I always worry about the Sox in Yankee stadium. Beyond the fact that the Yankees usually field a pretty darn good team or that Chicago's recent record there is terrible, the sudden upgrade in exposure from the peaceful, secluded dwelling that is U.S. Cellular seems like quite the jolt. Even in good years, I fear all their flaws will be exposed, or some crazy scheme that they've been getting away with will all of sudden draw the waves of scrutiny it's always merited. (Ex: "DeWayne Wise? Batting leadoff? Pardon?")
Awful indeed then for the White Sox to stagger into the Bronx on their worst jaunt in recent memory with esteemed placeholder Phil Humber getting the start. The potential for things to continue to be ugly, and be ugly in front of a national audience seemed high.
Instead, the Sox provided their most satisfying win of the year to date by covering their lingering problems with an unexpected superlative performance.
On the road facing as good of--if not the best--offense that the Sox
have faced all season, Humber happened upon a stretch of fantastic
control. He's always had a useful curveball, but when he can throw 23
of 29 for them for strikes, it becomes something he can consistently get
ahead with...which is kind of a necessity given the situation.
Obviously it took more than just a nice curve for Humber to be able to
one-hit the Yankees for 7 innings, as his fastball location was pretty
much perfect, and he managed to use his changeup as a strikeout pitch.
In a park small enough to make Jorge Posada an elite home run hitter, to
say there's an onus on keeping the ball on the ground is putting it
lightly. Humber worked the lower part of the zone at will in inducing
10 groundball outs alongside 5 Ks. A warning track shot by Nick Swisher
was the only ball hit hard on him all night (in play, that is.
Concussions could have been rampant in the stands for some of the
Having five very good starters and no preposterously great ones never
seemed like an issue until the Sox offense started testing the physical
limits of how long you can go without scoring with MLB quality hitters.
The offense did little to slacken the "don't give up any runs at ALL"
standard set upon the pitching staff Monday night, even against A.J.
Burnett, who wasn't necessarily offering up oceans of nuance to the
plate. So for the White Sox to happen upon one of what has to be a
small compliment of dominant efforts that Phil Humber has in store for
his career--at a time like this--feels like the type of good fortune
that's been missing since...I donno...early August?
Beyond a searing hit for Alex Rios, and a line-drive out to the opposite
field for Beckham, there wasn't much to base any "the O is back!"
declarations. As Jim pointed out,
the two White Sox runs each stemmed from misplays that were either
foolish (Granderson's dive that turned a single to a double) or
humorously egregious (Jeter failing to run under a pop-up).
Let it ring from the mountains the splendor that is 2 runs in a game
compared to no runs in 2 games, but Burnett threw plenty of hittable
pitches, and the White Sox typically sent them screaming into the
Barring a dismissal of the real problem, the White Sox were given the
opportunity to exercise a semi-relevant demon by earning a true
high-pressure save situation. With Thornton and Crain having both
worked an inning on Sunday, the discontented fan's dream scenario worked
the last two innings.
Sale gave his best Thornton impression by retiring two batters with 9
pitches, 8 of them fastballs (at least at this rate, when he becomes a
starter and actually has three pitches, the league will play catch-up
for a few months), while Santos tossed a 4-out save and K'd A-Rod on a
wipeout slider for the game-winner. Only A.J. dropping the 3rd strike
sapped from the catharsis of the moment.
It's dangerous to assign too much importance to a regular season game--I
mean, if one of your 162 kids aced a spelling test, how much time could
you really spend celebrating?--but at a time where the Sox have been
struggling in ways that produced plenty of questions about the long-term
viability of the roster, shutting out the Yankees feels like a bigger
mountain climb than it ever really was.
The view up here is fantastic, though.
Some people would make entire posts out of this many links
J.J. provided optimism through history, which is always the thing to do at these times.
Future Sox has some very early impressions of the Minor Leagues. So does larry from SSS. Speaking of SSS, Jim notes that Danks isn't as removed from blame for his inability to gain a win as you'd think, Omar Vizquel is doing pretty well for an old man playing baseball, and U-God breaks down the Yankees roster. AL Central in Focus...uh...'focuses' on Carlos Quentin's early-season output, and Mark Teahen's attempt to get his job back.