The White Sox clocked in at 3-3 on the week, and perhaps if a few more of the losses weren't of the "that could have been prevented" variety, it would have been less aggravating. They'd still be three game under .500, regardless, so well...let's just get on with it.
Monday, June 20th vs. CHC: Floyd comes out for the 6th inning, but his
release point doesn't. He looks vulnerable allowing the game-tying HR
to Castro, vulnerable while allowing a single to DeWitt, and still even
more vulnerable allowing a death knell 3-run blast to Carlos Pena. But
asking Ozzie to give up early on his starters is like complaining about
the Titanic's turning radius...they aren't built that way.
Friday, June 24th vs. WSH: In a hyper-frustrating 14-inning epic, Ozzie
notably subs in the last man in his bullpen in a high-leverage situation
without proper cause (and is punished for it), intentionally walks a
listless Jayson Werth to face a potent Roger Bernadina (and is punished
for it), and would have gotten away with it all if Alexei Ramirez
doesn't rush his throw to first in the 14th. Hell if Alexei makes that
throw, maybe I'd still be in USCF at the moment, and the beer would
still be cut off.
Sunday, June 26th vs. WSH: Sox get positively baffled by Livan Hernandez
to the tune of 9 Ks in 6.2 IP, allowing just one run. The last time
Livan Hernandez recorded 9 strikeouts was September 26th....2004. Maybe
this performance couldn't have been prevented, but it was still
The Sox tempered those setbacks by winning three games via flat-out
bullpen heroics. 3.2 shutout innings on Tuesday, 3.2 shutout innings on
Wednesday, and 7.1 shutout innings on Saturday. What's more exciting
than a late-inning key strikeout anyway? Maybe game-winning plays win
automatically, but when it's the end of the 8th, or mid-inning, and
after scoring a key strikeout the pitcher just strides off or turns his
back on the hitter like he can't believe he even wasted his time on that
at-bat, it's a pretty bad-ass moment in time. Sergio has it down pact.
A Donkey in Trouble: I've used this sub-heading before. It's a reference to the tagline of the film Inland Empire,
for which '3 hours of David Lynch doing weird stuff' is an excellent
plot description. As with watching Dunn, it's long, consistently
terrifying and disturbing in unpredictable intervals, and as with Dunn,
there's a search for some kind of meaning, some sort of over-arching
reason for everything that's happened.
That's half the fun of watching Lynch movies for me. Then I read that
for Inland Empire he was just writing pages of the script the day of
shooting, and a search for a coherent theme was in vain. Man, that was a
bummer. Three hours of creepy bunnies and evil clown faces just for
the sake of creepy bunnies and evil clown faces.
But that's the hope with Dunn, that these three months where he's struck
out at a fantastically career-high rate, failed to cover fastballs, and
seen his home run/fly ball rate plummet is just a horrific blip. A
unique slump, removed of any narrative on aging sluggers, hulking
hitters who can't adjust to the next phase of their career.
Dunn posted a ghastly 2-23 week with 14 Ks and only a single walk, and
the offense was just as crippled as a team centered around a non-entity
to be a primary run producer should be. The White Sox are so invested
in the history of what Adam Dunn is that they have little choice but to
play him till the bitter end. Making Mark Teahen the DH, or Brent
Lillibridge, or some collection of bench players improves the White Sox
in the short-term, but we've seen that movie before, and it doesn't end
with the good guys winning the division.
While we're on that topic: The Brent Lillibridge Time of Your Life Tour might be winding to a close.
For the month of June: .229/.339/.375, 17 K in 56 plate appearances.
That split even includes the last game of the Boston series and his
torrid Friday night versus Detroit. His BABIP is still .310, which
underscores the clear problem--he's whiffing like crazy again.
Credit where credit is due: The White Sox offense didn't manage
one exceptional effort all week, straggled their way to 20 runs in 6
games (with 5 extra innings), so if they're not holding back the small but significant help Dayan Viciedo's bat could provide for service time concerns, then they're just doing for the sake of stubborn and archaic ideas about offense.
Hopelessness aside, A.J. Pierzynski has been trending upward, and
deserves recognition. I'm not a fan of the present-day Pierzynski as a
player. He could be more sure-handed at the plate, has little in the
way of a throwing arm, and his plate approach involves putting
everything in play. That means never walking, never getting pitches to
drive for power, and hitting for a high-average...and that's just when
he going right. It's good enough for a catcher we're paying $2 million
because Tyler Flowers ruined all the plans, but like a mediocre pop
band that keeps selling out stadiums, I begin to resent him, when
really I should resent the people who can't see Pierzynski for what he
.358/.394/.522 in June hasn't just been an excellent stretch for A.J,
it's kept the Sox afloat by having one more offensive weapon other than
Konerko (.286/.400/.619 for the week). Paulie will be getting walked
without shame for a while after the swath of destruction he cut through
the Cubs and Diamondbacks, so players like Pierzynski stepping up are as
needed as ever.
Alex Rios is hitting singles: 9-24 on the week (.375) with a double. It's so much better than hitting groundouts.
Moving on without Danks: John Danks is headed to DL with an
oblique injury, while Hector Santiago and his screwball are now in
charge of keeping the bullpen stocked with sunflower seeds and...I
The injury has a good chance to keep Danks out over a month (or not,
there's a lot of room for variance with a muscle strain), but also has a
good chance to go relatively unnoticed if the five remaining legit
starters hold up.
Jake Peavy's ready to do his part, and has already insisted that he
won't need to be pushed back after throwing 55 pitches in relief on
Saturday. Let me be the first to say "Oh boy."
Looking ahead: The White Sox voyage to Colorado to play a team
loaded with talent that seemed poised to breakout coming off an
encouraging 2010 season where they fell short of the division title down
the stretch, but are now scuffling under .500. Some call them the
Rockies, I like to call them The Men in the Mirror.
The weekend brings the denouement of the Cubs-Sox series in Wrigley.
For how heated the contests are, for how close all the games this past
week were, for how much every win still feels like a war, this Cubs team
is pretty bad with a lot of issues. This is like, how do you say...an
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, blake dewitt, Brent Lillibridge, brian bruney, carlos pena, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, david lynch, Dayan Viciedo, Gavin Floyd, hector santiago, Jake Peavy, jayson werth, John Danks, Juan Pierre, livan hernandez, Mark Teahen, Matt Thornton, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, roger bernadina, starlin castro, Washington Nationals, White Sox