Ah, that's more like it. The Sox plated eight runs today, one less than they had in the entire four-game series in Tampa Bay.
Carlos Quentin got the scoring started with a two-run homer to right in the first inning, his 15th of the season. He now has 50 RBI as well.
However, the scoring off of Royals' starter Zack Grienke didn't stop there . In the bottom of the second, Joe Crede laced a one-out single to right, before Alexei Ramirez hit a "double" (I put that in quotations because it was a ground ball up the middle that kicked off the foot of Kansas City shortstop Tony Pena, Jr.). At that point, the Sox had men on second and third with one out—a situation that gave the offense nightmares in Tampa Bay.
Well, the Sox aren't in Florida anymore. Orlando Cabrera bounced a two-run single up the middle against a drawn-in infield, before A.J. Pierzynski hit a towering two-run home run to put the Sox' run total at six through 1.1 innings of play.
Nick Swisher—yes, Nick Swisher—nailed a solo home run in the sixth, and Ramirez laced a solo shot of his own two batters later, to plate the Sox' seventh and eighth runs of the game.
Pierzynski had a marvelous day at the plate, going 3-4 with that two-run homer, but also had two singles and two runs scored. Ramirez went 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored as well, raising his surging batting average to .275. Say what you will, but he was hitting around .150 about three weeks ago.
While Paul Konerko and Jim Thome's struggles continued (Konerko went 0-3 with a walk while Thome went 0-4 with two strikeouts), the rest of the lineup hit more than well enough to cover the slumping sluggers.
Although it wasn't a save situation, Jenks shut the door on this game by holding the Royals scoreless in the top of the ninth inning.
Regardless of the pitcher, it's easy to worry when a closer is brought in to pitch in a non-save situation. However, Jenks came out there and competed like it was a save situation, pitching over a two-out walk to Joey Gathright.
It was his first outing since last Wednesday in Cleveland, so it was also good to see Jenks get some work.
For the second straight start, Floyd did not allow a walk—definitely a good sign for the young righthander.
And, for the second straight start, Floyd did not get a lot of help from his defense, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and four strikeouts in his seven innings of work.
The only earned runs Floyd gave up came in the seventh, when he gave up a long double to Miguel Olivo before Mark Teahen blasted a two-run home run to cut the score to 8-4.
I liked what I saw today from Floyd, though. He attacked the Royals' lineup, and as long as he does that, his walks will stay down and his ERA may continue to hover somewhere in the 3.00s.
Paul Konerko & Jim Thome
Konerko was moved up to the cleanup spot, and Thome to the fifth spot today, but the move failed to spark either hitter for now. Both went hitless in four plate appearances, with Konerko drawing a walk. Thome struck out twice, but did fly out to the warning track in his first at-bat.
Both hitters need to start trying to hit the ball to the opposite field if they want to break out of their slumps. They'll see pitches longer and, hey, probably get some more hits. While they won't hit as many home runs by hitting it the other way, they'll get on base more, strike out less, and help their team. Once they start to feel comfortable in the box, that's when they can start pulling the ball and going for home runs.
Of course, though, there's a reason why my title isn't "hitting coach."
Dotel gave up two hits and a run in the eighth inning, but did a good job minimizing the damage with the Sox leading by four going into the inning.
He doesn't go into the "good" category because he did give up a run, but he certainly wasn't bad.