If the White Sox are one of the most disappointing teams of 2011, the Mariners have to be the most surprising team of this season. The M’s came in to this season having lost 100 games 2 of the past 3 years, and started this season 6-13. Unlike the White Sox, the Mariners pulled themselves together. It sure doesn’t hurt to have the reigning Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez anchoring the rotation. Add in phenom Michael Pineda, and the M’s have a good thing going.
The Sox got to see both those guys in back to back days, and beat those 2 guys in back to back days. Now I’m not going to say the Mariners aren’t for real, but the Pale Hose had to beat that team and those guys. The Mariners studs, combined, only went 13.2 innings, giving up 13 hits and 7 earned runs.
The best play of Friday night’s was once again turned in by Brent Lillibrdge, who layed out in the 3rd inning, robbing Brendan Ryan of extra bases. Lillibridge went from an afterthought in April, to a vital cog in June. I saw him do the same thing in March, laying out to rob a player of extra bases.
Paul Konerko is amazing. He misses a few games with an injury, and the only thing he does when he returns is hit .500 with 2 home runs, in 3 games. Aren’t players supposed to slow down at 35? The bombs he hit against Pineda and Hernandez were no cheapies. I’ve read the Konerko is now in the top five in All-Star voting. I know there are players ahead of him playing well, but none are playing as clutch as the Sox 1st baseman. Remember, for the most part, the only other guy that was hitting consistently the first couple months was Carlos Quentin. And lately, Quentin has slowed down. He may not start, but Konerko should be a reserve.
Hello John Danks, welcome to the win column. It only took him 12 starts, and nearly 80 inning to get a win, but he now has his first. Danks has pitched a lot better than his 1-8 record, but a lot of times the breaks didn’t fall his way. He has about 18 starts left, and should win at least 8 of them.
I should go back to Quentin, who batting average has dipped consistently since his hot start, but he still leads the league in extra base hits.
What does Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, AJ Burnett, Wade Davis have in Common? They have all had the privilege of going against Phil Humber, the ace of the staff. That is a joke, but Humber sure is pitching like one. He already went against Hernandez once, but pitched even better the second time they faced each other. Another 7 innings and one run allowed for Humber, who won his career high 5th game. Pretty much every victory after 1 is his career high, but you get the point that Humber wasn’t that good for the first few years of his career.
I’ve mentioned that Humber was the number 3 overall pick of the Mets back in 2004. I wonder what his advice would be to Gerrit Cole, drafted number one by the Pirates yesterday. It’s taken Humber 6 years to find his stride, but so far it looks like he has found it. In 11 starts, Humber has allowed 2 runs or less in 8 of them. One more thing, he has yet to allow double digit hits in any start. I wonder what he, and everyone thought, when he gave up 2 runs to the only batters he’s faced in his first outing.
I guess my only concern about Humber is that he has only face two teams twice–the Mariners being the second. The first, Tampa Bay, got him for one run on April 9th, but 11 days later they touched him for 4 earned runs. Like to see the adjustments other teams make the second time around.
The Sox have finally decided to sit Adam Dunn. I read today a column today that said Dunn stride looks great as do his mechanics. Sounds great, than why can’t he hit the ball? I have had many a player say that pitchers are pitchers, and the leagues don’t matter. Dunn has proven that to be a big lie. After his first 2 months of his AL career, the big man is hitting .176, with 5 home runs, 23 RBI, and a whopping 80 strike outs. Hopefully, a couple days off will get him back to his usual self, but I am losing faith. Don’t I feel dumb for picking him to win the AL home run title.
I did like Ozzie’s take on Dunn’s struggles:”"Freaking guy is 7-2 and 700 pounds,” Guillen said. “Mentally, he’s got a brain bigger than my body. I don’t know what it is. To be honest with you, I don’t know what it is. You’ve got to ask him. I talked to him a couple minutes ago. He’s fine. When I asked, he says he feels good. I say, ‘Oh, that’s not a good answer. If you feel good, then I hope you [don't] feel bad.’ In the meanwhile, I think the lack of confidence is still there. He’s one at-bat [away from] making the fans happy, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Right on the mark, as usual, for the Sox manager.
Sox go for the sweep tomorrow. If they get it, it’ll be their 2nd series sweep in their last 3 after getting none in their prior 18. Gavin Floyd vs. Jason Vargas.