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Wednesday, October 21

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White Sox Mon May 28 2012

Sox Swing Their Way to Victory

Over the past week, White Sox games have pretty much morphed into slo-pitch softball. With the scores the Sox, Twins and Indians put up over the last six games, can't you picture the players hitting with aluminum bats and the pitchers arcing the ball between 6 and 12 feet?

The ball has really been jumping off the bat at The Cell. After the Sox lost on Tuesday night to Minnesota 9-2, they won by the scores of 6-0, 11-8, 9-3, 14-7 and 12-6. The Sox have scored a whopping 54 runs during their six-game homestretch, including 17 home runs. In fact, the Sox haven't had four straight nine-run games since 1938.

Yet while the offense has been looking good, the pitching has been subpar. The Sox have allowed 33 runs in that span, with four instances of the starter yielding five runs or more. In each game, the winner was able to out-slug the opponent, with offense being key.

My how times have changed! A little over a month ago, the Sox's script was flipped: Pitching was the main reason for the Sox's success. Now, the offense is carrying the team.

The White Sox's hitting has been as efficient and as versatile as one could imagine. The Sox have hit both moonshots and lazy fly balls that just cleared the fence. They have pulled the ball and hit it the opposite way. They have hit crisp, line-drive singles and bloopers that the defense couldn't get to. They have worked the count and swung first pitch. They have been shooting the ball down the line and driving it into the gap.

The Sox score runs in bunches, having 10 three-plus run innings over the last four games. They can go on a rally at any time, and even as I was watching the games I could just feel when a big inning was coming.

Could this be due to finally getting some consistency in the batting order? Before the Cubs series, we only knew that Alejandro De Aza would lead off, and Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko would hit third and clean-up. But now there is a set order that gives the offense some cohesion -- Gordon Beckham bats second, and from fifth to ninth the Sox have Alexis Rios, AJ Pierzynski, Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez and Orlando Hudson.

It all seems to be working. Beckham is really hitting well, and he has some pop in his bat with two home runs this week. Rios and Viciedo are killing the ball, each batting over .350 in the last six games, getting good wood on the ball, and showing their power. Batting last, Hudson has a .381 OBP, getting on base to set up the top of the order.

Of course, Konerko has been great, too. He leads the league in batting at .399, and he really can do it all -- hit for power, hit for average, pull a ball inside, and go opposite way with a ball outside. Don't pencil Josh Hamilton in for the AL MVP just yet. His home run on Sunday came from a wonderful at-bat. Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez kept working him away, and Konerko kept fouling off two-strike pitches. Jimenez left one up over the plate on his eighth pitch, and Konerko blasted it to left center for a three-run shot that gave the Sox a 7-4 lead.

Chicago is riding a nice hot streak, with nine wins in their last 10 games to bring them within a half game of Cleveland in the AL Central. The Sox are heading to Tampa to face the best team they've seen this year in the 29-19 Rays. It will be a really good test for the South Siders.

The Sox just need to put it all together. If they can maintain their recent offensive output and pitch like they did in April, first place here they come.

 
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