Unless you're neither a fan of the White Sox, nor baseball--in which case this URL was a curious but welcome choice by you--the first two games of this weekend series against Detroit were undeniably exciting.
First, Friday's 8-2 (yes, 8!) victory not only featured another cathartic Adam Dunn hit, it featured the White Sox as a team reeling in a struggling pitcher repeatedly. Better yet, that pitcher was Justin Verlander.
Saturday witnessed a complete game shutout against Edwin Jackson. But it wasn't simply an instance where his slider was working so he looked like a Cy Young for a day. Instead, Jackson played the part of an efficient ground-ball maven. He threw just 101 pitches (70 for strikes), and induced 18 groundballs. It wasn't the most rollicking pitching performance of all-time, but it reeked of a consistent approach and attainable goals. It's newness was intoxicating.
To top it off, Gordon Beckham and Juan Pierre both collected 6 hits over the course of the series, stoking hopes that yet another second-half rally for both players. That's a great sign, especially since it appears the White Sox will play Juan Pierre at leadoff until we're all dead. If he's going to have an above-average OBP while holding down the 1-slot for the next 47 years, that'll make it more palatable.
Then came the Sabbath, and things reverted to dreaded normalcy. The Sox were handed Brad Penny, dead, on a silver platter. They pawed at him for three runs in the 2nd, then his combination of blandly average fastballs, high sinkers, and curveballs eight feet out of the strikezone slowly worked over the Sox, who did nothing as their pitching staff allowed the Tigers to collect the astronomical figure of 4 runs. Was any of the progress real? Was it all lies? Is it just our no-good ex showing up with a new haircut, a bottle of wine, and a handful of empty promises again?...figuratively, I mean.
I can't figure it out
Adam Dunn ripped an RBI single through the shift on Friday, and launched an opposite field double to the wall on Sunday....and struck out 15% more often than he got on base for the series. Every time he drives a ball with authority he follows it up by staring at a fastball down the pipe for strike three the next at-bat. If ever gets right again, it'll take me six weeks to realize it's happened.
Alex Rios looked as useless as possible (0-9) to start the series, then collected 2 hits on Sunday. And yet, both of them were dead pull shots to left field. It seems like it'll be really hard to hit .300 entirely to left field. Especially if teams are smart enough to hire scouts who tell them to never throw Rios anything on the inner portion.
More Teahen in our lives
Mark Teahen got the start at 3rd all three games to start the post-All-Star break stretch, which is...pretty unusual for a backup to do. He hit fairly well (3-10 with a walk but no XBH) and played his unique brand of graceless but effective defense. The information provided from Scott Merkin on the matter did slightly less than declare it an aberration:
"Guillen felt there was no need to talk about the change with rookie Brent Morel, who has not lost his starting job and will be back in the lineup at some point during the upcoming Kansas City series, with the Royals throwing two lefties. Morel took some extra batting practice on Friday and makes sure to be stretched out and ready as a late-inning defensive replacement."
The mention of left-handed starters hints at a platoon, which given the way Teahen hits lefties, is pretty much the best development he could hope for. As long as Mark continues to defend, he's clearly a better bat. It's not a huge upgrade, but the White Sox offense could stand to make a few of these tweaks.
Humber hasn't lost it
It's two straight starts sans pixie dust for Humber, two straight losses where his command has been uncharacteristically spotty, and two straight games where balls have found open spots in the field. Between Brennan Boesch golfing a ball two inches off the ground into the right field bleachers, and Detroit's 3-run 6th inning rally sparking from a double that bounced off of Alexei Ramirez, it's easy to ignore that Humber did positive things like striking out 8 batters, and retiring Miguel Cabrera three times on grounders with a very effective approach.
He's not an All-Star it seems, but there's still no reason to not think he's the 3.50 FIP guy he's been all year.
6 more road games against the AL Central; presumably a death march.
But while the Indians and Royals are a sure bet to give the Sox problems, it's a toss-up between Bruce Chen and Carlos Carrasco as to who's the best starter they'll face all week. Otherwise it's green prospects (Danny Duffy and Jeanmar Gomez) and comically ineffective veterans (Fausto Carmona and Kyle Davies). They've already failed to hit much worse this season, but hopefully that movie's had its last sequel.
Tags: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, brad penny, Brent Morel, bruce chen, carlos carrasco, cleveland indiands, danny duffy, Detroit Tigers, Edwin Jackson, fausto carmona, Gordon Beckham, jeanmar gomez, Juan Pierre, Justin Verlander, Kansas City Royals, kyle davies, Mark Teahen, Ozzie Guillen, philip humber, White Sox