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Saturday, June 22

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« Hip Hip, Jorge! Cubs Sign Soler Chris Sale Has Limitless Potential This Season »

White Sox Tue Jun 12 2012

Sox Slow Down Some, But Remain in First Place

When we last left the White Sox, they had a 13-1 streak going and had just swept the AL powerhouse Rays. That was on May 31, when they had an off day. Since June began? The Sox are a "meh" 4-5, winning a series versus Seattle and going 1-2 against both the Blue Jays and Astros.

This shouldn't be cause for concern. Chicago is still in first place in the AL Central, currently by a half game over Cleveland. They have a run differential of +35, second-best in the AL. Chris Sale has been spectacular, with back-to-back gems versus the M's and 'Stros. Over the last seven days, Adam Dunn has three home runs, and Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko are all hitting over .350.

There are a few small things to worry about, though. The last nine games have been at home, and Toronto was the best team of the three (currently 31-30). It would have been nice for the Sox to keep rolling and go 6-3 or better over the stretch, but they did not. Little bit of a sour taste, there.

Also, the bullpen, that once appeared to be overachieving, took a step back. In the past week, Hector Santiago (15.43), Nate Jones (11.57) and Zach Stewart (9.53) all have very high ERAs. This is probably more of an ebb-and-flow occurrence of such a long season, and things should smooth out with Jones (who has been great in 2012) and Santiago. Stewart, though, remains a question mark, allowing runs almost every time he enters the game. The Sox will have to consider sending him down to the minors.

The biggest issue is Philip Humber, who has been quite imperfect since his perfect game on April 21. In his nine starts since that game, he has given up at least five runs in five games. His ERA has ballooned to 5.92, and could face a stint in the bullpen.

In other news:

  • Welcome to the show, Jordan Danks! The Sox called up Danks (the younger brother of John Danks) after they put Kosuke Fukudome on the DL. Danks has gotten some spot starts in left field in place of the banged-up Dayan Viciedo, and he looks decent - 3 for 8 at the plate, a few runs scored. But don't be too excited: Danks isn't really a top prospect (in fact, he was left off the 40-man roster before this season), but he is regarded as a fine defensive outfielder.
  • The 2012 MLB Draft was held June 4-6, and the Sox selected a good mix of players - outfield, first base, second base, shortstop, catcher and right-handed pitchers were all high choices for the team. Their first pick, high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins, was so excited he did a backflip (while wearing dress clothes and a Sox jersey).

    Of course, we are many moons away from seeing any of the Sox draft picks in the bigs (if they make it at all), but it seems they made some solid selections. Hawkins joins the glut of other athletic, full-of-potential outfielders in the Sox' system. Reports say First baseman Keon Barnum is Fred McGriff-esque, and righty pitcher Chris Beck has three major league-level pitches (a mid-90s fastball and a slider and changeup).

  • The White Sox have had some big name Cuban ballplayers on the team over the past few years - Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Jose Contreras - but Jorge Soler will not be added to the list. He signed with the Cubs on Monday, and the Sox' interest in the 20-year old corner outfielder goes for naught.

The Sox face the defending champion Cardinals in St. Louis in a three-game set starting tonight, then head out to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in a weekend series. Next week, they come back to Chicago to face the two most local teams - the Cubs and the Brewers - for home series.

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