Now I wasn't raised a Cubs fan, and I'm not unemployed, so I can't say I'm really a fan of games that start at noon on a Wednesday. In fact, I detest them. This game ended so early I couldn't even catch the final inning on my ride home when my job ends at 3pm. Instead I tried to listen to a call-in radio show for about five minutes and failed miserably. Why anyone would want to listen to one analyst fielding calls from guys in their cars all taking their stabs at playing 'guest analyst' with some notes they've scribbled on a napkin that they can't seem to read while driving simultaneously is beyond me.
Aaaanyway, the Sox followed the model that has defined this season so far. One night after their brilliant 5-run fifth inning built entirely on 2-out hits, the Sox scored 2 in the first inning, then seemed to rest on their laurels. They went 0 for the last four innings of the game and didn't record an extra-base hit the entire game. Once again the Sox fell victim to the talents of Twins pitcher Carl Pavano because none of you do-nothing readers kidnapped him like I asked you to.
Now John Danks wasn't excellent Wednesday; he got tagged for a fair amount of hits in the early innings, some of them seeing-eye grounders, two of them doubles by Delmon Young hit hard enough to kill a bird from 300 feet away. While he was rarely overpowering or dominant (only three strikeouts), Danks settled down in later innings, and 3 runs in 7 innings still qualifies as a quality start.....easily. This game is either 2nd or tied with his 5 inning, 2-run performance against the Yankees as John Danks' worst start of the year, and you still could say that the Sox should have won this game if the offense was worth the polyester their uniforms were made with.
The Sox have always struggled and/or blatantly failed to hit Carl Pavano, which is a little annoying considering his career reputation is that of someone who has massively under-achieved given all the talent he has. Countless injuries have derailed his career for years at a time, and he's generally considered to be the premier example of the Yankees wasting money this decade. Maybe the whole 'lots of potential, disappointing output' dynamic that he has is what attracted Alyssa Milano to marry him.
Pavano didn't blow the Sox away today, and was clearly rattled by the wackiness of the first inning where the normally surgical Joe Mauer allowed Juan Pierre to score with a throwing error to first. Yet Pavano still threw a preposterous 70 out of 96 pitches for strikes. So I guess that whole working the count phenomenon of last night was just that.
It's hard to pick out elements of a game that I didn't really see, where nothing happened. Pierre continued to stay hot Wednesday, collecting two more hits (none of them doubles) and raising his average up to .252. The 1st inning was a fine example of what the Sox can accomplish with Pierre on base and utilizing his speed. Additionally, I really liked combining the speed of Rios and Pierre at the top of the order. Both have been excellent base-stealing threats so far this season, and I can't see any downside to making pitchers have to think about both of them simultaneously. Then again, maybe Pierre's only been successful stealing bases because catchers are afraid to throw next to Andruw Jones' massive swing; that guy needs to shorten things up...a lot. That said, Mark Kotsay is hitting .133 still, and Andruw (big swing and all) is second on the team in home runs. Once Jones gets back from his stiff neck injury, he needs to play every day.
Why on Earth are all our players getting stiff necks? Konerko, now Jones? Is the TV in the clubhouse 20 feet in the air? Are the shower heads only five feet tall? Is Ozzie strangling people? What's going on? Is Reinsdorf paying everyone so little that the guys are out on the streets performing...er...lewd acts in return for financial compensation, in a manner that strains their necks?
Why is it striking our best hitters? Is Alex Rios next? He probably isn't, because after he had an awful-looking strikeout last night that I thought could be the beginning of a bad string for Alex, he went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts on Wednesday. Like Beckham, Rios justifies his presence even if he were to stop hitting with excellent defense and speed. Carlos Quentin on the other hand, has no excuse. This is a guy who was without a doubt, going to win the AL MVP in 2008 going into September, and now we can't justify him getting playing time.
Naturally, there's only one thing we can blame this on; Carlos' wife. Carlos played 130 games in the 2008 season, hit .288 with a .394 OBP, and a .571 Slugging Percentage with 36 HR, 100 RBI, and 26 doubles. Quentin was married to Jeane Goff on November 28, 2008. Since then he has played an equal 130 games, hit .225, with a .322 OBP, and a .439 Slugging Percentage with 25 HR, 76 RBI, and 22 doubles. This would seem like paranoid ranting if it wasn't for that horrifying Sun-Times article from this Spring that described how Carlos had 'loosened up', was no longer compulsively practicing his swing at every opportunity, and was instead socializing and talking to teammates.
Can't you see what's happening here?!?!?!? He's 'calmed down'? He's no longer singularly obsessed with baseball? He's happier and friendlier???.....SHE'S RUINED HIM! We lost the gruff, ball-whacking knucklehead that could have carried us all the way. Now he's gone, awash in a tide of marital bliss and domesticity.
Anyone who followed the '05 team remembers them fondly as a tempestuous collection of drunks who couldn't be trusted to give coherent interviews and tore apart New York piano bars. Now this club smiles at everyone and produces stories like this.
You've been warned.