Series and Game Against Rangers 7-1

Paul Konerko’s words were not profound after today’s game, but they certainly were concise and accurate – “We’re not good right now.”  That’s an understatement.  There is nothing this team is doing consistently well.  They will pitch well one game, and be terrible the next.  They will hit one day, and be unable to touch the next pitcher they face. Mediocre to bad teams do this – they are inconsistent.  To bank on Bartolo Colon and Contreras was a gross miscalculation any fan could see.  But with the current economic climate, the Sox went on the cheap and signed Colon instead of signing Jon Garland, whom they could have gotten at a decent price, even if he would have been more than Colon.  With the way this team is now swinging it, I suppose you could argue it doesn’t matter who pitches, and Colon has been at least serviceable so far this year, and on the whole, much better than I thought he might be.  Still, the more I watch this year, the more I see what I believe this team is…2007(b).  It’s gonna be a long summer, and it hasn’t even gotten hot yet…

Ozzie’s Look Said it All…Contreras and Sox Shut Out 6-0

There was a shot of Ozzie in the dugout after Contreras threw yet another wild pitch.  He had his head in his hands as he shook his head.  The look was priceless and spoke more words than even Ozzie has to say – and that’s saying something. Jose Contreras made an amazing comeback from an achilles injury, and got himself in fantastic shape.  Unfortunately, it has not translated in the regular season, and this has almost certainly been Contreras’ last start – at least for a while.  I’m not sure what viable options the Sox have in triple-A, but on the big league club, I would be inclined to try Clayton Richard.  Whatever the Sox do, a change is certainly necessary.

After being shut out five times already on the young season, I think the offensive flaws of this team are quite evident.  They are not aggressive like the Rangers and Blue Jays offense – attacking pitches and hitting line drives.  This team too often hits fly balls or ground balls, but rarely line drives in the gap.  This has been the case for years, and I think it is high time for this team to create a new offensive identity.  I know this will almost certainly not happen this year, but I expect a very different looking team next year.  It’s sad to say I’m already looking ahead because this is looking like 2007 all over again. The last two nights have been a microcosm of the season – an incredible Buehrle pitching performance, perfect through 7 and 1/3, with plenty of offense, followed by no offense and horrendous pitching.  That is what comprises, among other things, a .500 team.  Unfortunately, I expect little else from this team this year. 

 

Swept Away…Sox Lose to Royals 8-7

True, the White Sox have been banged up, but they have not been able to put this together in a while now.  Pitching was supposed to be the strength of this team, but Floyd, Contreras, and even Danks have been shaky to say the least.  You cannot continue to give up big leads on the road and expect to slug your way back to win.  That is not going to happen with any consistency.  This team simply has far too many holes to win.  the hitting is spotty and untimely.  The pitching is mediocre at best.  And I’m already setting into the idea this is basically going to be an up-and-down .500 team all year.  It feels like 2007 all over again.

Team Ball…Sox Beat Rangers in Series Opener With 4-3 Win

The return of Jim Thome, Chris Getz, and an old friend in Scott Podsednik helped the White Sox in a very nice team victory tonight.  Of course, Mark Buerhle did his part, as he does so often with steadiness and consistency.  I feel priviledged as a White Sox fan to watch this soft-spoken talent go about his workmanlike business with professionalism and poise.  I feel I have been watching a real gift to pitching, a guy who knows how to pitch. A true professional.  Mark Buehrle may not have the blazing fastball, but the guy is as steady as they come.  Fantastic.  I’m thrilled this guy is 4-0.  He deserves it.

I found it incredibly symbolic to have a Sox hero of the past – Scott Podsednik, was driven in for the game-winning run by the young Chris Getz, who does nothing but impress me more the more I watch him.  This kid comes back from a finger fracture, and all he does on his first day back in the lineup is pick up his first career triple, driving in the winning run in a clutch situation.  I was glad to see this was an error-free game as well, a feel-good story with the return of Scotty Pods, and a great night for Thome, driving in a huge three runs with a double, picking up 1501 RBI for his incredible career.  Let’s go for the series win tomorrow…

 

Sox Win Game and Series With 6-3 Victory Over Mariners

This is a game which could have easily gotten away from the Sox after going down 3-1.  Floyd gave up 3 earned over six innings of work – not outstanding, but not bad either.  The Sox were able to put together enough offense to get it done behind homers from Pierzynski, Quentin, and Dye.  AJ said it best when he commented after the game the Sox will win, at the end of the day with homers from the middle of the lineup.  I’m a little frustrated with the Sox’ inability to stay healthy laterly, with Anderson now injured.  I cannot figure out why oblique strains seem to have become such a frequent injury these days, but it is enough to hold Anderson out for a bit.  Fortunately, even not at full strength, the Sox managed to take a tough series against one of the better teams in the game right now.  It’s off to Texas and let’s win there…

Settling for a Split – Sox Win 2-1 by Day, Get Torched by Night With 9-1 Loss

It was good to see Colon look much better than he did in Baltimore, with Bobby Jenks able to close out the Mariners in spite of some tense moments in the ninth.  Danks did not have as good of an evening in game 2, giving up 5 earned over just 4 innings of work, with Carrasco and Broadway not faring much better.  This is a blip on the screen for Danks, who had an ERA under 1 coming into tonight’s ballgame.  He didn’t have a good night, but he has done his share so far, and I expect he will continue to do so as the season goes on because he is a bulldog, a fighter, a winner.  Let’s go for the series win tomorrow…

Close, But no Cigar…Sox Lose 4-3 to Jays

In spite of this loss, I feel good about a few things coming away from this game.  Contreras, who has struggled this season, only gave up three earned over seven innings, which is quite an accomplishment for any pitcher against an offense like this, but especially for a struggling pitcher. It will not get any easier with the red hot Mariners coming to town tomorrow, but I was glad to see Brian Anderson go 3-for-4 and swinging with authority and confidence, against one of the best pitchers in the league.  This is Brian’s last chance from what I can see.  This is his final shot to make it as the starting center fielder for the White Sox, and so far he has made the most of his opportunity.  Still, there are no moral victories in baseball, but I would rather have something positive to take away from a loss then nothing at all, like the Friday night disaster.  The Sox were competitive all day.  They did not hit enough, but it was a Cy Young winner on the hill.  They could have lost to a worse pitcher.  They will have to try to begin a new winning streak tomorrow.

Payback is Sweet – Sox Return the Favor to Jays with 10-2 Win

Mark Buehrle was Mark Buehrle – solid, and a true stopper.  The defense looked like nothing the Sox did last night, which was disasterous.  Tonight it was anything but.  Jerry Owens’ catch in the gap was ridiculous.  I could hardly believe what I was seeing.  I thought this guy way done, gone, off the team forever, but he is back and contributing. Incredible.  The Sox also hit the ball, with Dye going deep for a 2-run shot, and Ramirez breaking out of his funk with a grand slam.  I was so glad to see that, not just for the team and the game, but for his mental state as well.  I’m glad to see the fight and the victory.  The lopsidedness of the victories gives me pause…the way the Sox either kill or get killed is reminiscent of teams past I would rather forget, but this is the team we have.  Beating Halliday will be a tall order tomorrow.  I’m not even sure I can see how the Sox can win tomorrow.  Stranger things have happened though.  Let’s get em’ tomorrow.