Javier Vazquez – After struggling early, Vazquez settled in and pitched very well, going seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Vazquez had some control issues early and fell behind several hitters, but after the fourth, he attacked the strike zone and the results were no coincidence.
He retired the final 10 batters he faced and looked like the dominant Vazquez of 2007, a very good sign after he struggled last Wednesday against Cleveland.
Joe Crede – I know there are a lot of statheads out there who will crunch a lot of numbers to try to disprove the idea of "clutch."
Joe Crede cares not for these people. "Clutch Crede" returned today in the seventh inning with a go-ahead grand slam off one of the best relievers in the game, Pat Neshek.
Call it selective memory or call it what you like, but Crede is truly clutch. That was his fifth grand slam of his career. And if you look back at his slams, I'm pretty sure four out of the five have either tied the game or given the Sox the lead.
I've been one of the biggest champions for Josh Fields since the season started. However, the way Crede has played is reminding me of the 2006 version of Crede. He looks healthy and is in a rhythm at the plate.
And with Crede hitting eighth in this lineup, watch out.
The offense – Again, this lineup battled and wore down a starter to force a team into its bullpen before the end of the sixth inning.
Today, it was Nick Blackburn, who looked very good in his five innings of work. He was getting ahead in counts and throwing strikes with his breaking pitches.
However, this lineup wore down Blackburn and made him throw 90 pitches in his five innings of work. He only surrendered two runs on seven hits and two walks in his start, but Sox hitters wore him down and forced the rookie out early.
After Matt Guerrier shut down the Sox in the sixth, Chicago came out and battled in the seventh, ultimately forcing him out of the game with runners on the corners in favor of Neshek.
Jermaine Dye battled with Neshek before hitting a soft line drive up the middle to bring home the tying run. After A.J. Pierzynski struck out, Carlos Quentin singled to load the bases for Crede.
Two pitches later, the Sox had a 7-3 lead.
There's just a different feel with the Sox lineup this year. They're being patient and not swinging for the fences every time up. If they get a pitch they can drive, then yes, they'll uncork a big swing, but they're doing an excellent job of taking what the pitcher gives them.
Today was a perfect example of this resurgent offense.
Bobby Jenks – Jenks nailed down his fourth save of the year by getting Minnesota to ground into a double play.
The way Jenks and this team is going right now, he should be well on his way to 40+ saves for the third straight year.
The NCAA Championship Game–I'm not going to nitpick this game–the Sox have won five in a row and are in first place.
So, again, I've had to find something that is completely unrelated to what's going on out there on the field.
I have two bones to pick with the NCAA Championship Game tonight. First, the NCAA always hires away White Sox Public Address Gene Honda for the game, so fans in attendance were deprived of his deep baritone voice announcing the Opening Day lineup.
Second, to editorialize for a minute, Kansas is playing in the game. Not cool. Not cool at all. Let's go Memphis!
Scott Linebrink–He finally gave up a run, but to his credit, it was one of those "Murphy's Law" innings that happen so frequently against Minnesota.
After a leadoff walk and a Justin Morneau bloop single, Delmon Young hit a liner right up the middle that Linebrink deflected for an infield single.
He ended up getting out of the inning and minimizing the damage, though. It was nothing to be worried about and because he gave the run up, Jenks got a save opportunity.