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Baseball Mon May 21 2012

Sox Handily Sweep Cubs

Come get your whoopin', Cubs.

The White Sox went to Wrigley and swept the Cubs fairly easily this weekend, outscoring their North Side counterparts 16-6 while smashing eight home runs. The season's first interleague series was exactly what the Sox needed as they improved to .500 before a six game homestretch against Minnesota and Cleveland.

Too caught up in the NATO protests to watch baseball? Here were some of the highlights and lowlights of the three game set.

Sox fans were a little apprehensive about slugger Adam Dunn having to play left field in the series, due to no DH spot in the National League. What would happen? Would he be like the worst kid on your little league team that cowers as the ball is hit to him? Would he lose all semblance of his Baseball IQ and start taking bad routes to fly balls and throw past the cutoff man? Would he be fine, since he has played left and right field at times throughout his 12-year career?

We never got to see, for an unfortunate reason. In Friday's game, after Paul Konerko was hit in the face by a splitter from Cubs' pitcher Jeff Samardzija, Dunn moved back to first for the remainder of the series in Konerko's absence (Dayan Viciedo played left). So much for that. But, in the one fly ball hit Dunn's way (from the first batter in the first game, no less), Dunn drifted toward a high fly ball off the bat of David DeJesus, thinking it was a home run. It hit off the wall for a double. It might have been a long series for Dunn in the outfield.

As for the Konerko beaning, he suffered a laceration and swelling near his left eye, but Konerko is only day-to-day for the Sox. He hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday.

The pitch from Samardzija didn't appear to be intentional. The pitcher came over to check on Konerko as he lied on the ground after the play, and Samardzija intends to apologize. Yet, despite all this, the next inning Philip Humber intentionally threw behind Cubs' first baseman Bryan LaHair. Personally, I didn't think that was warranted (because Samardzija didn't intentionally throw at Konerko), but I'm sure that many baseball fans feel differently than I do.

And as for Dunn, many a word has been written about his hot play recently. Dunn hit two no-doubter home runs against the Cubs, so I won't say much more than that.

How about those Sox bats? The Southsiders went back-to-back with homers twice, and Tyler Flowers hit a ball to left that reached Waveland Avenue. Viciedo and Gordon Beckham went a combined for eight hits in 24 at-bats, three home runs, and six RBIs. Everyone in the Sox lineup produced; not a dud among them.

Then there was the pitching. After a shaky first inning on Friday, Humber settled down and only allowed one other runs in his 6.1 innings. In Saturday's game, John Danks did not allow a run in his 6.1 innings of work. Danks was in complete command that afternoon, retiring the first 13 batters of the game. And Danks made it look pretty easy. On Sunday, Peavy went 6.1 innings (one out in the seventh must be the best time to take out the starter) and did not allow a run. Not counting Zach Stewart on Saturday, the bullpen did not allow a run. Stewart, given a 7-0 lead, allowed two two-run home runs yet finished the game.

Addison Reed showed why the Sox should stick with him at closer. He pitched two no-frills ninth innings at Wrigley, allowing just two hits (and one was a routine fly ball that Alex Rios lost in the sun). He hit 97 mph with his fastball, and in his toughest at-bat on Friday - facing Reed Johnson with a man on second and two outs - Reed went with four four-seem 95+ mph fastballs to get Johnson down swinging.

Three final thoughts:

1. Major League Baseball is still using its first interleague play logo from 1997. This surprised me for two reasons. One, it kind of reminded me of the Washington Capitals old logo. Two, the logo feels so dated. Totally late-90s design. I thought they would have updated it by now.

2. I'm not a rule book expert, but I want to say you can't push a runner off the bag and tag him for an out. That's essentially what happened on Friday, when David DeJesus was heading into second for a double, and Beckham lunged at him to tag him out. DeJesus beat Beckham to the bag, yet Beckham's momentum (unintentionally) pushed DeJesus off the base. Second base ump Eric Cooper called DeJesus out, and Dale Sveum was ejected after arguing the call. Again, I'm not sure what the book says, but I might have to side with Sveum on this one.

3. The White Sox signed Orlando Hudson this weekend after he was cut by the Padres last week. The Sox intend to play him at third base while they put Brent Morel on the DL.

All I need to know about this signing was my initial reaction when I heard he was cut: "The O-Dog's available?" His stats somewhat tell why he was cut (though he does have five triples this year), but I like Hudson. He's a good clubhouse guy, he's a fan favorite and charitable, and he's just a professional ballplayer. He always works hard and makes plays. I think he'll be a fantastic fit for the Sox, whether he's playing a lot at third or if he gets spot starts there or at second. Good pick up by Kenny Williams.

 
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