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Thursday, June 13

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White Sox Mon May 27 2013

White Sox Hot Streak Brings Them Back to .500

Sox_200.pngIf you watch White Sox games, then you've surely seen this commercial for Family Sundays at the Cell. It's on every commercial break. Two things stand out: Harold Baines exclaiming "Evidently!" after his character wins the mascot race, and Ron Kittle awkwardly patting his mascot. It's a fun ad, and it's nice to see Baines, Kittle and Carlton Fisk in the beach blanket Sox jerseys again.

Know what else has been fun? White Sox baseball! Some odds and ends on the Sox, who... don't look now... are sitting at .500 after a 9-3 stretch.

• So yeah, how about the 9-3 run? Of course, it helped that they played the Marlins for three games at home. And it's not like they blew them away, because the Sox needed walk-offs to win the first two.

Yet the Sox have been playing well, taking two of three from Minnesota, splitting with the Angels, taking two from Boston and sweeping Miami. Minny and Miami stink, but the Angels are a very talented sub-.500 team, and the Red Sox are near first place. These last 12 games were not a cake walk.

• Collectively, the bullpen has done a fine job in that span, as the Sox had a 7-0 record in games decided by two runs or less. Addison Reed recorded six saves, with no runs and only one hit total. Jesse Crain has also been doing well, with only three baserunners allowed in five innings. The Sox have been in good shape with those guys coming in late.

• The bullpen can't be mentioned without talking about Nate Jones. What's happened to him? Last year, he was the Sox's bullpen MVP for being lights-out essentially all season. In 2013, Jones has a 6.14 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. He's always good to allow a few baserunners get on in each appearance.

He's been doing the same things he was doing last year, throwing the same pitches the same amounts of time in the same locations. His fastball velocity is down a little, from 98 to 97 mph. His strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down. He's been a disappointment so far this year, but there's always the chance he turns it around.

• The bats are alive! Five Sox regulars are hitting over .300 the last two weeks, and Adam Dunn clubbed five homers. Because of that, the Sox are out of last place in team OPS.

• Paul Konerko's season totals are still kind of weak (236/ .297/ .358, with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs), but he has hit over .300 over the last two weeks. So, this is good. But it might be time to worry that he's turning into a singles hitter: He's only hit three extra-base hits (one HR and two doubles) in the last 28 days. He's hitting fewer home runs and striking out more often. Not to count the guy out after being so remarkably consistent for over the last decade, but Paulie just hasn't been Paulie in 2013.

• Hawk Harrelson has had an eventful year so far. He had his greatest/worst moment on Friday, when umpire Angel Hernandez botched a call at first base that would have won the game.

• Chris Sale missed a start this week because of a sore left shoulder. The Sox organization isn't worried about it, but it is alarming to the fans. After all, he just had his best start in his White Sox career. No one wants to see Sale shelved for an extended period, or see the guy pitch with lingering shoulder pain.

With Sale out, John Danks returned on Friday. He went six innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He walked no one but struck out five Marlins, and he threw 76 pitches in total. Obviously, Danks is not all the way back yet. He only hit 90 mph, and some guy named Derek Dietrich took him deep. But he was throwing strikes, and he easily handled a super weak Marlins lineup. It was the perfect time for Danks to return, and he got to face the perfect team.

• The Sox play the Cubs this week for a four-game split series. The first two games are night games at Sox Park on Monday and Tuesday, and the last two games are day games at Wrigley on Wednesday and Thursday. The series isn't quite what it once was (three games at each park for weekend series), but it should still be a fun four days of Chicago baseball.

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