Now that the ceiling for the White Sox season has been pushed up a notch, there's room for them to stretch out their legs and clean up against an inferior opponent.
In come the Royals for the weekend, sporting an unfavorable record but a skill set not especially well-suited to the White Sox style. The Sox would need to abuse the Royals' much-maligned pitching staff to prosper. Dominating poor lineups is easily done by this crew, but hitting every hanging breaking ball hasn't been a strength.
They could always just start Gavin Floyd.
The would-be story of the rotation strung together his 4th straight quality start, and took a shutout into the 8th before needing a Matt Thornton rescue to preserve it.
White Sox 5, Royals 0
Gavin Floyd - 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB, 116 pitches - Probably had too long of a leash in the 8th, but retired Billy Butler with a knee-bending breaking ball with the bases loaded to cover up the mistake.
Adam Dunn - 2 for 2, HR, 2B, 2 BB - Essentially a perfect game from him. He might just have adjusted to the DH slot after all.
Gordon Beckham - 2 for 4, 2B, R, RBI - The single poked through the infield for an RBI wasn't that impressive, the double off the top of the right-center wall was.
Alejandro De Aza - 2 for 4, R, RBI - He's a leadoff man/delight
Paul Konerko - 0 for 4, 3 K - But had a great scoop in the 9th!
Nursing a 2-0 lead in the 6th, the Sox were threatening to waste Beckham's leadoff double. Alex Rios faced a full count with runners on the corners.
True to his new form, Rios took a fastball on the outer-half and drove it to the wall in right-center for a triple that scored Beckham and Pierzynski. The game's resemblance to a peaceful cruise increased greatly afterward.
Things Would Be Different If...
...Gavin Floyd and A.J. Pierzynski lacked the confidence to throw the slider in any count. In the aforementioned bases-loaded situation in the 8th, Floyd fell behind Butler in the count 2-1.
Sensing Butler was looking to land a big blow and a big cut into the lead, Pierzynski called for three straight cutters out of the zone--including one on a full count and the bases jammed--to induce a swinging strikeout.
A lot of the time it's arrogance that leads to thoughts like "Floyd wouldn't be as good anywhere else", but it's a sincere question how many more catchers would show such brazen confidence in his stuff.
Outstanding work. Outstanding.
Any continuation of Floyd's dominant run is big news for the Sox, as he's one of many mercurial figures they need working on all cylinders to rise above the 80-win fate they were prescribed at the start of the season.
With Sale possibly returning to the rotation tomorrow night, and clear struggles taking place in the heart of the Royals' order, the weekend offers a real opportunity for the Sox to rise above the .500 marker they danced with all of last season.
Team Record: 16-17, 2.5 GB