White Sox 6, Indians 3: the Good, Bad, and Indifferent
With four hits in tonight's ballgame, Cabrera continued to see his batting average rise after bottoming out below .220 a few weeks ago. He's staying on pitches nicely and going with the pitch, not trying to exclusively pull the ball or take it the other way.
That was evident in the twelfth, when Cabrera delivered the game-winning hit off Scott Elarton when he took a fastball on the outer half into right field, bringing home Dewayne Wise to give the Sox the lead.
It's really nice to see Cabrera—who had been mired in a season-long slump—show signs of life here. Maybe it should give Sox fans hope that a guy like Nick Swisher will start to hit at some point.
AJ Pierzynski & Carlos Quentin
Speaking of guys who are hitting, Pierzynski and Quentin combined for five hits and an RBI at the top of the Sox order.
Pierzynski had two hits off Paul Byrd before Eric Wedge removed the Indians' starter in favor of lefty reliever Rafael Perez with Cabrera on second with two outs in the top of the seventh. Playing the percentages failed for Wedge, as Pierzynski worked the count to 3-2 before delivering a game-tying RBI single to center for his third hit of the game.
Quentin laced a couple of sharp singles in his first two at bats to raise his batting average to .304. There's no question that he's the most feared hitter in this lineup. Nobody can honestly say they saw that coming.
Although Dotel got himself into a pickle in the bottom of the eighth, he still was able to hold the Indians scoreless through 1.2 innings of work, striking out three more batters. He now has fanned 34 on the season, tops among AL relievers.
Thornton bailed Dotel out in the eighth by striking Grady Sizemore out with runners on second and third to end the inning. Thornton threw Sizemore four fastballs, with the final one registering in the upper 90s to get the Indians' leadoff hitter looking.
It looked like Sizemore was looking for Thornton's slider from 0-2 on, as the final fastball Thornton threw was right down the middle.
Linebrink retired the Indians in order in the bottom of the ninth to keep his perfect May ERA of 0.00. I feel like a broken record putting him in the good column every time he comes in, but that's a good thing. His ERA is now down to 1.17, and if Hideki Okajima made the All-Star game last year, why not Linebrink this year?
If he keeps this up and doesn't make it, then the answer to that question will be that he doesn't play in New York or Boston.
Logan came in for Nick Masset in the tenth, with the winning run on third and was able to retire Kelly Shoppach—albeit, on a line drive to right—to end the inning. He then retired the Indians in order in the 11th to put himself in line for a victory.
The offense, 12th inning
Unlike the previous 11 innings, the White Sox were really able to deliver when it counted in the 12th, picking up three huge runs that ultimately won them the game.
Nick Swisher led the inning off with a single, and Alexei Ramirez moved him to third on a sharp single to right after squaring to bunt.
Orlando Cabrera brought in Wise, who was pinch running for Swisher, to give the Sox their first run of the inning. Pierzynski was intentionally walked before Quentin delivered an RBI groundout. After that, Jermaine Dye was intentionally walked and Brian Anderson delivered an RBI double to put the Sox up 6-3.
After giving up back-to-back singles to begin the 12th, Jenks got Jhonny Peralta to hit into a double play and Franklin Gutierrez to strike out to nail down the save.
Being an umpire myself, you'll rarely see me criticize an umpire—but today, home-plate umpire Paul Nauert was horribly inconsistent with his strike zone.
There were a lot of good pitches thrown by Javier Vazquez and Paul Byrd that were called balls and a lot of bad pitches that were called strikes. It looked like neither offense really had a good feel of what Nauert was going to call on a pitch-to-pitch basis.
I guess the best way to put it was that Nauert was consistently inconsistent.
Another day went by and Konerko failed to show signs of breaking out of his year-long slump, going hitless in five at bats.
Konerko is playing hurt with a bone bruise in his hand, so I can understand some of his troubles. He took the Angels series off and even had a cortisone shot in that hand to try to ease the pain, but it didn't help him today. If he keeps struggling, maybe the best thing for Konerko would be to take an extended break—e.g. be put on the disabled list—instead of trying to fight through this.
The offense, innings 1-11
I know I've been highlighting specific players, but the overall offensive effort today was not good. Anytime a team gets 13 hits (plus one walk, so 14 baserunners) and only scores three runs, that's not good. The Sox hit into three double plays, had a player get caught stealing, and left seven on base, including four who were in scoring position.
Granted, it's nice to see the lineup starting to string some hits together, but when they can't bring the runs home, it doesn't mean anything. The sad thing is that just one more hit with a man in scoring position likely would have won this game for the White Sox.
Plain and simple, Vazquez didn't have his best stuff today, allowing nine hits and two walks with just two strikeouts over his six innings of work. However, Vazquez battled and only allowed three runs over his outing, keeping the Sox in the game.
No starter has his best stuff every time he takes the mound, but the good ones are able to battle and keep their teams in games when they don't have "it." That's what Vazquez did today—he wasn't good, but he gave the Sox a chance to win the game.
Yes, Thome had a solo home run, single, and an RBI groundout to give him two RBI on the game, but it's hard for me to be excited about Thome until he really start to string some hits together over a week of games. Remember, Thome homered in back-to-back games last week before recording just one hit (an infield single) in the three-game series against the Angels.
Thome's never been a high-average hitter, but his on-base percentage has been over .400 in the last two years. It's currently hovering around .330 right now. His OPS is also barely above .750—a number that is completely unacceptable from a DH of a winning ballclub.
Masset entered the game in the bottom of the tenth and, as the White Sox long reliever, should have been set up to go two, three, four innings if necessary. However, Masset walked Michael Aubrey to lead the inning off before Jhonny Peralta laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Aubrey to second. After a Franklin Gutierrez groundout that moved Aubrey to third, Masset intentionally walked Casey Blake to get to Asdrubal Cabrera's spot.
Guillen then decided to make the call to the bullpen to bring in Boone Logan, a lefty. Masset only ended up going 0.2 innings—not what I wanted out of him, but he didn't end up giving up the game.
I originally had Swisher in my "bad" category, but after seeing his final two at bats, I stuck him here.
In the top of the ninth, Swisher hit a line drive to the wall that was caught by Ben Francisco, only because the Indians were playing a no-doubles outfield. Swisher took a short, quick swing and really hit the ball hard—a great sign for the slumping Swisher.
In the twelfth, Swisher led the inning off with a sharp single to center—on a short, quick swing. It's still too early to say that Swisher is coming out of his slump, but I was very impressed by his last two at bats
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