Instant Rationalization - Rios doesn't remember anything from last night

Instant Rationalization - Rios doesn't remember anything from last night
Alex Rios, trollin' them all // Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday night, there was a massacre.  The Twins offense bludgeoned White Sox pitching to near-historic proportions and dragged a normal major league baseball game into position-player pitching absurdity.

14 hours later there was no evidence of that.  The carnage had been swept and squeegeed away, and where Philip Humber and Jose Quintana had stood before was Jake Peavy, twirling an unremarkable but suitable quality start.

Peavy didn't sparkle, nor did he struggle.   He was not particularly efficient with his pitches (going over 100 in the 6th inning), but he also had three 1-2-3 innings over six frames.  He didn't overpower Twins hitters or miss bats with fury, but there was also at most a handful of hard hit balls.  In other words, it was one of those sleepy afternoon efforts that makes you wonder how runs are ever scored...even though one was.

The White Sox offense wasn't much different--long tracks of silence interrupted by two tape-measure blasts from Alex Rios, each of which sent loud bat cracks reverberating throughout the half-empty getaway day crowd, and each of which came with runners on.

In the 1st inning, Rios punctuated a shaky opening frame for Twins starter P.J. Walters by ripping a shot to left with the bases juiced, right after Paul Konerko popped up a hanging curve and threatened to blow the opportunity.  In the 6th, Rios ended Walters' day by taking him out to dead center, this time with just Konerko on.  The insurance wasn't needed, but it sure was nice to have after last night.

Wait, what happened last night, again?

White Sox 6, Twins 2

Key Performers

Jake Peavy - 6 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 3 K, 107 pitches - Brief wildness overcame him in the 3rd inning, as he plunked Ben Revere to load the bases, allowed a sac fly to Eduardo Escobar, and a lineout to Mauer.  Other than that, the threats stayed minor, and his effort stayed credible.

Alex Rios - 2 for 3, 2 HR, 6 RBI, IBB - Yeah, he was probably the most important player of the game.

Adam Dunn - 1 for 3, BB, R, 2 K - Gettin' on base.

Dewayne Wise - 2 for 5, R - He's been surprisingly capable of making it not-obvious when De Aza has a day off.

Turning Point

After twirling a dominant complete game the last time he faced the Sox, P.J. Walters was wild to a fault in the 1st.  He allowed a leadoff single to Dewayne Wise, and didn't make Adam Dunn nor Kevin Youkilis work nearly as hard to reach base.  A seemingly lost Paul Konerko weakly popped up a hanging curve, and briefly opened the window of opportunity for the Twins to get out of it, before Rios slammed it shut with a grand slam to left.

That provided plenty of breathing room that the Twins would never invade.

Things Would Be Different If...

....not for Rios.  The rest of the White Sox went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, and only managed three hits off P.J. Walters over five innings.  It's amazing how one player going beserk can overshadow a frustrating offensive day.

Takeaway

Some rehabilitation was certainly needed after Tuesday's debacle, and now everything looks evened out on the surface: the Sox took two of three from the Twins like they were obligated to, Jake Peavy is no longer a losing pitcher, and Paul Konerko even hit a double to the opposite field to dissuade notions that he's hopeless.

To power through this month, the White Sox could sorely use another overpowering hot streak from a core veteran, and why not Alex Rios?

 

Team Record: 74-62, 1.5 games up as of posting

 

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