What Did I Miss? - Weekend Recap

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I have returned triumphantly from my friend's wedding and a stay at the creepiest bed & breakfast in the history of time (the decor included a LOT of clowns).  Additionally, I have returned from a weekend of no internet service (meaning no blogging), and no cell phone service (irrelevant to nearly all of you, but I will make you know my suffering).  When I left, my last post was disjointed, depressed rambling after watching in person the Sox miserably fail to figure out Ervin Santana in a 5-4 loss where the most entertaining part of the game by far was the brawl that broke out in the right field stands in front of me.  Enormous men punching tiny women aside, the team dropped to a season-high 8 games under .500 that night, and the notion that "The Chicago White Sox are most certainly NOT going to the playoffs this year" became something that could not be refuted even by diehard fans whose popularity and readership depends on the team being interesting.

When I returned from Big Empty Field, Michigan Sunday, the White Sox were already losing 8-0, starting pitcher Freddy Garcia was already out of the game and clipping his toenails in the team clubhouse, and the most interesting thing I witnessed was a fight that almost happened.  But apparently everything that happened in between was different.
Doug Thonus, the writer of the fabolous Chicago Bulls Confidential blog that first alerted me to the existence of ChicagoNow, refuses to analyze games that he hasn't actually seen.  Doug Thonus is a far more scrupulous man than I, for I will delve into all these games I totally didn't watch with gusto.  So what the heck happened while I was drinking Jack Daniels in what may have been the house from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Friday, May 21st, White Sox 8, Marlins 0

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Alexei Ramirez celebrates a home run by doing the Five-Dollar Footlong dance

So to knock off the above .500 Marlins, the Sox relied on 8 shutout innings from Mark Buehrle and home runs from Mark Kotsay and Alexei Ramirez???  I am glad the Sox were able to convince the Marlins to participate in opposite day along with them.  Ricky Nolasco, owner of a 4-2 record and 3.59 ERA coming into the game, was annihilated for 8 runs, his highest total of the season, and later commented that "I didn't get away with any mistakes. Not one."  Uh, did he not try making any of these mistakes to Gordon Beckham?  Gordon went for 0-3 in the game, but I suppose that for this night, none of them came via him staring at a fastball right down the middle for strike three.  Alexei broke out in a big way for 5 RBIs on two extra-base hits, including the two-out three run homer that broke the game wide open.  In his rookie season Alexie showed a real knack for coming up with big hits, and could really provide a spark if he were to come alive as that kind of player again.  It would provide another speed-guy on the basepaths, it would mean that the bottom of the Sox order was no longer a guaranteed 1-2-3 inning, and it would make his defensive miscues a lot easier to take.  It would be very important, it would be extremely important, it would be as important as it is for you to not click this link.  Mark Buehrle followed up five straight losses with his best effort since Opening Day, tossing eight scoreless innings in a game that barely lasted over two hours.  He followed up this vintage outing with this discouraging quote, "This is a game I could see giving up four or five runs like
my last five outings have been. To be honest with you, luck is on my side."  Thanks Mark, I think we're all properly deflated.

Saturday, May 22nd, White Sox 4, Marlins 1

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Something big and unexpected is coming into Bobby Jenks' life

Continuing the theme of awful players coming up golden; Gavin Floyd had his third quality start of the season, while Gordon Beckham scored two runs and stole two bases in a game that was essentially won by Alex Rios and his 3 RBIs. Rios is proving that he's only overpaid in the sense that all baseball players are overpaid, but not in comparison to other players, and certainly not in comparison to Bobby Jenks.  Although, Bobby did manage to pitch a perfect ninth where he threw 10 of 14 pitches for strikes.  Maybe he's coming around, maybe he's pitching with purpose again, maybe if you think I'm actually enthused you've never read this blog before this day. 

Suddenly thrust into important late-game situations, Sergio Santos pitched a scoreless 8th inning Saturday.  I was originally a big proponent of trying out Santos late in games given the terror-induced convulsions that nearly rattle the teeth out of my head that I have every time Randy Williams or Scott Linebrink trots in from the bullpen.  Yet, after observing Santos in a late-game situation the other day, he didn't seem ready for the pressure, or the sophisitication in approach that was required.  But hey, the team is 18-25, it's time to throw some stuff at the wall.  The sticky stuff. 

Gavin Floyd put together his best start of the season and to his credit, Ozzie Guillen did the best job of managing him all season.  Having lost his composure countless times in trouble spots this year, Floyd was yanked by Guillen the first time he got in trouble faster than he would have been if he had tried to expose himself to the 28,000-plus in attendance.  Gavin struck out 7, only walked 2, and helped the Sox strand 9 Marlins' baserunners.  Whatever, he's still in Bobby Jenks territory in terms of reliability.

Sunday, May 23rd, White Sox 0, Marlins 13

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Uh...can Freddy see where he's about to throw this ball?

Having posted three consecutive quality starts and talking all that ying-yang about his shoulder making him feel like the pitcher of old, Freddy went and tricked me into forgetting that he's an empty shell of the pitcher he once was and that I should be grateful for every time a disaster like Sunday doesn't happen.  Freddy also made me forget that time when I was a kid and he was in his prime in Seattle, where I saw him come to U.S. Cellular to duel with Mark Buehrle.  He gave up 7 runs.  Suffice it to say that Freddy just has these type of games because....well....he's had a solid career, but won't be getting his number retired anywhere.

Unfortunately, the White Sox as a team also tend to have games like this.  This is the 4th uber-blowout-destruction they've suffered 43 games into the season.  Good teams in a funk, that can't seem to get things together tend to consistently drop one-run games, fail to execute in the clutch, or struggle to wrap up the tiny details that are needed to win consistently.  Bad teams that are a little overmatched against other clubs, get completely obliterated once every few weeks.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the '05 squad never had four 10-run losses in a two month span.  Or the '06 team, or even the '08 team.  Hell, when is the last time the White Sox had four 10-run losses in a two month span?  (I made a cursory attempt to look this up, but nothing about the Elias Sports Bureau website says 'click here to get information from us for free').

In summary, the White Sox truly challenged whether one loss can undo two wins on Sunday.  This Marlins series proved that while the Sox are capable of playing better, they are still fatally flawed.  They are a boxer who is capable of racking up points on the scorecard, but is also a threat to be knocked unconscious at any moment.  They are a surgeon capable of performing with precision, but who accidentally kills a patient that just came in for tennis elbow once a month.  They are a preposterously frustrating baseball team.

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