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White Sox Tue Jun 22 2010

White Sox Continue to Roll, Beat First Competent Team In Weeks


June is a great month for American League teams -- especially struggling teams like the Chicago White Sox. Not only is the weather finally baseball-ready and the hitters are well warmed up, but A.L. teams are treated to the relaxing three week vacation that is interleague play. Against the National League, the Sox have improved just about every statistic and number.

Over the last twelve games prior to Tuesday night, it was the White Sox rotation that freed them of a losing record. The robust and dominant pitching staff all but shut down the last four teams the Sox faced. Last night against the Atlanta Braves though, it was the offense that put them on the list of winning teams -- a list they have not been on since Opening Day. To the surprise of many, many people, the Southsiders' offense came alive against a team with one of the best collective earned run averages in the Majors.

Pitcher Tommy Hanson came into the game with a 3.38 ERA. He left four innings later with a heavy 4.17. Lacking command and movement on his fastballs, he was eaten alive by a Sox team that batted around the order in nearly two different innings. The first rally was started in the 2nd inning by a single from Paul Konerko. The order kept piling on contributions with a hit from Carlos Quentin, a runner advancing ground out from Mark Kotsay, a two RBI single from A.J. Pierzynski, and a single from Alexei Ramirez. After Pierre took one for the team, everyone's favorite abuelo Omar Vizquel cracked a single up the middle and two very fleet footed base runners crossed the plate giving the Good Guys five runs in the second.

They tacked on another well manufactured run in the 3rd as Ramirez drove in Pierzynski. If you came to the game for rallies though, you were treated to another in the 4th. Alex Rios kicked things off with a two out single that would have been a routine out had the ball not gotten swallowed by third baseman Brooks Conrad's jersey. Another single from Konerko was followed up by a crushing home run by the suddenly clutch Quentin. That was all the great Bobby Cox could handle though and it was "Na-Na-Na-Na Hey, Hey, Hey Good Bye"  for Hanson. Reliever Jesse Chavez did a notable job shutting down the Sox for the rest of the night.

The only sign of trouble for the starter came in the first two innings, as Danks allowed a solo shot behind the Sox bullpen to Martin Prado in the 1st and a two RBI Double to Conrad in the 2nd. After that is was smooth sailing for Danks who finished the night after 7 innings with six hits, three runs and three strikeouts. Carlos Pena gave up a run in the 8th.

Then, as if to prove even the best games can still bring ire to the fans, Scott Linebrink was allowed to pitch in the 9th. After giving up a solo home run to Brian McCann, Infante reached on injury-based throwing error by Ramirez, clearly caused by the cloud of failure that is perpetually emanating from Linebrink. Alexei was taken out of the game with an injured finger. No word yet on how severe that is.

Another RBI from Conrad made clearer than last night's sky that Scott Linebrink is a worse reliever than even Kyle Farnsworth, and Bobby Jenks was forced to work on what could have been a day off.  Thankfully one pitch was all he needed and the ballgame was over. Sox won 9-6.

The best news of the game of course, is not just that the offense grabbed a lot of runs or even that these runs were expertly manufactured by a team with gumption and an eagerness to win. Nor is the best news the winning record or moving ahead in the standings. No, the reason Sox fans can start showing up to The Cell thumping their chests is that their team won their seventh game in a row and they did against an excellent team. The Atlanta Braves are in first place in a very cutthroat division. Three of the N.L. East teams are well over .500. including current N.L. champs, the Phillies. The Braves have a lot of fire power in their lineup with Prado, Troy Glaus and Omar Infante.  As previously mentioned, they had a strong team ERA of 3.71.  Yet last night, they were beaten expertly (sans Linebrink's "contribution") by the Chicago White Sox. Apparently the Sox can beat good teams too.

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