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White Sox Mon May 31 2010

A Perfect Ending: White Sox Split Four Game Series Against Tampa Bay


By now we should all know that to be a fan of the 2010 Chicago White Sox means to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected can be very bad, like when a pitcher you thought would have an easy time struggles. And sometimes the unexpected can be very good, like when the White Sox split the four game series against Tampa Bay. Who saw that coming?

In my last post I predicted that the Sox would go 3-1 against Tampa Bay, a team that currently has the best record in Major League Baseball. Instead, the Sox split the series. Oh, they had their sure of tumbles which came, of course, in unexpected ways. John Danks and Gavin Floyd, the two most reliable starting pitchers on the White Sox, each struggled at the mound. Freddy Garcia with his sliders and changeups that never clock at ninety miles per hour or above dominated his game. On the last day of the series, Jake Peavy wasn't at his best but thanks to the White Sox lineup, especially, surprisingly, Jason Nix who hit a grand slam, on Saturday night.

Most of the lineup has improved both in the field and at the plate. Juan Pierre is proving himself one of the best outfielders on the team, making catch after catch after diving catch. Alexei Ramirez has calmed down at bat and has been making some great plays at shortstop. Also, Carlos Quentin can hit homeruns! Who knew?

Sadly, the good news doesn't cover everyone on the team. Gordon Beckham is still barely hitting and made some pretty disastrous plays in game three of the series against Tampa Bay. At this point, there doesn't seem to be much reason to keep him in the majors. Maybe some time in Triple-A Charlotte would help. Paul Konerko appears to have cooled from his homerun hotstreak as rumors of trading him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in the air. Even though Konerko isn't hitting home runs I still don't think a trade would be a good idea. He's a great first baseman, a fan favorite and a decent hitter. Who would play first base as well as Konerko?

The split series revealed that Chicago can play well and beat the really good teams. It also showed that the biggest inconsistencies are with White Sox pitching. Gavin Floyd and John Danks simply didn't have it. For Floyd that was a bit surprising but not completely. These days it's normal for him to let in a few runs. For Danks it was a bit more surprising. He's the White Sox best pitcher right now with a great ERA (under three), he should have been able to handle Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria --the best of Tampa Bay's lineup. Jake Peavy still isn't pitching like we all thought he would. Thankfully, White Sox batters picked up the slack in game four. I also suspect that the Sox would not have won two games if Bobby Jenks wasn't benched because of a foot injury. He's not on the disabled list but he didn't close a game meaning the relieving bullpen and particularly the always dependable Matt Thornton stepped in. That's all for the best if you ask me. Jenks is inconsistent at best and likely would have blown a lead in either of the games the Sox won.

The success of the White Sox sans Jenks likely hasn't gotten past Ozzie who has probably realized that if Jenks continues to blow saves, the Sox are better off without him. It's also becoming clear that this team is stronger in terms of earning runs than playing a defensive game --a strange twist since this 2010 team was supposed to be strongest in defense and starting pitching.

All together, the White Sox performance against Tampa Bay shows the Sox can still go far this year. They can come home fresh from winning against one of the best teams in the league like Tampa Bay. Having followed the team very closely this year I won't pretend that was to be expected.

On a personal note, this will be my last post as the White Sox writer for Tailgate. I have very much enjoyed covering the White Sox and I can think of nobetter time so far this season to finish my duties than after a win against Tampa Bay. It was a pleasant surprise for me indeed.

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