The 5-2 record the White Sox managed this past week is right up there with the best performance they’ve managed all season. The weekend triumph against the Cubs was the first three-game sweep since they bested the Mariners on April 20-22nd.
A dominant stretch against the crosstown team covered up a disappointing moment where the Sox blew leads on consecutive nights to the Tigers and Angels, but it nothing takes away from a great week for the offense.
They scored 39 runs in seven games, hit a burly .291/.351/.476, and even bailed out the pitching staff from a poor effort Monday night, after so, so many instances of vice-versa.
That they did this without Paul Konerko for the last two games, playing National League-style ball for the final three, and fielding automatic outs at 3rd base (Morel and Escobar) all week.
In other words, the week’s production is a testament to Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo.
They combined for seven home runs, and went 18-for-53 with seven walks. Dunn provided all of the walks, Viciedo had most of the hits, and it was a pretty viable 3-4 combo while Konerko was injured.
Hot starters Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy were dragged back to Earth this week with a pair of poor outings, not a single starter managed to get through the seventh inning, but all-in-all, things went rather well.
After Danks’ umpteenth trainwreck start on Monday, and Peavy and Floyd’s 6th inning implosions, Ventura finally developed a somewhat quick hook.
He yanked Chris Sale when his command fell apart after 5.1 IP, yanked Philip Humber when a tight situation emerged after 6.1 IP, yanked Danks after 6.1 shutout innings for no discernible reason besides ‘it’s John Danks in 2012 and you shouldn’t push your luck’, and pulled Peavy Sunday after back-to-back batters made hard contact…in a 5-0 game.
Not having a single seven-inning outing is pretty extreme, but if it indicates that Ventura is second-guessing his long leash policy, the final results should be positive.
Speaking of self-correction, the week also witnessed Addison Reed take full hold of the unspoken, de-facto closer role, while Hector Santiago was mostly held out of anything resembling a high-leverage situation. A long-delayed, and necessary reversal.
Nate Jones might’ve been promoted in the mean-time. He pitched in tight situations on three consecutive days, and even saw the 8th inning on Friday. Jones compiled five innings for the week overall, struck out four, and only walked one. Not bad for the 25th man, and further testment to how simple it can be to fill these bullpen roles.
Zach Stewart was the hero in Monday night’s game; he threw three shutout innings, and even struck out Miguel Cabrera as the Sox mounted their comeback. Then, on Saturday night, he entered the 9th inning of a 7-0 game, gave up four runs, including home runs to Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Mather. Good luck figuring that out.
Beyond the basic premise of the season that the defense of the running game is vastly improved, and every position besides Viciedo’s range in left is filled with exemplary production, Adam Dunn’s tenure in the corner this weekend lasted all of three innings, and produced one very curiously played double, but little else.
Konerko’s injury crippled the offense, but put the defense back to regular settings
Orlando Hudson’s addition likely brings a new semi-regular 3rd basemen to a group where defense wasn’t the issue.
The week’s schedule brings more opportunity for easy wins with the first series against the dreadful Minnesota Twins, followed by an all-important weekend series with Cleveland.
The Indians’ probable starters for the three-game set only makes their hot start more confusing. Jeanmar Gomez is a back-end rotational arm at best, Ubaldo Jimenez is still broken, making Derek Lowe probably the most difficult starter the Sox will face this week.
Derek Lowe has struck out 13 batters in 52.2 IP.
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Tags: Adam Dunn, addison reed, alfonso soriano, baseball, Brent Morel, Chicago Cubs, Dayan Viciedo, derek lowe, Detroit Tigers, Eduardo Escobar, Gavin Floyd, hector santiago, Jake Peavy, jeanmar gomez, jeff mather, John Danks, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, miguel cabrera, Minnesota Twins, orlando hudson, Paul Konerko, Seattle Mariners, ubaldo jimenez, White Sox, zach stewart