White Sox Week In (P)Review: Coming Back, Looking Up

Chris PennantSenior Analyst IJune 30, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 28: Alexei Ramirez #10 of the Chicago White Sox points to the sky after hitting a two-run home run and driving in teammate Scott Podsednik #22 in the 3rd inning against the Chicago Cubs on June 28, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 6-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The slow play.

I won a $20 in a poker tournament with my friends on Sunday night, as the White Sox departed for Cleveland after their win over the Cubs.

I didn't win any big hands. Probably never more than 40 chips at a time. But after a while, it was the final two and I was leading big.

The slow play. It's a killer.

The White Sox got out of the gates as if they were climbing a hill covered in molasses. No one on the pitching staff could get a strike except Mark Buerhle and the bullpen, and they were usually pitching with a five-run deficit.

The offense was inconsistent, to be polite. Sox fans everywhere were wondering if they could compete in time for the trade deadline.

Now, after a win at Cleveland and a 4-2 week, the Sox are back at the .500 mark. And after a Tigers loss late in Oakland, they're only four games back.

The slow play.


What clicked?

There's no carefully guarded secret to the South Siders' success. It's not a trick question, not something unexpected. However, it has come from a few unlikely sources. It's come from people who's names weren't in papers at the beginning of the season.

Scott Podsednik was released by the Rockies after Spring Training, and was probably considering his options outside of baseball. Then, the ChiSox signed him to a minor league contract and brought him up to the big club in May.

The move paid instant dividends. Pods has batted .313 with eight doubles, three homers and 12 stolen bases. That's one more than Alexei Ramirez and Chris Getz, who played a month longer than Podsednik.

Podsednik's greatest contribution to the team?

He ended the search for a dependable lead off hitter. With that spot taken care of, Chris Getz and Dewayne Wise have less pressure and can get opportunities to be dangerous at the bottom of the lineup.


Gavin Floyd and John Danks both had rough starts to the season. In May, Floyd was a dismal 1-3 with a 6.68 ERA. Danks was lights-out early in the season, but faltered in May as well (2-2, 6.32 ERA).

However, both young hurlers seem to have righted the ship. Danks sparkled in his last four starts, allowing no more than three runs in any of them, while recording a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Floyd hasn't just looked good; he's been excellent. On May 17, his ERA reached a season-high of 7.71. Since then, over eight starts, he's allowed nine earned runs in 68.1 innings.

In that span:

  • He hasn't walked more than three batters a game (15 total).
  • He's pitched at least six innings every start.
  • Floyd was 3-0 with a 1.28 ERA in June.

These two guys were key to the Sox' success last season, and they will be this season as well. They must keep up their current level of pitching.


Tunnel vision

I said last week's games were the greatest of the season. If the White Sox came out with a losing record, Kenny would have more impetus to start shopping name players.

However, the Sox played the Dodgers tough and won two of three, and did the same against the Cubs. I believe they were a bad call away from winning five of the six contests, as Hiroki Kuroda handcuffed the Sox on Tuesday night.

Now, I'll say it again: this week is the moment of truth.

With two straight series against the bottom of the division, the White Sox must win these games to keep pace with the Tigers.

Even more at stake is their physical rivalry with Kansas City.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: the Sox must scrap with the Royals—much like the Bulls did with the Pistons. They have to throw a hard shot like a takeout slide, a purpose pitch, even a well-placed glare or some words from the dugout.

If the White Sox want to compete in this division, they must stay focused. Focused on the task at hand. And that is to win, one game at a time. Stick with the leaders and wait for one mistake to climb into first place.

The slow play. It'll get you every time.

As always, let the sock fly on.


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