The Chicago White Sox's Upcoming 10-Game Roadtrip

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The Chicago White Sox's Upcoming 10-Game Roadtrip

To start things off, I'd like to send my thoughts and prayers to Texas and anyone else that is affected by the Hurricane and the heavy rain that stretches across the county.

As I sit here on the porch and watch the rain fall onto the already flooded ground, I begin to think about how the White Sox lead has fallen, just like the rain is falling in front of me. 

We’re in a weekend where Friday night’s Sox game was postponed to Saturday for a straight doubleheader (which is unfair to the people who bought tickets to the Friday game—subject for a later time), and then on Saturday they had those games postponed to Sunday and one to a later date, and the lead in the division fell to a tie. 

Sunday could lead to a swing in division momentum. If the White Sox can't—at the very least—split the series, the panic button should be pushed. If they get swept in the games tomorrow, that will give the Twins a chance to push the lead up to one-and-a-half games, and if they can avoid the brooms on Sunday, the White Sox have at least the chance to stay tied with the Twins atop the Central.

The absolute best-case scenario for the Chi Sox is to sweep the doubleheader and have the Twins lose their rubber game in Baltimore. The Sox could then end up with a one-and-a-half game lead in the division.

As a White Sox fan, I am obviously wishing for the later of the scenarios, but I would be happy with at least being in the lead by ourselves. As the Sox come off two extra days of rest, they should get to the park tomorrow just worried about taking things into their own hands and taking care of business. 

Unfortunately for the White Sox, they leave the windy city for games in three of the toughest places for them to play in. The Sox have not exactly called New York City their second home.

As the first series of a brutal 10-game road trip, at the worst time of the year for the Sox, they head to the Big Apple. We’ll just go back over the last four seasons that the White Sox have played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Sox are 5-13 over that time span, according to Chicagowhitesox.com. That’s a winning percentage of 28, over the last four seasons, which is not very good. The White Sox have four games with them, coming up Monday through Thursday, which are going to be huge for the Central Division.

As of Sunday morning, the White Sox are sending Buehrle to the mound for game one of the series. The biggest question that should be on the minds of White Sox fans right now should be (and I note that I am a HUGE Mark Buehrle fan): Which Mark Buehrle will show up for the game?

Is it the Buehrle that gave up seven earned runs in one-and-two-thirds innings in Cleveland, the Buehrle that has given up more than four runs four times in the last 10 games? Could the Buehrle of 2005 make an appearance and be the ace of the staff that he is?

Do remember that his last two starts have resulted in less one run in 13.1 innings, which were against the L.A. Angels and the Toronto Blue Jays (which the Blues Jays are one of, if not the hottest team in baseball).

If Buehrle expects to go into Monday night’s start and expect to come out on top, he’s going to need to establish the cutter on the right-handed batters, making them jam themselves. He’ll also need to establish his fastball early, in order to make his change-up effective.

With batters like Alex Rodriguez, Buehrle will need to keep the ball low or jam them inside to force them to hit the ball on the ground, since he isn’t going to blaze a fastball by the Yankee hitters.  

Another key for Buehrle is that the defense must limit their errors. It is important to keep the Yankees to as close to the minimum number of batters faced as possible. If a team allows the Yankees to get on base via the walk or errors, the veteran squad of the Yankees will turn mistakes into runs very quickly.

Just look at Mark’s last start at Yankee Stadium. According to ESPN.com, Buehrle pitched three innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits. A result like that this year could really hurt the moral of the White Sox and make things around the clubhouse tenser than they already are.

It is very important for the Sox to get a good start in the series, and I believe Buehrle can be the guy that hits the gas pedal in game one and gets us rolling, especially against a rookie with one career start. 

In the second game of the series, the White Sox are going to send Gavin Floyd and his 15-7 record out to the rubber. The Yankees are going to throw Andy Pettitte and his .500 record (13-13) out to the hill.

What do we need to see out of Floyd?

Simple, exactly what he’s done all of the 2008 campaign. It’s important for him to establish his breaking ball to the Yankee hitters. He needs to keep the Yankee hitters off-balanced and confused throughout the game.

He'll need a good mix of breaking balls and fastballs, as well as mixing up locations and not leaving the ball over the middle of the plate. Gavin has been excellent all year for the White Sox, and I don’t see much changing in this start.

The only concern I have for Floyd is that he has only three innings pitched at Yankee stadium with a 15 ERA. If he can get over the historic factor that Yankee Stadium is and go out and do what he’s been doing best this season (pitching quality starts), the Sox will be ok. 

Without Konerko and Quentin, will the ChiSox be able to compete with the Yankees?  I think that they will, if a few factors fall into place. 

1. Orlando Cabrera needs to have a high OBP during this series. It’s very important that he becomes a true leadoff hitter, at least for four games. Whether by a hit, walk, or taking a pitch to the body for the team, he needs to be the person that flips the switch to an offense that’s been off and on as of late.

Over the last 10 games, OC has had a two-plus-hit game twice and only one hit in a game seven times. He has, however, had six walks over those 10 games as well, which makes his OBP .383, which is decent for a non-leadoff player.

I was listening to WSCR 670AM on the way home from the rained out ChiSox game Friday, and I heard a caller state that he’d like to see OC get dropped to second and a player like Jerry Owens in the leadoff position.

It’s nice to think you could just plug a player like Owens (with speed and is the type of player who should be leadoff), but unfortunately this isn’t a video game. Jerry Owens is batting a staggering .222 avg this season in the nine games he’s been up.

I’d also like to know I have a veteran at the top of the lineup that knows how to handle any situation that comes up without it putting pressure on him. 

2. Jermaine Dye needs to find his power stroke again. He’s been a big part of our middle of the lineup all season. Dye’s batting .289 over the last 10 games but is holding a .372 OBP, according to Whitesox.com.

Batting third in a lineup that could still produce numbers even without Konerko and Quentin makes Dye the focal point of this team. As longs as my point man, Orlando Cabrera, can get on, and D. Wise can move him into scoring position or improve his scoring position, the Sox will be fine.

Dye is batting an outstanding .429 with runners in scoring position in September. Against the Yankees, the White Sox are going to have to get people on for when Dye comes around in the order. 

3. All that I’m going to say about this topic is we NEED a glimpse of the old Jr. Ok, so I lied. Griffey Jr. is batting .239 in 28 games with the White Sox. It is very important that, with 13 games (possible 14 if we replay the DET game), that Jr. looks in the mirror and finds a reflection of the old school Griffey Jr.

After he was traded to the White Sox, the first thought that I had was of excitement of having the sweetest swing in baseball come to a launching pad like Comiskey Park. If we could have a moment to count the home runs for Jr...That would be one.

For Jr., since moving from the Reds to the black and white of the South Side, he’s totaled one home run and five doubles in 28 games. The biggest thing for Griffey to do is to take the rookie pitcher he’s facing in game one of the NYY series to school.

That is assuming that Griffey Jr. plays Monday against the Yankees. He needs to take advantage of there being a short porch in Yankee Stadium. Same thing also for Jim Thome; use that short porch to your advantage. 

4. As I listened to 670AM WSCR on the way home from the White Sox game Friday night, I was privileged to hear a caller on the station talk about how he wasn’t happy with how Alexei Ramirez turns pivots at second base for double plays and other aspects of his game.

The last time I checked, a double play isn’t guaranteed, and every time I’ve watched Alexei turn a double play (remember, he is not a second baseman by trade) I’ve never seen him take a bad approach to the bag.

He comes across the back of the bag and hops to avoid contact with the sliding runner (exactly like your supposed to do) and makes a strong throw (with the cannon he has) to first. He’s been an excellent second baseman for a team that needed someone to step up and take the position. 

After talking about how Ramirez pivots, he starts talking about how Alexei Ramirez “hot dogs” it out on the field.

My first thoughts were, “Are you even a fan of baseball or at least knowledgeable on the game?” To me, this caller sounded like he needed to be educated about the game of baseball. If I remember right, Alexi has a .979 fielding percentage. That’s not too bad in my book, especially for a guy that has played four different positions this season and isn’t a natural second baseman.

Also, I remember that Ramirez was the one who has made plays that I’ve rarely seen an infielder make with a glove alone. He’s turn double plays—with the strength of his arm—that should not have been turned. Let’s not forget Ramirez is a rookie to the MLB this year, and he does lead the team in batting average—.298.

He’s done a great job of turning things around after his first about month of the season when he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with the bat. Remember, he was a no-name pickup by Kenny Williams that was to sub Orlando Cabrera and Juan Uribe. On Sept. 14, 2008, Alexei Ramirez has a .298 BA, 16 HR, 126 Hits, 64 RBI, and 55 R (according to WhiteSox.com), which is nice for a rookie player.

I believe batting at the bottom of the order has been very beneficial for him, because there’s a little amount of pressure on him. If you look at those numbers, Alexi has an RBI for just about every two hits and just under that in the runs category.

You can ask for better, but I see a Rookie of the Year with those stats, especially if you consider that his first month of the year had him batting .138, with two H in 29 AB.

He began turning it around in the month of May where (having not played seven games and had two or less at-bats four times in the month) he came back with a .295 BA. So, to sit on the other end of a phone and say the Alexei hasn’t performed or is “hot dogging it” is not fair or even a respectable comment. 

This is going to be a rough 15 games in front of us. If we take care of business and go through it, winning series (in NY, at the very least, splitting the series), we should be ok and be in the lead of the division.

The Twins have 13 games left, and they have a series in Tampa Bay for four games and the three-game series against the Sox. Hopefully they’ll go 2-5 or less in those seven games, and the Sox can get a lead out ahead of the Twins and maybe even be ready to clinch after that series.

That would be awesome, as a Sox fan, to have momentum like that going into the playoffs. My personal prediction is that the Sox will go 7-3 in the 10-game roadtrip and will find themselves with a two or three-game lead going into the last weekend of the season. 

Finally, all I need to say is GO SOX! Have a great day! God Bless the people in Texas and anyone affected by the flooding rains. This is done before the Detroit vs. Sox doubleheader.

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