Athletics 2, White Sox 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent
Box score: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2008_04_14_oakmlb_chamlb_1&mode=gameday
In his first game against his former club, Swisher picked up two hits and a walk to go along with a big gamble that ultimately led to a run scoring.
In the bottom of the sixth, Swisher singled with one out. Orlando Cabrera laced a single into left-center and Swisher dug hard for third, barely making it in safely with a headfirst dive.
Jim Thome then grounded out to give the White Sox their first run of the game—a run that would not have scored if Swisher didn't take third. In fact, Thome's ground ball may have been an inning-ending double play, as the A's were not playing as big of a shift against Thome with Swisher on third.
Swisher nearly tied the game in the eighth when he flew out to the warning track. At least Hawk Harrelson's call was comical. "That ball hit deep! Way back! Stretch! Stretch! Denorfia looks up, and...No! No!...Dadgumit!"
There's no question Swisher has had an impact on this team with the intensity he brings to the ballpark every day. It's something that simply cannot be measured by stats.
Joe Crede's Defense
Since Crede hasn't played since last May, I had forgotten just how incredible he is at third base. Today was business as usual for Crede, making two spectacular diving stops to his right to take away hits from the A's.
While I'm very much a fan of Josh Fields, if he's at third the A's have two extra hits—one of which would have brought home an extra run as well.
This was a typical Buehrle start today—seven innings, two runs, a lot of hits, but also a few key double plays to get him out of trouble.
Unfortunately for Buehrle, the offense was completely clueless against Johan...er, Greg Smith, and couldn't get him the run support he deserved for a win.
This game could have really gotten out of hand if not for Logan saving Mike MacDougal's butt.
After MacDougal (see below, under "bad") failed to get an out in the two batters he faced in the ninth, Logan came on and struck out the next two batters before getting Mark Ellis to pop out to end the inning and keep Oakland from breaking the game open.
This was a classic White Sox offensive performance against a lefty they've never seen before.
This has been a trend for about the last decade; every time the White Sox face a pitcher they've never seen, especially a lefty, they struggle as a group.
Today was no different, as the Sox looked clueless at the plate for most of Smith's start. The White Sox popped out five times in Smith's seven innings of work, not taking what Smith gave and not trying to hit line drives.
Granted, Smith deserves a lot of credit. He had an excellent motion to his changeup and was locating his fastball well—a killer, Johan Santana-like combination.
But that doesn't excuse the Sox's offense today, as they certainly had their pitches to hit. A better approach of taking the ball up the middle and the other way would have yielded more results.
It looked like the offense was going to put a rally together against Oakland's bullpen, but a complete inability to lay off Huston Street's slider by Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, and Crede ultimately was what did the Sox in.
Hopefully this lineup will take a better approach tomorrow against Dana Eveland, another pitcher this team has never faced.
It's no secret that Thome's in a slump—but it becomes magnified every time he's in the lineup against a lefty.
Ever since his two home runs off C.C. Sabathia two weeks ago on Opening Day, Thome has been nearly an automatic out against lefties. He looked lost against Smith and even worse against Alan Embree in the eighth.
At this point, Ozzie Guillen needs to consider getting Thome out of the lineup against lefties. Maybe put Dye in the DH spot, shift Quentin over to right, Swisher to left, and put Brian Anderson or Alexei Ramirez in center?
Just anything to get Thome out of the lineup against lefties.
Can the Sox just send him down in favor of Ehren Wassermann already?
MacDougal finally pitched in a pressure situation—with the Sox down one in the top of the ninth—and promptly fell behind the two hitters he faced, 2-0. He gave up an infield single to Kurt Suzuki and then walked Chris Denorfia before being taken out of the game.
MacDougal isn't throwing the upper-90's fastball he sported back when he first came to the Sox in 2006, and hitters have come to realize that he cannot throw his curveball for a strike.
In a mop-up role I have no issues with MacDougal. But if he's going to be used in pressure situations it better be for AAA Charlotte.
So far this season I've been very happy with Uribe's defense but disappointed with his offense.
The job he's done defensively at second base working with Cabrera has been nothing short of stellar, but at the plate he's hitting worse than the typical Uribe. He's swinging and missing a whole lot, popping out way too much, and not hitting the ball hard in general.
As long as he's hitting ninth and playing his defense though, I'm not going to be completely infuriated by his performance.
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