And now we're tied for last place again.
Monday night, the White Sox offense had an about-face, multiple players who had spent the duration of the season hacking for the left-field bleachers shortened their swings, aimed to drive the ball up the middle and through the gap between short and third, and put together a nice 11-hit effort based on making contact, stealing bases, and moving runners across the diamond. Jones drove in two runs with base hits, Rios drove in two runs with a hot grounder through the left-side hole in the infield, and Alexei Ramirez homered (Yes, this goes against the principle I'm arguing, but Alexei gets credit for doing anything right). Then, apparently the entire roster returned to a victorious clubhouse, drank a big swig of their own Kool-aid, and went back to chopping wood at the plate as hard as they dared. This approach was best exemplified by Andruw Jones. A night after driving in two runs with a seeing-eye single and a line drive double, Jones swung big, and swung wildly for an 0-4 night with two strikeouts, stranding three runners.
Moreover, tonight was a night of 'just missed it' fly balls, rather than at-bats focused on moving the runners over. Perhaps this was a by-product of the Sox facing a Luke Hochevar, who more closely resembled the guy who went first overall in the draft four years ago than the guy who gave up nine runs to Tampa last weekend, but stats don't back that up fully.
The Sox had runners in scoring position in five innings tonight, and Hochevar; a ground ball pitcher, had 8 fly balls compared to 5 ground balls, and only struck out three in six innings. He was good, yes, but certainly not dominant. Yet the Sox repeatedly failed to manufacture a run when the team only needed one to tie the game until Gavin Floyd's 7th inning trip to hell.
In related news, Gavin Floyd's night went to hell in the 7th inning. Really, Gavin had kinda been asking for it the whole game. Much like how a man who regularly burns pentagrams into his lawn, reads from the Necronomicon at midnight, and watches re-runs of According to Jim shouldn't be surprised when the Prince of Darkness appears during a run-of-the-mill unholy animal sacrifice, neither should Gavin Floyd be surprised that a four-run inning finally came about when he'd been hanging curveballs up in the zone all night. And really, this was all night. From inning one, Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone identified that the bite and sharp break that Floyd had established with his curveball during his last start had flown away to another place, perhaps down south for the winter following Anna Paquin in Goose-shaped plane.
The Royals clearly identified this too, tagging Floyd for 13 hits...which is a lot. So as painful as it was to watch Scott Podsednik triple home a run and remind us that we got rid of a better, cheaper version of Juan Pierre so that we could have....Juan Pierre, and as painful as it was to see Jose Guillen hit that effectively game-ending two-run HR, it was kinda like a friend finally losing their battle with a malignant brain tumor...and kidney failure...and incephalitis...and, well, there aren't enough medical conditions to compare to everything that Floyd did wrong on the mound tonight. Apparently, Gavin needs to head to some place where he can relax, forget about his troubles, and find a new head-space. A place where he can feel confident and good about himself again. Where could that be?
Scott Podsednik is better than Juan Pierre...by a lot. Even if Juan wasn't having a slump that makes us wonder if his career is over, Scott has more pop in his bat, has a throwing arm rather than a... well...how would you describe Juan's throwing power? For now let's say "bra slingshot". Let's try it out, "Podsednik will come around to score as Juan Pierre bra slingshots the ball at the feet of the cutoff man." I like it.
Better yet, this season Podsednik is drawing a lot more walks (.385 OBP, not too shabby, good lookin'), is on pace for 50 steals and is getting thrown out a lot less than Pierre. He's also on a hot streak to start the year and hitting over .320. Pods would have killed to stay here last year for under $2 million, but we wanted to trade prospects to pay Juan $9 million. Fannnntastic. Pods is 34, and the Royals would probably deal him for prospects in a heartbeat. All we have to do is trade away our future (I know, I know, what future?) to get a half-decent leadoff man to try to single-handedly save a season that's going nowhere anyway. The only hard part will be finding a team dumb enough to take on a huge contract for an over the hill player. Some team with a front office that has the judgment of an 8-year old whose been struck by lightning...twice. You know, The Mets! I'm sure the Amazin's would be overjoyed to add Pierre to Shawn Green, and Gary Matthews Jr. in their long line of "What the F$#% are they doing!!!!?!?!?!?" roster moves. They'd either be overjoyed or it'd just be three weeks before they realized what happened.
Finally, Randy Williams made an appearance tonight. He hit his first batter, only to later pick him off of first.
With two outs he allowed a pretty solid double to Billy Butler before being pulled out after .2 IP. Tony Pena got the final out to leave Williams unscathed. Williams' WHIP, sitting at 2.72 before tonight....will now go up. This is amazing.