Delayed Rationalization: Sox win a pitcher's duel straight out of 2010

Delayed Rationalization: Sox win a pitcher's duel straight out of 2010
Joe McEwing hands Youkilis a celebratory vial of Bobby Valentine's flop sweat // Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune

Both WSO recap writers were in attendance at today's game, and Chris Lamberti is defending his dissertation in front of the Stonecutter's Society, so the recap was delayed.

Remember back in 2010 when Gavin Floyd was the best pitcher in baseball for a nearly two-month period?  Remember in early April of that year when an Oscar-winning acting job by A.J. Pierzynski broke up a Ricky Romero perfect game bid in the 8th inning?

Those memories came rushing back as both pitchers rushed through the first five innings of Saturday's affair scoreless.

Gavin's been having trouble spotting his fastball, or keeping it indoors, so he avoided it like the plague.  Floyd turned to his cutter as often as he did his heat, avoided crushable mistakes and generated 11 groundball outs on the day.  In stark contrast to his Sunday start in New York, he was brutally efficient, leaving with two outs in the 8th with his shutout intact and plenty in the tank.

Romero, on the other hand, didn't have the impressive aesthetics to match his results.  He labored through a 27-pitch opening inning that was extended by the overturning of an Alex Rios strikeout, and needed an impatient Dayan Viciedo to help him strand Adam Dunn at 3rd base in the 4th; a frame where he walked Dunn and plunked A.J. in the back.

Nearing 100 pitches in the 6th, Romero yielded a two-run no-doubter to Kevin Youkilis to dead center that landed about ten feet away from yours truly as I hastily tried to safely stash my irish nachos.  It was the only offense of the day

Matt Thornton filled in for Addison Reed to get a four-out save, which was only threatened in the 9th when Jose Bautista was thrown out trying to stretch a Dayan Viciedo misplay into a triple.

White Sox 2, Blue Jays 0

Key Performers

Gavin Floyd - 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 100 pitches - Great to see him breeze through generating weak contact and without nibbling on the edges...well, as much, anyway.

Kevin Youkilis - 1 for 3, HR, BB, 2 RBI - He's probably already earned his keep

Adam Dunn - 1 for 3, BB - It was interesting to see him hit just a simple well-struck single.  Never do it again, Adam.

Matt Thornton - 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K - Huge contribution with Reed unavailable and the rest of the bullpen being feckless, unwashed youth

Turning Point

Youkilis turned around a 91 mph outside fastball and drove it 422 feet to almost dead center to break a scoreless tie in the 6th.  It was the only superlative offense effort of the day, and there were no legitimate threats on either side after it.

Things Would Be Different If...

Jose Bautista was tagged out on a close play at 3rd base in the 9th inning. He looked out, but was certainly infuriated about it enough to convince that it was pretty close.

His judgement, was far less close to being sound.  The Blue Jays were down two runs when Dayan Viciedo lost Bautista's easy fly ball in the sun, the immediacy with which they scored the first run of the game had zero significance on the outcome, especially after he had already reached 2nd base and taken himself out of the threat of a double play.

Mental errors happen, but this was pretty awful timing

Takeaway

Gavin Floyd has now had three quality starts in his last four times out, and four straight starts that weren't unmitigated disasters.  Given the raw terror of his 1st half, that's a performance the level the White Sox will take and run away with the division with.

There hasn't been much gain in the standings, but the Sox have now cut a 6-2 path through three straight difficult series to close out the All-Star break.  It's a shame they'll have to stop playing.

 

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