White Sox Defeat Indians 7-2 - Thanks, Justin Masterson!

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Hey Justin!

It was great to see you Monday!  Frankly, the last time that we saw each other, things were a little weird.  You weren't yourself.  It didn't feel right, and I think a lot of people went home feeling upset and wronged, genuinely wronged.  We didn't want to ever go through shame and embarrassment like that again.

But tonight everything was great.  We weren't feeling so great last night, mainly because some guys from Florida attacked us with tire irons and beat us to within an inch of our lives on a Sunday afternoon. A Sunday afternoon, Jason!  Some people have no manners, no hospitality.  But you're different, Justin.  You know how to make a team feel welcome.  You gave almost everyone a hit, even Gordon Beckham!  He's so happy I think he might comb his hair and go outside to see the sun tomorrow.  We all know that Mark Teahen is no RBI man, and is patently unreliable in the clutch, but it was so nice of you to let him feel like a big-time player...if only for one night.  Ooh!  Before I forget!  Omar wanted to tell you that getting two hits, and nearly hitting that home run made him feel ten years younger, you know, like when he was 33.  And Juan said that fly ball to the right field was the hardest he's hit a ball since....well....he kinda trailed off after saying that.  All in all, everyone was really happy, and it was a really great that you let everyone relax by making sure they didn't have to worry about winning the game after the first inning.  I hope you didn't get tired throwing all those pitches.

Can't wait to see you again!,

-The White Sox Observer

P.S.  I thought it was really cute the way you'd let everyone run up a base while you created a distraction by chucking the ball into the back-screen.
 
It seems like a long time since the White Sox received the delightful gift of a young and inexperienced starter completely imploding and giving the game away to them.  And my goodness, did Justin Masterson ever implode.  I've always wondered how a pitcher who is having utterly massive control problems can still find a way to groove pitches right down the middle of the plate....to Mark Teahen of all people!  Yet there Masterson was, consistently getting behind in the count with pitches thrown three feet outside, often past his helpless catcher, out of a delivery that is best described as a "drunken sling".

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I included this picture mostly because it makes Mark Kotsay look like he has a huge gut.

  Masterson's 44 pitch first-inning doomed him to a sub-5 inning start despite the fact that he only allowed one more run after his 4-run first inning.  Even though Masterson only allowed one more run in his 4 inning effort, no one should think that he 'settled down'.  The Sox continually hit the ball very hard, even though it didn't result in a great deal of production.  Masterson nearly suffered the indignity of surrendering home runs to Omar Vizquel and Juan Pierre, two guys who couldn't destroy an origami exhibit with bats made of titanium on most nights.  Credit the White Sox for taking advantage of a struggling a pitcher by allowing him to rack up a high pitch count.  I winced when Mark Teahen took a first pitch fastball right in his wheelhouse to start a first-inning at bat, but when he crushed a 3-2 get-me-over pitch to left-center for a two-RBI double that put the White Sox up 4-0 and really handed them control of the game, there was no denying that his patience paid off.  7 runs is a great offensive output, and perhaps if the Sox chased Masterson by scoring all 7 on him, one could say that they got to him more than they did.  But the two extra runs they scored after he departed the game can be considered a by-product of getting into Cleveland's bullpen so early on.  Additionally, after pitching three innings tonight, Aaron Laffey, Cleveland's first guy out of the bullpen on most nights, will be unavailable tomorrow and possibly Wednesday too.  Laffey is used often against the Sox because of his 3.35 ERA in over 37 innings against us, so it'll be nice to not deal with him for a while.  And his stupid face.

Justin Masterson also helped the Sox get a win despite a ragged performance from John Danks.  After coming out gangbusters and striking out four batters in the first two innings, Johnny seemed well on his way toward rolling through a struggling Cleveland team with relative ease.

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Something tells me the ladies aren't loving the fact that you look like Alf nowadays, John.

  Even after he fell into a jam with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no one out, Danks looked exceedingly impressive finding his way out of the inning by inducing a comebacker from leadoff hitter Trevor Crowe , striking out the best player on the team in Shin-Soo Choo, and getting a flyout from Austin Kearns. But then the 4th inning came, and Danks' game suddenly went to crap.  For a disaster inning, it was pretty mild as Danks allowed three hits, walked one, and allowed two runs, but he absolutely labored to do it.  By the end of the fourth he was over the 90 pitch-mark, had completely lost the ability to spot his changeup, and was covered in his own beard-sweat.  But darnett, Johnny deserved this.  For all the games that Danks has pitched masterfully this year only to watch Carlos Quentin (inactive tonight, and unmissed) swing and miss hard enough to hit himself in the back of the head during a crucial RBI situation, or watch Mark Teahen treat a ground ball like a hot coal hit at him, he deserved to get credit for a win on a night where he wasn't great, but merely better than Justin Masterson.  A lot better.

The defense really wasn't any better tonight, as Mark Teahen and Alexei Ramirez eached committed errors that had the potential to be game-ruiners if the Sox didn't have such a big lead and the Cleveland offense didn't have less punch than an osteoporosis patient.  Teahen booted an easy, inning-ending double play ball in the 5th that created a mini-jam for Danks and took away any chance of him coming back out for the 6th inning.  Ramirez on the other hand, gave the Indians four outs in the 9th by bobbling what should have been the final play of the game.  Neither errors were difficult plays, just two bad fielders with bad hands dropping the ball at fairly bad times.  It was Ramirez's 7th error of the year...yes, that's even worse than last year...yes, it's a concern.  For Teahen, it was his eigth error of the year, dropping his fielding percentage to below 92%, and pulling him into a tie with Alex Gonzalez for most errors committed in the AL.  Leave it to Mark to give us a reminder for why he's terrible during his best game of the season.

Jake Peavy goes tomorrow night against the prize of the Cleveland Indians starting staff, Mitch Talbot.  Mighty Mitch is 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA and a equally respectable 1.33 WHIP.  Talbot was the player to be named later in a trade with Tampa, and let's just say that the list of Hall-of-Famers who were the players to be named later in a trade is rather short.  Better yet, Talbot has only posted one good start in his last four, and it came against Baltimore.  Not to say that wins against Baltimore don't count but....they.....just don't.  However, in Talbot's previous start against the Sox he threw a complete game and only allowed one earned run.  Being optimistic about this game will require a lot more than there not being any Aaron Lackey to worry about.  Or his stupid face.

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