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White Sox Wed May 26 2010

Sox Beat Tribe 5-4: Sox Win Two Series In A Row

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If you've read any news about the White Sox today, you've probably already read that Umpire Joe West, who has a history with Ozzie Guillen, threw out Mark Buehrle and then Ozzie after West called a balk on Buehrle that plainly didn't happen. It was bad call, not much more to say. Watch it here. But out of that bad call came something wonderful: solid relief by Tony Pena and Matt Thornton. Hell, even Randy Williams's performance (right after Buehrle left the mound) was good...for Williams. The Sox came away with a win after a truly unnecessary ninth inning in which Bobby Jenks let in three runs and loaded the bases. Twice. The Sox barely squeeked away a run ahead.

A few things about Jenks. First, let's remember that, especially today but generally, the Sox don't have many other pitchers who can regularly come in and pitch a ninth inning phenomenally on a short notice. Yes there's Thornton but Thornton has been feeling soreness in his arm that if unchecked could have resulted in Thornton on the disabled list. Nobody wants that. He may not be as big a name as Buehrle or Konerko, but Matt Thornton is a great pitcher and a fan favorite. Lord knows the last thing the Sox need right now is injured players --especially good ones.

Sure there's Sergio Santos but the reason he didn't take the mound today is probably because he's not quite ready to be the closer yet. This isn't a ridiculous judgment on Ozzie's part. Clearly Santos is on his way to becoming the closer, but he needs to get used to the duties of a closer: little notice and consistent pitching many times a week. The rest of the Sox pitching staff isn't closer material.

Still, why didn't Ozzie take Jenks out after the first few runs came in? Nobody knows for sure except Ozzie but I bet he still has some faith in Jenks and if the Sox are going to trade Jenks before the upcoming deadline, Jenks has to look as enticing as possible. That was the gamble Ozzie took today. Risk reminding everyone that Jenks is past his prime or show other teams that the once all-star closer still has some fight in him.

Speaking of pitchers, let's talk Peavy a second. Peavy remains my favorite pitcher despite a habit of being either very hot or ice cold. Peavy's last game was a disappointment, no doubt about that. He let in 6 runs in just as many innings. His postgame explanation was exactly right: even the best pitchers have off days which is what he had. Let's just chillout on the Peavy disappointment shall we? He's been improving quite a bit, after all.

If you're looking for something to really celebrate, note that today's win means the Sox have won two series in a row and plenty of players are batting and fielding really well. The team is no longer relying on Alex Rios and Paul Konerko for everything offensive. Omar Vizquel dominated in game one of the recent Cleveland series (W, 7-2), Alexei Ramirez is driving in runs and making some great fielding plays. A.J. Pierzynski wants to be a homerun hitter and Andruw Jones pretty much is. Even Mark Kotsay (who had a homerun today) is adding to the Sox's side of the scoreboard. As I predicted, the Sox have improved and continue to do so.

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On a more sobering note, the next series against the Tampa Bay Rays won't be a cakewalk. The Rays have been making a good run at the Eastern AL division lead and with players like Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and John Jaso they could push the Yankees and Red Sox aside and maybe win the World Series. Oh yeah, they have great starting and relief pitching too. Lookout for David Price, Matt Garza and James Shields, all excellent pitchers. The four-game series starts tomorrow with Gavin Floyd against Jeff Neimann whose 2.54 ERA speaks for itself. I'm especially looking forward to Saturday's game with Peavy pitching against Shields. If Peavy is hot that day it could be one hell of a game to watch. My money is on the Rays winning the series 3-1 but if the Sox win or even split the series it'll show the Sox still have a shot at something.

 
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