Ten thoughts from here and there as the White Sox aim to win the series from the surprising Oakland A's after last night's 9-7 defeat:
1. Sox manager Robin Ventura and A's skipper Bob Melvin are not only leading their teams to a possible collision course for an American League playoff berth, they also have to be the two favorites for Manager of the Year honors.
2. Ventura had an interesting observation after the Saturday loss. He said we shouldn't be surprised at the A's comeback because they never stop playing hard--just like his Sox.
3. In a recent post before the weekend series, I identified three current Oakland A's as Sox killers--Coco Crisp, Brandon Inge and Grant Balfour. Crisp has been on fire the first two games of this series, Inge drove in the winning run last night and Balfour got credit for the save. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
4. Who is wearing No. 37 and what happened to the Sox pitcher who used to wear that number? Of course, all Sox fans know that No. 37 is Matt Thornton's. The problem is that there is little resemblance between the shutdown setup man of the past and the one we have seen this season and saw last night. Watching him warm up in the pen, I had a feeling last night wasn't going to have a happy ending.
5. While we're on the subject of who is wearing what uniform numbers, how about No. 17? Tyler Flowers did his A.J. Pierzynski imitation last night, enjoying the most productive game of his career. He went 3 for 3, a triple shy of the cycle, and got on base a fourth time after getting hit by a pitch.
6. Paul Konerko's concussion has to be a cause for great concern. Right now, he's on the seven-day DL, but it's anybody's guess when he'll be cleared to return. It'll be a huge blow to the Sox from a baseball perspective if Paulie is out for any length of time, but the important thing is that the life of one of baseball's good guys isn't affected. We all have seen what it's done to Justin Morneau of the Twins.
7. I know that Adam Dunn has made a major turnaround from his 2011 disaster with his league-leading 31 homers along with 75 RBIs, but lately I'm seeing flashes of the '11 Dunn. With Konerko out of the lineup, Dunn has to step it up.
8. What will become of Gordon Beckham? Just a couple of years ago he was about to become he face of the franchise. Now, the Sox have to at least explore making a change at second base as the former University of Georgia star continues to struggle. If it weren't for his stellar defense, it would probably be a no-brainer.
9. I know there's a long way to go and whatever happened in the Tigers-Rangers game last night wouldn't have been a significant blow to the Sox chances. But I feel a lot better knowing that Texas won on a night Justin Verlander started and that the Sox held on to their one-game division lead.
10. The Chris Sale-Bartolo Colon matchup this afternoon will be fun to watch. More fun, of course, if our guy stymies the pesky A's lineup to give the Sox a 5-4 homestand before heading to Toronto and Kansas City.