(We're going to try to make these weekend chunks of information, and WSO in general, more split up and easier to digest. So expect the weekly recaps to be more team-centered, and rather than splitting off about random storylines, those will now get their own posts)
It's amazing how a distracting bit of weekend entertainment can drown out the misdeeds of earlier in the week. It's not surprising that a weekend sweep of the Mariners that included Adam Dunn's first multi-HR game with the White Sox, Phil Humber throwing a perfect game, and vaulted the Sox to a 9-6 record and a half-game out of 1st overshadowed the events of the Baltimore series.
It'd be more surprising if anyone remembered the Baltimore series at all, seeing as the four games averaged just over 12,500 in attendance. Those are levels not seen since early 2005, right before fans started picking up on the idea that the team that year was really, really good.
The combination of cold weather, an irrelevant and non-local opponent, and low expectations is not a great one for a mid-week series. But 30% attendance is bad in any situation, and certainly isn't going to inspire the front office to jump back into free agency.
The Baltimore series saw a horrific blown save to start things off on Monday, where Hector Santiago's problems finding a secondary pitch to rely on came home to roost in the form of two solo home runs. An 8-run outburst on Wednesday night in their lone win of the four game set made the run total for the series (17) seem better than it was. On the other side of the coin, striking out 16 times as a team in the finale against Jason Hammel and company probably made the strikeout problem (41 in four games) appear to be a bit more ghastly than it is.
In both cases, the Sox were opposing a poorly-regarded Orioles' pitching staff in a hitters' ballpark; judgments should err on the side of harshness.
The bats came out against familiar old punching bag, the Seattle Mariners, amassing 18 runs in the weekend sweep. Adam Dunn exploded for a 2-HR, 10 total-base night on Friday to guide Chris Sale to his 2nd win of the season. The Sox put up a 7-spot on Sunday despite losing three runners on the basepaths, and the only mediocre showing of the weekend was propped up by a friggin' perfect game from Philip Humber.
Of the last 22 contests against the Mariners, the Sox have won 19 of them, and swept the last two series at Safeco Field. The recent spate of dominance over Seattle has taken a lot of the bite out of West coast trips that use to habitually derail White Sox seasons.
The Starting Pitching Engine
Overall, the starting pitchers for the week threw 46.2 innings, while striking out 10.22 batters per nine innings, walking 2.82 batters per nine, and posting a 3.28 ERA. That's a strange mixture of hyper-dominant outings from Humber and Peavy, shakiness from mainstays Floyd and Danks, and Chris Sale's raw mixture of command problems and electric stuff.
It's preferable to have Floyd and Danks struggle out of the gate, because there's a standard performance level that they can be expected to regress to. The Sox starters have made their living with control rather than insane strikeout totals over the years, though perhaps the presence of Sale and a healthy Peavy could push the staff to above-average in that regard. Not to 10 K/9, of course. If the White Sox starters struck out 10 batters per nine innings all season long, they're probably win the World Series.
The road trip ends this week in Oakland, where the A's will offer up the resurgent Bartolo Colon (who threw 38 consecutive strikes in his last time out!), resolute strike-thrower Tom Millone, and are currently slated to have top prospect Jarrod Parker fill in on Wednesday. These are all intriguing options, but the A's can't score. Offensive production ain't like it used to be in '90's, but we're still not at the point where a team averaging around three runs per game isn't terrible. Apparently scoring in Oakland-Alameda County Stadium isn't a problem exclusive to the A's, as they're still 8-9.
The weekend brings a four-game set with Boston, an uber-talented team that's playing terribly, but could snap out of it at any time. Boston will start with recent rotation additions Felix Doubront and Josh Bard, before offering mainstays Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. With the way they're going, the former two might be the better bets.