Baseball is full of surprises.
A day after Cy Young candidate Chris Sale had a rare bad outing, the White Sox's human yo-yo Dylan Axelrod, who has spent more time going from Charlotte to Chicago this summer than a Delta Airlines pilot, hurled a gem to get the Sox back on track after two straight losses to the "for real" Orioles in an 8-1 victory.
And can the righty who starred at Santa Barbara, CA, High School and Santa Barbara College, was a reliever at University of California-Irvine and was picked by the Padres in the 30th round (the 927th player chosen), even believe he's in the middle of a major league pennant race after all he's gone through.
Perhaps more than anything, the secret to Axelrod's rise to the major leagues has been his persistence. After an undistinguised couple of years in the Padres system, Axelrod wound up with Windy City in the independent Frontier League in 2009. It was there that the Californian found his mojo and his 2.21 ERA and six saves were enough for the Sox to sign him.
After playing at Class A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem in 2009, he started at AA Birmingham in 2010 and then went back to Winston-Salem. The real turnaround began last year when he was named a Southern League All-Star at Birmingham, then promoted to AAA Charlotte and in early September was called to Chicago to replace the injured Tony Pena (remember him?). He recorded his first big league win on September 28 vs. Toronto, going six shutout innings, giving up three hits and six strikeouts.
It's hard to know just where Axelrod is going to fit into the Sox scheme the rest of this year and in the future. With John Danks out for the year and Gavin Floyd iffy, there's no question he'll play a role down the stretch--especially with rosters expanding on September 1.
And based on last night, it could be a bigger role any of us, including Axelrod, ever imagined.
Sox Notes of Note: Any night that Gordon Beckham goes 3 for 4 with three RBIs has to be noted. Just wish it happened more often. The good news is that he has a little more than a month to make things happen..The Sox victory along with the Tigers loss to the Royals extended their A.L. Central lead to three games.