They even went so far as to win both series of the week, taking 3 out of 4 from the last-place Orioles, then recovering from another Chen-demolition to take 2 out of 3 from the last-place Royals. The Sox even breached the 5-run barrier on four separate occasions.
Regulars missed time (Dunn, Pierzynski), but backups proved more than capable (Lillibridge, Flowers). Rookies supplied surprising production (Stewart, Morel), and the .500 plateau was reached once again.
Yup, there was nothing wrong with this week of White Sox baseball. Nothing that can be helped, that is.
If there's an issue, it's that this great stretch vaulted the Sox only 1.5 games in the division standings with 42 to go. Or that they just reached .500 now, in the middle of August. Slow and steady may yet win the race, but unless the Twins collapse, that's the last week-long stretch against cellar-dwellers the White Sox are going to be handed. They were offered a chance to clean up, and brought back adequate returns. Time will tell if extraordinary ones were needed instead.
On one leg
Paul Konerko took one of Andrew Miller's many misguided fastballs off of the knee, missed the first three games of the Yankee massacre, and since his return has hobbled helplessly around the bases as if he were an elderly man chased out of his house by a pack of dogs.
While I'd hate to see his Ultimate Baserunning score over this stretch, Konerko has hit .375/.490/.600 in 49 PAs since returning, and you can imagine that slugging percentage would be a little bit higher if he was healthy or allowed to play with a Segway.
I can't imagine it's lost on anyone how important Konerko has been to the flagging White Sox offense this year, and face-rubbing toward those who questioned bringing back Konerko would be unwarranted given that the real risk of his contract does not lie here, but man, his late career renaissance has really saved the White Sox failures to develop above-average offensive contributors from looking a lot worse. Speaking of which...
Tyler Flowers hasn't been blown away by the league yet
Flowers' call-up after Ramon Castro broke his hand didn't register as a big opportunity, as he'd probably have to be satisfied with playing once a week. Even A.J. Pierzynski getting hit in the wrist with a pitch on Friday doesn't register as a real great chance, as he'll only get a few extra starts thrown his way.
Yet so far, Tyler has 23 plate appearances, which is nothing, but he currently clings to a .841 OPS and has only struck out in 21.7% of the time. He also drove out a home run to dead center, and has thrown out a quarter of basestealers.
All he's accomplished is to not be immediately exposed as a fraud by the league, which is a lot farther than many have gone, and he's even flashed an asset while doing so. A.J. Pierzynski has a shot to post his best offensive year as a White Sox in 2011, so Flowers' chances of earning a job seem nil. Still, it'd be nice if both were good and one could become a trade asset because Good God the White Sox have holes.
Buehrle is an unlikely ace again
First, Buehrle was an ace because he pitched during a miserable period for White Sox hurlers. Next, he actually peaked in 2005. Then he was paid like an ace and everyone held it against his actual Buehrlian performance. And now he sports the best ERA on the staff because Peavy's been hurt, Danks spent the first two months of the season in Hell, Gavin Floyd might be inconsistent for the rest of his life, and Phil Humber is someone who was cut by the Royals after all.
The peripherals aren't there to back up Buehrle this season, but it's hard to question 18-straight starts allowing under 3 runs. He went 8 innings against Baltimore on Thursday, striking out 6 and walking none.
It might have been his worst start in a month.
Humber or Stewart?
It would seem that the unlikely 6-man rotation situation has boiled down to an unlikely battle for the final rotation spot between Phil Humber and Zach Stewart. I've already said my piece on the likely winner, with the major factors seem to be that Humber has a more established track record (Yes, Humber wins the track record war with someone for the first time ever!), and Stewart has recent success on his side.
They both have another scheduled start (for some reason), so as long as Humber doesn't crash into the lake or Stewart regresses into the remote vicinity of his peripherals, no veterans will be disrespected.
I just checked the schedule and saw that Stewart is being thrown against Texas. Sink or swim, Zach! Keep those curls above water!
An offday! A precious offday!
The White Sox have a chance to jump to 2nd place should they sweep the Indians. Cleveland recently became the only AL Central squad with a positive run differential, so maybe they're better than everyone.
The weekend brings in the Texas Rangers, who have recently taken to killing and eating their opponents. Having an extra series against these guys has really been a drag.
All these games take place at U.S. Cellular Field. I wouldn't have thought so having been there many times, but according to the Sox home record, USCF may just be worst place in the world.
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Baltimore Orioles, baseball, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Kansas City Royals, Mark Buehrle, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, phil humber, Texas Rangers, Tyler Flowers, White Sox, zach stewart