When your the worst team (by record) in baseball, it takes small steps to get back to where you want to be. It appears the Sox are moving in the right direction. They took 2 of 3 in Seattle, and actually won a series for the first time since early April. They had a great shot to beat King Felix on Friday, but they still took the last 2 games.
Now winning 2 straight, and taking a series may not mean much to you, but the Sox had only won 5 of their past 23, so this is huge. So were the performances of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. Dunn was hitting .149 on Friday. He is up to .165 now. Rios was even better. His average was at .178. it is now at .213. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but they have both been struggling more than most. Rios had a 4 hit game on Saturday, followed by another couple hits on Sunday. Dunn seems to be seeing the ball better, but the results aren’t there.
Could you ask for better pithing performances? Phil Humber, Gavin Floyd & Mark Buehrle; The trio went 23 innings, only giving up 4 earned runs. That is a 1.56 ERA. Other than Matt Thornton giving up the game winner on Friday, the bullpen was on the mark. Sergio Santos and Tony Pena pitched just 3 innings, but it’s good to see the bullpen get its act together. It’s also good to see Pena’s arm come back strong. I know he hasn’t looked good this season, but they are gonna need him as it progresses.
What is it with Sox and fielding bunts? Jack Wilson’s pop up bunt was not fielded by Buehrle or Konerko. It didn’t lead to any runs, but it something the team should be concerned about. Just a week ago, Omar Vizquel failed to cover first on another bunt try. The teams works on those plays over and over and over and over and over and over and over, etc, all spring.
Gordon Beckham turned in a nice defensive play on Friday, running down a ball down the line in right on a pitcher overthrow. At least in these 3 games, the Sox played the type of defense expected of them the whole season.
There are a couple concerns. Carlos Quentin, who turned a Hernandez pitch in to his 7th home run of the season, is struggling. he is hitting only .130 this month. On April 22 Quentin was hitting .320, and was almost carrying the team. Since then, he is batting .203, dropping his average to a season low .264. He still leads the team in doubles, and is second on the team in home runs and RBI’s. Hopefully the day off Sunday will recharge his batteries.
I wish I knew what was wrong with Pierzynski. The Sox catcher is hitting, shockingly, .053, in May. Defensively, he is having trouble throwing out base runners, nabbing only 19 of 22 would be base stealers. A lot of the stolen bases can be blamed on the pitchers, because Ramon Castro, who does have a strong arm, has only thrown out 1 of 10 would be base stealers.
Talking about Castro. Right near the end of the spring I asked him what pitcher he thought would take his game to the next level. His answer was Gavin Floyd. Maybe he knows what he’s talking about. Floyd has had 2 mediocre starts this year, the rest have been above average. He leads the team in wins, and is 2nd among starters in ERA. He is also one of the nicest guys around, so I’m glad he is doing well.
Can I leave without talking about Paul Konerko. The Captain is the one player that the Sox can count on every day. Yes, he had 5 hits on Sunday, but he does more than just get key hits, he keeps the team focused. He is adept at handling the media in good times and bad times, which is quite a skill. I don’t know where the Sox would be without him. Konerko leads the team in hits, home runs, RBI’s and average. The guy who eventually replaces him, will have the weight of Chicago on his shoulders.
I’ll go check out 1 or 2 of the Sox games when they face the Angels next week. I hope I can get out to Wednesday’s game. Jake Peavy is supposed to pitch, and it would be great to see him make his season debut.