Two baseball teams. Two streaks. Two possible results for each team. The streak would continue or it would not. The Northsiders wanted it to be “not”. The Southsiders wanted it to “continue.” The Northsiders trotted out one of their most reliable pitchers and surrounded him with the best defense they could muster in an attempt to force fate their way. The Southsiders traded away their starting pitcher before the game and were forced to call up some kid named Lucas and pray that he lasted, at least, a couple of innings and hope the team could come back when the relievers came in.
Neither team got exactly what they wanted. For one, that spelled doom. For the other, it spelled ecstasy.
MLB.com’s CARRIE MUSKAT teaches us that doom is spelled e-i-g-h-t-h- -i-n-n-i-n-g.
What a crazy eighth.
The Rockies scored 12 runs on 13 hits in the eighth, stringing together a Major League-record 11 knocks in a row, en route to a 17-2 victory over the Cubs Friday night.
“It’s a fluke thing,” Chicago pitcher Ryan Dempster said. “You can’t do that very often—that’s the reason it’s never been done before.”
Carlos Gonzalez hit his 20th homer off Dempster and added an RBI single and Ian Stewart and Troy Tulowitzki each drove in three runs to spark the Rockies, who led 5-2 going into the eighth.
The last time the Cubs gave up 17 runs was July 3, 1999, at Philadelphia, when the Phillies totaled 21. The last time they gave up 21 hits was that same game. The last time they gave up 12 in one inning was Sept. 24, 1985, against Montreal, top of the fifth, when they also served up a dozen.
Sean Marshall, who had given up one earned run over 14 1/3 innings in July, started the eighth for Chicago. Clint Barmes doubled and pinch-hitter Melvin Mora singled, but Marshall struck out the next two batters and had two strikes on Gonzalez. He singled to drive in Barmes. That was hit No. 1 of the 11 straight, which included a two-run double by Brad Hawpe, a two-run homer by Stewart, and a two-run homer by Dexter Fowler.
In his second at-bat of the inning, Tulowitzki hit his second double, driving in two more, and then Hawpe walked to end the streak.
“Tomorrow, if you brought out [Aramis] Ramirez and [Derrek Lee] and Marlon Byrd and let them throw [batting practice] and put nine fielders out there, I have a tough time thinking they could get 11 straight hits,” Dempster said. “That’s how crazy that is. That’s how really remarkable it is.
“They weren’t hitting pitches down the middle—they were hitting pitches off the ground, they were hitting pitches inside, outside, everywhere,” he said. “You tip your cap to them, but it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to go through stuff like that.”
Marshall gave up five runs on five hits over two-thirds of an inning. Andrew Cashner couldn’t retire any of the six batters he faced, giving up hits to each of them. They all scored. Brian Schlitter was charged with the final three hits of the streak and also walked two before getting Stewart to fly out to center and end the infamous inning.
“Usually in a Little League game you see that, but never in a big league game,” Fowler said. “It’s crazy.”
“That last inning, I’ve never seen an inning like that,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We had two outs and two strikes on the hitter [Gonzalez] and they scored 12 runs. I’ve never seen anything like that.
“I feel bad for my pitchers,” he said. “I feel bad for the young kids trying to get the job done and they get in trouble and don’t have the answers on how to get out of it.”
What now? In his past two outings, Cashner has given up 12 runs on eight hits over 1 1/3 innings.
“I think the easiest thing we can do is for me to come back in and do my work like I always do and [Cashner] sees that and sees that it’s OK,” Dempster said. “You’re going to have tough outings. You just have to go back out there. What’s the worst that can happen? You lose? I’ve done that before.
“Don’t change anything, just keep preparing and doing your job and things will turn,” he said. “[Cashner] has tremendous stuff. It was one of those crazy nights. You have to somehow let it go when you leave here because we have to come back and win a game tomorrow.”
This will be a tough one for Dempster (8-8) to shake off, too. It was the shortest outing of the season for the right-hander, who was charged with five runs on eight hits and five walks over four-plus innings. The last time he didn’t get past the fifth was May 25, 2009, against the Pirates when he gave up six runs over four innings.
“His command was off,” Piniella said.
Dempster said he began the game with an aggressive approach, but then Rockies starter Jeff Francis singled with one out in the third and suddenly he was “unaggressive.” Fowler doubled and both he and Francis scored on Seth Smith’s double. One out later, Dempster walked three straight batters to force in another run and give the Rockies a 3-0 lead.
“I’d rather take the 11 straight hits than go and do that and I mean that,” Dempster said of the walks. “You have to attack guys and go after them, especially in this ballpark. Walks will hurt you. It’s a pretty easy formula—you keep guys off base and you’ll have more success.”
Dempster also served up Gonzalez’s 20th home run, which was the 20th off the Cubs right-hander in 144 2/3 innings. Last year, Dempster served up 22 in 200 innings.
The Cubs collected four hits. Total. That’s how many hits Gonzalez finished with.
“That was a crazy inning,” Marshall said of the eighth. “I don’t think an inning like that will ever happen again.”
All Piniella could do was shake his head in disbelief.
“I’ve never seen that,” he said. “Never seen it.”
Gotta be honest here. I was racking my brain trying to think when the last time I saw something like that. Not being a Cubs’ fan I don’t watch all their games. In fact, it wasn’t until I needed to write about them for here that I paid any attention at all. The only time I could come up with was the Red Sox hanging 12, in one inning, on the Indians in May of 2009. On the plus side, the Cubs are guaranteed a place in the record books since allowing 12 runs in an inning ties a Major League record. And, as Carrie noted above, they now have more than one mention in that category.
It’s good that fans will have these memories.
As Big Star will surely note, the team should look back at this game at the end of the season as the spark that propelled them to the playoffs. Remember that playoff tickets will be limited to four per person once they become available.
On the Southside, the Sox took their 11-0 current streak at home and put it in the hands of 3A pitcher, Lucas Harrell. The kid was nervous, shaky and didn’t have his best control. It’s kind of hard to blame him. He was surrounded by thousands of people wearing neon mullets and forced to rely on A.J. Pierzynski for spiritual advice. You’d be out of sorts too.
As LOUIE HORVATH of MLB.com notes, all this was exactly the way Ozzie planned it. In Ozzie-World, ecstasy is spelled b-e-e-r- -s-h-o-w-e-r.
It seems the White Sox can do no wrong at U.S. Cellular Field, as they got a solid outing from Lucas Harrell in his Major League debut on the way to a 6-1 win over the A’s on Friday—their 12th in a row on the South Side.
Harrell, who began the day with Triple-A Charlotte in Louisville, didn’t know he was going to be pitching in the Major Leagues when he woke up, but the White Sox lost their scheduled starter for Friday’s game when they traded away Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a deal bringing Edwin Jackson to Chicago.
Maybe the jitters didn’t have time to truly set in for Harrell, as he was on a plane Friday morning to Chicago and that same evening turned around and threw six innings of one-run baseball.
“It was definitely good once I got here, because it was kind of a long flight and the time I had between going to the airport and all the anticipation building up, I was excited,” Harrell said.
Harrell flirted with danger early, stranding five runners on base in the first two innings, including pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning.
“He worked some counts well, and we created some opportunities,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “We knew we were going to get some opportunities against him. That’s what happens when you’re not commanding the zone, but we just weren’t able to do much.”
After that, Harrell was able to settle down, despite giving up a run in the fourth inning.
“A.J. [Pierzynski] came out to me and he just said, ‘Be yourself. Do what got you here, use your sinker. Throw the ball over the plate,’” Harrell said. “Get early contact, because that’s the kind of pitcher I am. I just kind of did those things and that got me back in the groove.”
The White Sox offense picked up Harrell and spotted him a lead in the very first inning. Juan Pierre singled, stole second, and then was driven in by Alex Rios’ single to center.
After Harrell gave up his lone run, the White Sox broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth with three runs to give the rookie all the cushion he would need. The rally was highlighted by Dayan Viciedo’s double to deep center that put Pierzynski and Viciedo in scoring position, and then Gordon Beckham’s run-scoring single that brought home the third of the inning’s runs. Pierzynski and Andruw Jones also picked up RBIs in the rally.
“One thing about it, we picked each other up,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We really do. We don’t have to just wait for one guy to do the damage. Right now, we’re clicking and everybody’s doing little things to help. We have one stolen base, and a base hit, we take the lead. All the little things are big for us at the end of the game.”
Harrell left to a standing ovation after getting the Athletics (51-51) to go three up, three down in the sixth on just 12 pitches.
After Sergio Santos pitched a quiet inning in the seventh, lefty Erick Threets ran into trouble to start the eighth. He didn’t record an out, and Guillen pulled him after two consecutive singles on four pitches.
With runners on first and second with no outs, and down 6-1, it looked as if the A’s would have their best chance to mount a comeback.
Tony Pena slammed the door shut with just two pitches. His first pitch to Kevin Kouzmanoff induced a double play, and then his second pitch got Mark Ellis to ground out to end the inning.
“That was a big inning for us, because I didn’t want to use [Matt] Thornton or Bobby [Jenks],” Guillen said. “J.J. Putz was not pitching today, and I think that was great, two pitches and three outs. That’s all we’re looking for.”
With the Twins nipping at the White Sox heels, Harrell coming up in short notice in the middle of a pennant race and managing to get a win is the type of performance that could be remembered at the end of the season.
“It’s a big win because all these games matter so much,” Konerko said. “When you have a day when a guy gets called up and doesn’t even know he is pitching 24 hours ago and you get a win out of it, that’s good.”
Harrell is the first White Sox pitcher to win his Major League debut since Kip Wells in 1999. That did not get him an extended stay in the Majors, however, as he was optioned back down to Triple-A Charlotte about the same time he was being showered by his giddy teammates Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and Beckham.
“It’s not easy to go out there in front of a relatively big crowd and in a playoff race,” Beckham said. “That was a game we needed and the Twins look like they’re going to win again. We have to keep winning. He pitched great. There are a lot of butterflies and I thought he handled it well.”
With the Twins defeating Seattle by a 5-3 margin on Friday, Harrell’s performance kept the South Siders 1 1/2 games ahead in the American League Central. If the White Sox end one of the final games of the regular season with a champagne shower, the White Sox might be well served to think back to Harrell’s beer shower.
Something tells me that this kid’ll back in September. The nice part of his beer shower was when Beckham handed the kid a full frosty after he was soaked. So, as he was talking to Sarah Kustock on Comcast, listening to the cheers of the fans he got to have a nice cold beer. Not a bad day for the kid at all if you ask me.
I started to write this several times. Now seems as good a time as any to get it off my chest.
Friday, July 30, 2010
To: Carlos Zambrano
re: Anger Management
Dear Mr. Zambrano:
More than a decade ago I entered a program for treating anger management. I had gotten to the point in my life where people would say something challenging like “hello” and I would feel an unquenchable desire to turn them into Silly Putty (TM). While I, like you, am a big man, it did occur to me that there was going to come a day when someone bigger, faster, stronger or just plain smarter would come along and end my days.
During my therapy sessions I learned that, according to my therapist’s personal experience and not based on scientific data, the majority of anger management cases were people who contained a deadly combination of narcissism and insecurity. While not sanctioned by the AMA, it nevertheless applied to me.
I, like you, had to write down each time I got angry. When I turned in my first book it looked like War and Peace as envisioned by serial killer. I knew then, before my therapist’s first comment, I was going to be involved in this for a while.
And I was.
One thing I did learn early on is that there is no “end result.” No cure. It is an ongoing process that will last the rest of my life. I will grant that it is one I have willingly embraced. The alternative is unthinkable to me now.
While I no longer attend sessions, I do have a number to call if things get to be too much. I haven’t used that number in years, but it is in my wallet next to my license just in case.
Another thing I learned early on is that people with anger management issues are just like drug addicts in the sense that they will lie or obscure the truth to make reality fit their own ends. It is never your fault. Not ever. Well, not until you grasp the fact that most of it is your fault and the stuff that isn’t shouldn’t have mattered to you anyway.
You have not grasped that fact.
I say this not as a licensed professional, just as someone who has been there and seen that.
Your text message to Derrek Lee (he had to call you to initiate conversation) shows that you are still wildly insecure. You had three options; (A = Best) deal with it like an adult and wait to see him personally; (B = Okay) call him and speak directly to the issue or; (C = Unacceptable) what you did.
As you can now see, your choice was not the best one available.
Your subsequent actions: the interview on ESPN and the, later, clarification interview with Carrie Muskat, show that you still need to be 100% in control of each situation. Since that is impossible in the real world, you will get angry again. Sooner rather than later if I’m any judge.
I tell you all this not to dishearten you, but to remind you that you have a long way to go. A couple of weeks filling in a book is not help, it’s just a good beginning. For it to have any meaningful effect you’ll need to embrace the ideology behind it. Just because you haven’t yet doesn’t mean you can’t.
It is my fondest hope that you will let those trying to help you actually help. Otherwise, you may find the life you will lead as a result to be far less rewarding than the one you want.
Yep. I do feel better.
Anyway, today is the day he faces his team mates in Colorado. Since that will be behind closed doors, I would assume, I guess we’ll have to see how things play out in the days to come.
On the other side of town, we have a team with no anger management issues at all, just a crazy manager who keeps insisting that pitching and defense will win more games than a lumbering slugger from a bygone era. The Sox, on an 18-1 streak at home, seem hell bent on proving their skipper right. SCOTT MERKIN of MLB.com has the story on the latest win.
There’s precious little bad news in the White Sox world right now, with the team extending its home winning streak to 11 games courtesy a 9-5 victory over Seattle on Thursday night.
So, here’s the only bit of rain on the White Sox late-July parade. J.J. Putz, one of the free-agent additions brought in by general manager Ken Williams during the past offseason, had his franchise-record 27 straight scoreless appearances come to an end against the Mariners.
Considering the White Sox (57-44) cruised to the win and sit a season-best 13 games over .500, along with Putz really only focusing on the record when asked about it by the media, it stands as a negligible negative in the overall scheme of things.
Simply put, Ozzie Guillen’s crew is playing great baseball, and it’s a good thing they have been so unbeatable. Minnesota sits just 1 1/2 games behind the White Sox in the American League Central and upgraded its bullpen with the addition of Washington closer Matt Capps on Thursday.
“We’re playing well right now, but we have to play well right now. Minnesota is playing well, too,” said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who homered for the fourth straight game and seventh straight 2010 home game against the Mariners. “We’re getting to the point in the season where it’s not really about the games we win or what our record is. It’s about games ahead and games behind.”
“Yeah. I mean it’s not like Minnesota is playing bad, they’re playing well right now,” said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, whose two hits on Thursday raised his average to .245. “So we’ve got to win every game we possibly can and we’ve been playing well. It’s fun to win at home in front of your home crowd.”
Winning at home became so second-nature to the 28,483 in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field that this group was doing the wave in the seventh inning Thursday as Putz was getting touched up for two runs. There also was no visible sign of panic when starter Freddy Garcia (10-4) gave up single runs in the first and the third for a 2-0 deficit.
That disadvantage quickly turned into a 4-2 advantage when the White Sox put five straight baserunners on to start the third against David Pauley (0-3). Juan Pierre doubled home two and Omar Vizquel singled home another run during the rally.
From there, it was the long ball taking over for the South Siders.
Konerko tied his career high of consecutive games with a home run when he launched his 25th off Garrett Olson in the seventh. Carlos Quentin’s 20th followed off Olson, giving the White Sox 21 home runs in their last seven home games.
But it was Ramon Castro who set the tone early, going deep in the fourth and sixth innings, producing just his second career multi-home run effort. Castro equaled a career high with three hits and three runs scored, raising his average to .327, and giving Guillen pause for thought where increased playing time is concerned for the backup backstop.
“He’s making it harder for me,” Guillen said. “You know we have [three] lefties against Oakland [in the next series], and I might give A.J. [Pierzynski] another day and put Castro back in the lineup, using his bat. Right now, he swings the bat good, but I think Castro takes care of himself very well.”
“I’ve been in this situation before,” said Castro, who capably played the reserve role for both the Marlins and the Mets. “I just keep working in the cage, whatever. Every time they give me the opportunity, I’m going to try to do my best.”
Garcia wasn’t at his best at Thursday’s outset but limited Seattle’s damage. The right-hander retired nine straight at one point, before exiting after six innings with three runs allowed on seven hits and no walks. A postgame question about Garcia being worried Thursday’s first two innings would turn into his dreadful effort in Oakland last weekend caused the confident hurler to bristle in response.
“Why do I have to worry, man? I told you guys, if I have bad starts, that’s in the past,” said Garcia, who fanned three and threw 99 pitches. “I have to do my job tonight. I pitched six innings. I threw my pitches and I got out of the innings. I gave up three over six innings, not bad.”
This effort certainly was good enough to allow a quick White Sox comeback from their now powerful offense, leading to their 27th come-from-behind win this season.
“In this park or any park, you have to get ahead of the hitters,” said Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, whose team finished 1-9 against the White Sox this season and lost all seven in Chicago. “When you fall behind, especially against a club that is as hot as this one, you run into trouble.”
“A lot of people worry about the home runs,” Guillen said. “We got people in the lineup who can hit home runs without hitting 70.”
So, all is well at U.S. Cellular, with Oakland coming to town for three games and the White Sox riding an 18-1 record over their last 19 home games and a 33-11 run over their last 44 overall. There is one more piece of somewhat cloudy news facing the White Sox.
Seattle and its 39-64 record now travels to Minneapolis for a weekend series, making White Sox success against the A’s all the more important to hold on to first place.
“Really, that’s all I look at,” Konerko said. “Just know if you picked up a game or stayed the same or lost a game in the column.”
Right now the Sox simply seem to find the right way to win. If they need a homer, they get it. If they need a runner moved over, they move him. Whatever crazy thing Ozzie asks for, they do. Without question. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Konerko try and steal home.I’m not sure I’d even be surprised if he succeeded.
As to the pic above, I just figured that a picture of my hairy chest would only make you angry. And there’s enough of that going around already.
Sometimes change is good, sometimes not so much so. Yesterday proved both versions of the axiom. PHIL ROGERS at the Tribune talks about how Derrek Lee avoided change by voiding a trade to the Angels. That move ensures that Lee will be a Cub through the end of this season, but there are no guarantees after that. At the Sun Times, RICK MORRISSEY notes that Kenny Williams seems insistent on making a change in the line up that neither the players nor the coaches want. I would add the voice of this pseudo-pundit to that choir. Do they need a pitcher? Yes. A monster bat that clogs the bases? No.
Memo to KW, Ted Lilly’s available.
Now, on to the yesterday’s games.
CARRIE MUSKAT of MLB.com watched the same game we did and wondered, just as we did, how the Cubs could make a pitcher with a 6.08 ERA look like Cy Young.
The Cubs have to be looking forward to playing the Rockies this weekend after dropping another series to a National League Central opponent.
Carlos Lee hit a pair of two-run homers to power the Astros to an 8-1 victory on Wednesday over the Cubs, who dropped to 19-30 against the Central, including a 4-8 record against Houston. They’re 3-9 against the Pirates.
“We treat every game the same as far as I’m concerned,” Cubs starter Randy Wells said. “I think it just comes down to scoring runs. I go out there and give up a three-spot and then we hit a wall. It comes down to scoring runs and pitching and trying to play good games.”
Wells (5-8) walked a season-high five batters and took the loss, serving up one of Lee’s homers. The Astros’ left fielder also connected off rookie Brian Schlitter with two outs in the seventh.
Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano were given the day off, so Tyler Colvin was inserted into the No. 3 spot in the order and Ryan Theriot was back in the leadoff spot. Theriot, Starlin Castro and Colvin were a combined 6-for-11. The only other hit by the Cubs in the game came with two outs in the ninth, when Koyie Hill reached on an infield single.
Theriot singled to start the game and moved up on an error by second baseman Anderson Hernandez. Colvin walked to load the bases, and Theriot scored on Aramis Ramirez’s sacrifice fly. But that was the only run off starter Bud Norris (3-7), who gave up four hits over six innings and struck out seven.
“We had chances early,” manager Lou Piniella said.
“In the first inning, [Norris] could have let that inning get away from him,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “That’s one of the things that’s been a struggle for him to be able to stop it and he was able to do that.”
Wells escaped a jam in the first and again in the fourth. But he walked Lance Berkman to start the sixth, and Hunter Pence followed with an RBI double to tie the game. That ended Wells’ scoreless inning streak at 19 innings. Lee followed with his 13th home run off the left-field foul pole to go ahead, 3-1.
“It’s kind of deceiving,” Wells said of his outing. “I was able to make some pitches and get out of some innings.”
But the right-hander said he lost his “aggressiveness.” It also didn’t help to have baserunners ahead of Lee and Pence.
“I was able to make pitches, but I ran out of luck,” Wells said. “I wasn’t aggressive with Berkman, and Lee made me pay. I thought I threw a pretty good pitch, but it stayed in there and stayed fair. It’s one of those days you’re not happy about, but you have to regroup and get them next time.”
Wells entered the game with a 1.26 ERA in his last four starts, giving up four earned runs in 28 2/3 innings. On Wednesday, he was charged with three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings.
“The name of the game is trying to be consistent,” Wells said. “You have a rocky first inning, then a good second inning, then a rocky fourth inning. I didn’t have that cruise-control kind of game.
“I felt I had good stuff in the ‘pen and then I walk a guy. It’s no secret that when I have success it’s throwing strikes and working fast and getting the ball on the ground. When you’re starting everybody 2-0 [in the count], it’s just a matter of time before it unravels.”
After Lee’s second homer in the seventh, the Astros added three more in the eighth off Bob Howry. He’s now given up 12 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings in July on 19 hits and three walks. The Cubs’ bullpen could use a day off Thursday.
“We’re pretty well spent,” Piniella said.
The ‘pen will get a fresh arm with the return of Carlos Zambrano, expected to be activated from the restricted list. It’ll be his first chance to talk to the team since his dugout tirade on June 25.
“We’re looking forward to the apology,” Chicago’s Derrek Lee said. “That’s what needs to happen. We also need him on the field. We know what he’s capable of. It will be good to see ‘Z’ back.”
Yes, that would be the same Carlos Zambrano who needed almost 40 pitches to get out of an inning in 3A last night. Even so, with Milwaukee’s recent struggles, the Cubs remain just a game and a half out of third place and Big Star still has his credit card sitting by the phone so he can get his playoff tickets (limit four per caller) as soon as they become available.
On the Southside, the Sox took their same old boring 16-1 recent home record to the field and, after a minor bump in the road, came back to make it 17-1. Before the streak the Sox were 13-18 at home, so this is change for the better. MLB.com’s LOUIE HORVATH notes the Sox scored every way possible to get this win, all without a left handed Clydesdale in the lineup.
The White Sox came back from an early deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners, 6-5, on Wednesday, marking their 10th consecutive win at U.S. Cellular Field.
Facing an early 5-1 deficit after the Mariners’ half of the second inning, the White Sox used three home runs to get back even, and then used a little “small ball” to push them over the top.
Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk. On the first pitch of the next at-bat, Pierre stole second. He moved to third on Alexei Ramirez’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored when Alex Rios chopped a ball through a drawn-in infield.
“It was a big game for us today. Huge,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We came back right away, twice. Kept going. Offensively we did a lot of great things today. We hit a couple home runs to keep close, tied the game up and JP got on base, stole second, [we] bunt the guy over and [get a] base hit. We did a lot of great things as a team to win this game today. I think as a team, we played very, very well today.”
The Mariners jumped on White Sox starter Mark Buehrle early, but Buehrle settled down and did not give up another run for his next three innings.
“To go out there and be down like we were tonight, I don’t feel like anyone ever panicked,” Gordon Beckham said. “We stayed focused, went out there and won the game.”
That gave the White Sox just enough time to mount a comeback. They started by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second, when Beckham hit a two-run home run off Mariners started Jason Vargas.
“When you get runs, you have to protect them because these guys can really hit in this ballpark,” Vargas said.
The South Siders tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when Ramirez and Paul Konerko both slugged almost identical solo home runs down the left-field line.
Once Pierre scored his run to put the White Sox ahead, the question on everyone’s mind was, ‘Who is going to close this game out?’ Incumbent closer Bobby Jenks had seemed to be deposed of his closer’s role after two blown saves during the recent road trip.
But as the innings kept going by, all the possible closers entered: Sergio Santos, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz. After the final out in the top of the eighth, Jenks started loosening up in the White Sox bullpen.
Looking back from the end of the season, the real story of the game might just be Jenks’ scoreless ninth inning. Jenks shook off any doubt and delivered three strikeouts to close the game in dominating fashion, like the Jenks of old.
Something else reminded the locker room crowd of the old Jenks.
“Just like when one of you guys thought it was low, I’m still not talking about velocity,” he said.
With that, Jenks clearly had his job as closer back—not that he’d ever lost it.
“We’re behind him 100 percent, not because he saved this game today,” Guillen said. “The reason he was there is because I have confidence in him. From the day he blew the save, I don’t think we had another save situation until today. We know when Bobby’s right. We know when Bobby can do what he can do.”
The win will certainly help the White Sox forget a rough start from Buehrle, who gave up five earned runs and nine hits in five innings of work.
“We won the game, that’s all that matters,” Buehrle said. “But personally it was frustrating going out there and only going five innings. I got us into a hole early and we battled back, so obviously you never want to go out there and give less than six or seven innings, but the bullpen picked me up and our offense picked us up.”
Buehrle was in trouble when Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins hit his first home run of the season deep into the left-field seats in the second inning to make it 5-1. After that swing, Buehrle allowed three hits and no runs over 3 1/3 innings.
“He went out there and was fighting,” Guillen said. “Buehrle didn’t have his best stuff today, but he went out and battled and kept us in the game and the bullpen did the rest.”
The bullpen came in and also held the Mariners at bay.
“The whole game, I felt like we were going to win that game,” Beckham said. “That’s the way it’s been going for us, we’re playing well, and we’ve just got to ride it as long as we can.”
The Sox play their final game against Seattle today and then Seattle heads off to get strapped down in front of the buzz saw known as the Minnesota Twins. I’d feel sorry for them except I have every intention of cheering for them during that series. The Sox get the A’s for the weekend series so now would be a very good time for them to put some distance between them and the piranhas.
In non-baseball news, the Bears began arriving at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais to begin training camp tomorrow. They are going to try and show how different they are from their last 3 years by trotting out most of the same puzzle pieces they had before, they’re just rearranged. Since the defense is still going to be a “Cover-2” based endeavor and the offense is going to be predicated on Jay Cutler showing maturity and patience, lots of fans are wondering if competitive ice dancing will be on the tube this fall.
Maybe tournament level curling?
If you’re a Cubs fan and, in a moment of abject despair, you take a goat into your front yard and commence booty banging it and the Cubs win that day, you know as well as I that you will do it again the next day. Disturbed neighbors and close-minded police be damned. You may apologize to the billy/nanny (depending on your preferences), but if that’s what’s required for the Cubs to go on a 10 or 15 game win streak, so be it. We’re talking about the fate of your team here.
Don’t worry, I’m not judging you. I’m just as guilty. Albeit sans farm animals.
I truly believed that, if I didn’t catch at least 3 innings of a Sox game at my local watering hole, the team was doomed. Last night put that fallacy to bed once and for all. I was unable to get there until the 7th inning. By then the Sox were doing just fine without me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want Jerry Reinsdorf to pick up a bar tab or two, but my ability to demand same has been weakened.
Yesterday, Ted Lilly of the Cubs might have delivered you the goat, although I doubt he’ll be buying me any beer. He, once again, had a shut out going and he, once again, lost. MLB.com’s CARRIE MUSKAT wonders how Lilly manages not to flay Gatorade containers into origami.
Ted Lilly and Lou Piniella shared a cab ride from their downtown Houston hotel to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. The two have been together with the Cubs for the same period of time, both joining the team in 2007. They have a special relationship.
Piniella is retiring at the end of the season, but whether he’ll have Lilly around for the final two months may not be known until Saturday’s Trade Deadline. Lilly did not get a decision in the Cubs’ 6-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday. The question now is when—and for whom—Lilly’s next start will be.
“He wants to stay here, but he understands,” Piniella said of Lilly, rumored to be sought after by pitching-needy teams still in the playoff race. “He’s been a huge part of my four years. He’s a good young man. He’s a professional, and I’ve got nothing but admiration for him.”
Was this Lilly’s last start for the Cubs?
“Maybe,” the lefty said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing and reading. We’ll see.”
Rookie Andrew Cashner was rocked for six runs in the seventh inning, including four on Lance Berkman’s fifth career grand slam, and Brett Myers threw a four-hit complete game to give Houston the win.
Lilly didn’t overpower the Astros, as the Minute Maid radar gun rarely topped 90 mph on his pitches. The lefty struck out eight, scattered five hits, and walked three over 5 2/3 innings.
“[Lilly’s] been a model of consistency,” Piniella said. “He gives you a very reasonable chance of winning a baseball game when he goes out there.”
Sounds like a sales pitch. Once again, the Cubs failed to give Lilly any margin for error. He has gotten the least amount of run support in the Major Leagues, part of the reason for his 3-8 record. In his past three starts, he’s given up four earned runs over 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA. It’s been difficult for him to avoid all the trade talk and rumors.
“Sometimes things like that can help you, sometimes they can hurt you, sometimes they’re irrelevant,” Lilly said.
“I’d like to think that, of those three, they’re irrelevant. You hear about it, you read about it, you hear people talk about it, you guys ask me questions. There’s no doubt I’ve thought about it. Again, that’s one of those things you have to deal with, things in this game that don’t necessarily have anything to do with locating the fastball.”
Piniella has Lilly scheduled to start Monday in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
“Let’s not talk about [the possibility of Lilly leaving] until we get some word,” Piniella said. “Let’s hope we’ll have him out there at Wrigley for us.”
Myers (8-6) struck out a career-high 12 batters in his 10th career complete game. He retired the first nine batters he faced before Tyler Colvin doubled to lead off the fourth. Colvin also led off the ninth with his 16th home run. That was about it for the offense.
“He’s one of those guys who’s kind of a throwback,” Berkman said of Myers. “He expects to throw 120 pitches every time out. That’s his mentality and part of what makes him really good. It’s his game, and he doesn’t want to come out of the game, and he really doesn’t care how many pitches he’s got. I’m glad to see him be able to finish that.”
He almost didn’t. Cashner (1-4) got ahead of Humberto Quintero, 0-2, to start the seventh but hit him. That allowed the Astros to lift Quintero for pinch-runner Jason Bourgeois, who stole second and moved up on Myers’ sacrifice. If Cashner gets Quintero out, Myers is probably lifted for a pinch-hitter. Instead, Michael Bourn was intentionally walked and Bourgeois scampered home on a safety squeeze by Angel Sanchez. Cashner had retrieved the ball and tried to flip it to catcher Koyie Hill, but it was too late.
“It was a tough inning for Cashner,” Piniella said. “On the squeeze play, you just concede the run and get the out and get the heck out of the inning. Those are things you learn as a young pitcher.”
“It was a good bunt,” Cashner said. “I thought I had a chance. I went and looked at it [on video], and I see I didn’t have much of a chance and should’ve made the play at first.”
Hunter Pence followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Carlos Lee walked and Jeff Keppinger was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Berkman, who drove a 2-0 pitch from Cashner to center for the grand slam. The Cubs’ bullpen was short-handed because of overwork, and it was Cashner’s inning.
“That was a tough at-bat,” Cashner said of Berkman. “The first pitch was kind of close and he made a good swing. I could’ve pitched him a little different right there. I put myself in a jam. It is what it is.”
It’s part of the growing pains for the rookie right-hander, who got a pep talk from Lilly. That’s one more reason why Piniella and the Cubs players would hate to lose the lefty.
“I just hope [Cashner] doesn’t worry about it too much and his focus stays the same,” Lilly said. “The game of baseball is crazy. It can be easy to doubt yourself at times. Hopefully he doesn’t. He’s got great makeup, and clearly he has a special arm and a very good, sound delivery to go along with it.”
“He’s a great guy,” Cashner said of Lilly. “I wanted nothing more than to keep the score at zero when I left the game for Ted. It didn’t happen.”
The rookie would like another chance to do so.
I actually felt sorry for Cashner. The one that got away just opened the floodgates. Until his miscue there was a real chance of both teams taking shut outs for the full 9 innings. But, that’s okay. Our very own Big Star was seen heading to a petting zoo this morning so I’m sure the Cubs will turn this around quickly.
Way to take one for the team there big guy.
On the Southside, as I mentioned above, the Sox were clinging to an 11-0 lead in the 7th when I was finally able to catch the game. I also discovered yesterday that my sense of humor doesn’t always translate well into Spanish. Luckily for me I remained unbruised and, about half an hour later, I heard the young lady (whom I had not meant to insult) suddenly say “OOOHHHH, I get it now!” and all was forgiven.
As LOUIE HORVATH of MLB.com reports, Gavin Floyd has also forgiven the Sox for not scoring any runs when he pitches.
The way Gavin Floyd has been pitching lately, one run probably could have sufficed on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. But the White Sox offense gave him 11 anyway, and they won going away, 11-0, over the Mariners for their ninth straight win at home.
Floyd (6-8) continued his torrid stretch, holding the Mariners scoreless in his seven innings on the mound, collecting six strikeouts and scattering five hits.
In his last 10 starts, Floyd has given up just eight earned runs over 69 1/3 innings, going 4-2. The Mariners need no refresher, though, as they have seen his last 14 scoreless innings.
“I feel like I’m going out there and having conviction with every pitch and not concerned with the results,” Floyd said. “I just go out there and make a pitch and whatever happens, happens.”
Over those 10 starts, Floyd has not given up a single home run, nor has he given up more than two earned runs in a single start.
“I don’t remember any [stretch] better,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s throwing the ball well. That’s one of the reasons we got him out of there in the seventh. We don’t want to overuse him for no reason. The way we go, we try to keep the guys as fresh as we can until the end of the season so they still have some bullets left.”
Most of the reason to save Floyd on this particular evening came when the White Sox offense smashed Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith for seven runs in the first two innings.
“It’s never easy on a manager to leave a guy out there,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He gave us five innings. But giving up seven early kind of forces you to either go to your bullpen and decimate it at that point or you’ve got to leave him out there. It’s not an easy situation for him, also.”
By the time Rowland-Smith left the game after pitching five innings, the White Sox had piled on four more runs, giving Rowland-Smith a franchise-record 11 runs allowed.
The most impressive aspect of the output was how little the White Sox wasted—despite getting 12 hits and two walks, the team left only two runners on base.
Part of that could be attributed to the bottom of the order, as they more than carried their weight on Tuesday—of the team’s 11 runs, seven of them were driven in by players batting sixth or lower.
The opening salvo came just two batters into the game, when Alexei Ramirez singled home Juan Pierre, who had stolen second base.
In the next inning, Ramirez hit a two-run homer. When White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko added a solo home run later in the inning, the rout was on. Andruw Jones also slugged a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ramirez has been having a renaissance of late, as he is batting .367 in his last 29 games. Part of his turnaround can be attributed to the warmer weather that is making U.S. Cellular Field play smaller, but also making him more comfortable.
“I’m working every day and seeing more consistency and I know the pitchers,” Ramirez said through translator Ozzie Guillen Jr. “But the weather is a big factor. The weather is just like it is in Cuba. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I feel really comfortable hitting in really warm weather. That’s a big part of it.”
“I think that’s the potential we know we can get there,” Guillen said. “A combination of an unbelievable shortstop and put his bat in the same group at the same time. I think that’s something. We all know he can do that. The thing was how long will it take for him to get there. I’m proud of him, the way he plays shortstop. I really am.”
The win marks the 16th for the White Sox in their last 17 home games, as playing in Chicago has been very beneficial of late.
“I think we play very well here,” Floyd said. “We’re comfortable, we know the field very well and we have the team that fits this field quite well. It’s nice to come back here after a long trip and get back on our feet.”
With the Twins also winning big, the White Sox continue to hold onto a one-game AL Central lead. Even with the uncertainty of Saturday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline looming, all the White Sox players are worrying about is winning and holding onto the division lead.
“The team is inspired,” Ramirez said. “The goal is to keep winning every day, and that’s what everyone has on their minds.”
Got their minds on their money and their money on their minds.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.
Now that the Sox look like the team we were promised in Spring Training, more and more fans are coming in off those ledges and discovering the summertime joys of a well made gin and juice. They are also enjoying baseball again. Granted, without a Capra Hircus on their lawn.
While we are not advocating that you start your day with the legendary dish of FISH HEADS, there is still an edible theme to today’s blog. And, thanks to ELLIOTT HARRIS, there’s a baseball theme to today’s ruminations on gluttony.
TUESDAY TIDBITS: The Cell goes gluten-free
The White Sox are making some concessions this season. Off the field. To fans at U.S. Cellular Field in search of gluten-free fare to eat and/or drink.
The team said concession stands have been updated to provide gluten-free items. Sections 110 and 522: Triple Play Carvery Stand and All-Star Stand—fresh carved roast beef, corned beef or roasted turkey on gluten-free multigrain bread; gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Sections 105 and 544: Comiskey Dog—hot dog on gluten-free bun. Sections 122, 152 and 523: TexMex—nachos with choice of beef barbacoa, pork barbacoa or chicken carnita as topping. Sections 144 and 538: Winning Ugly is Sweet Stand and All-Star Stand—vanilla or chocolate soft-serve ice cream. Sections 109, 157 and 531: Beers of the World—Bard’s Tale gluten-free beer.
TASTEFULLY DONE: A Cubs recipe for success
As distasteful as the season has been to many Cubs fans, there is something new to whet their appetites.
It’s the Chicago Cubs Cookbook: All-Star Recipes From Your Favorite Players.
Edited by Carrie Muskat of cubs.com, the book benefits the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation. Sales at Wrigley Field over the weekend should have benefitted from a prime concourse location just beyond the ballpark’s entrance.
In addition to recipes from players, the cookbook also has recipes from some of the city’s top restaurants.
Among the cookbook entries is one from manager Lou Piniella for chicken salad. Something says there’s a tasteless punch line in there somewhere, but you’ll have to provide it.
Despite her duties in creating and promoting the cookbook, MLB.com’s CARRIE MUSKAT takes a look at Carlos Silva - who clearly never met a meal he didn’t like. In fact his doctor told him to quit making intimate meals for four unless he has three guests.
It’s been more than a year since Ryan Theriot’s last home run. It just seems that long between wins for Carlos Silva.
Theriot hit his first home run in 700 at-bats, a solo shot, and Geovany Soto added a two-run double to back Silva and lift the Cubs to a 5-2 victory Monday night over the Astros.
Silva (10-4) reached double-digit victories for the first time since 2007, when he won 13 games with the Twins, and has a chance at matching his personal high of 14. What if you had told manager Lou Piniella that he’d get 10 wins from Silva, acquired from the Mariners for Milton Bradley?
“We would’ve been very pleased,” Piniella said. “When [general manager] Jim [Hendry] made that deal with Seattle, if he could’ve written a ‘10’ by Carlos, he would’ve been very pleased.
“Now he has a chance to put a few more on the board,” Piniella said. “He’s done a real nice job here. He’s a professional and he’s throwing more pitches because he’s getting deeper in counts. What is he, 10-4? I think Jim would’ve done cartwheels.”
The right-hander began his first season with the Cubs 8-0, but he couldn’t get past the second inning in his last two starts. He was given an extra day to work on the side with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who got the right-hander to tweak his mechanics and have a more compact delivery. It worked.
“What an improvement over his last start,” Piniella said.
That last start also was against the Astros, when Silva gave up five runs on seven hits in one inning. On Monday, Silva held Houston to one run on five hits over five innings, and the run came in the first on Lance Berkman’s RBI single.
“He kept mixing his pitches,” Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said. “We tried to mix pitches up and keep them guessing. With this team, they come out swinging and you have to do a little twitch here and there.”
Silva isn’t counting his wins yet. The season isn’t over.
“With this offense we have and the pitching staff we have, we can do some damage,” Silva said. “I was a little sad—right when the team was playing so good, I had these two bad games.”
Silva wasn’t concerned about his two previous starts.
“I had a bad year last year, and this year I’m having a pretty good year so far,” he said. “If you don’t learn from those [bad games]—I’m a guy who trusts God. If I’m going to get frustrated over the last two games, if those two are going to take me out of the year I’m having, then I’m very poor [mentally].
“I’m not concerned at all. We’re human and have bad games. The only thing I can do is keep working.”
The Cubs now are 19-28 against National League Central teams, including a 4-6 mark against the Astros, and have won eight of their last 13 games.
Soto got things started when he hit a two-run double in the second off Wesley Wright (0-1), driving in Marlon Byrd, who had walked, and Alfonso Soriano, who doubled. The Cubs added on in the third, as Derrek Lee doubled and moved up on Aramis Ramirez’s single. Lee scored on Byrd’s fielder’s choice, forcing Ramirez at second, and Soriano followed with an RBI double.
“I was happy with the way I competed,” Wright said. “They have a solid lineup over there, one through eight. More than anything, I was impressed with how they hit with runners in scoring position. They took advantage of it all night long, and when they do that, it’s going to be tough to beat them.”
The Cubs may be a man short. Soto had to leave the game after six innings with a bruised left foot, injured when he fouled a pitch off it in the third. His status was day-to-day.
Theriot connected on a 1-2 pitch from Nelson Figueroa, who started the sixth, for his first home run since June 29, 2009, when he delivered against Pittsburgh’s Zach Duke. The infielder now has 15 career homers, and his homerless stretch was the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
Theriot’s teammates gave him the silent treatment when he got back into the dugout.
“I knew it was coming when I was coming around third base,” Theriot said. “It’s not funny. I’m going to initiate the silent treatment for every homer from here on out.”
Maybe his ball got a boost from a jet stream?
“The wind was blowing out here, and I was able to get it up in the wind,” he said.
Yes, the roof was closed Monday at Minute Maid Park.
Angel Sanchez singled with two outs in the Astros’ seventh off Justin Berg, and moved up because of some confusion by the Cubs. Berkman hit the ball to Lee, and the first baseman looked at second, but rookie Starlin Castro wasn’t covering, so Lee threw to Berg at first but too late. Everyone was safe, and Hunter Pence followed with an RBI single.
“These are the things [Castro] has got to learn,” Piniella said of the 20-year-old. “It should be an easy play for him, because Berkman is up and he’s playing him up the middle. The ball Derrek catches, his momentum is going to second base. He makes a little throw to second and the shortstop covers and the inning is over.
“Those are growing pains. [Infield coach Alan Trammell] is earning his money.”
Yes he is, but so are those rookies. The Cubs are now 7-4 since the break and showing signs of life. Is it too little too late? Who knows? But if they can start feasting on the competition like they have been recently then Big Star will gladly provide them with a buffet in the post season.
On the Southside, MLB.com’s LOUIE HORVATH has all the delicious news.
Quick side note; I know 4 guys named Louie. Each and everyone of them can find a great deli anyplace, any time. In fact, I was stuck in New Mexico one night with a Louie. One hour after we found a hotel he’d found kosher corned beef sandwiches, with kosher dills on the side. As far as the eye could see were nothing but Mexican restaurants and a Burger King, yet we noshed like we were in a Hell’s Kitchen deli at noon.
Okay, back to baseball.
The White Sox beat the Mariners, 6-1, at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday, and have now won 15 of their past 16 at home.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has an interesting explanation for their recent success at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Maybe we cheat,” said Guillen, drawing laughter from the media. “You never know. I don’t know, man. This is a very, very good ballpark to hit, and a very comfortable park to pitch.”
No opposing pitcher seems very comfortable when he steps on the mound lately, not even Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. The same man who held the White Sox scoreless through eight innings just five days prior at Safeco Field was buried this time around underneath an avalanche of timely White Sox hits.
The third inning featured four singles that led to two runs, largely because of Alexei Ramirez’s two-out steal of second. From there, Juan Pierre singled him in and advanced to second when Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez threw home in an attempt to nail Ramirez. Pierre scored on Omar Vizquel’s single in the next at-bat.
“I think the stolen base that we scored with two outs, that was huge,” Guillen said. “That gives us the lead, then after that John Danks took it over.”
“We’ve got a very dynamic team,” Pierre said. “We can score with the little ball, so to speak, with the singles, bunting, stealing, hit and running. And we have guys in the lineup with [Carlos] Quentin, [Paul] Konerko, [Alex] Rios that can hit the ball out. We’re well balanced and we believe in the 25 guys in here.”
The power part of Pierre’s equation came in the sixth, when Konerko hit a towering fly ball that stayed just fair and carried into the White Sox bullpen.
“You could see Felix, when PK hit that home run—we’re not in Safeco Field,” Guillen said. “He looked very surprised when that ball left the ballpark and how far it went.”
That output was more than enough cushion for Danks, who went eight innings, giving up six hits and one earned run.
“Danks was awfully good,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “That’s two outings in a row he has pitched extremely well against us. He’s throwing strikes, painting both sides of the plate and kept a lot of our hitters off balance.”
Danks’ mastery was not in how many people he struck out (two), but rather in how many batters he induced outs from. Only three Mariners reached second base all game, and one was on a Michael Saunders double in the third inning. Saunders was also the only run to score for the Mariners.
“It’s [all] about consistency,” Guillen said. “He’s been doing it. I think this kid’s got enough stuff. He’s got a huge heart. This kid, every time he’s out there, he fights every pitch. Even when he doesn’t have the best stuff, he’s out there fighting to give you a good, good effort. That’s good enough.”
Danks has been superb of late, going 7-2 with a 2.69 ERA over his past nine starts. With his ERA hovering at 3.23 for the season, it is not a stretch to think Danks might soon be entering into the Cy Young conversation if his current success holds.
“I’m just trying to win every ballgame and give us a chance to win,” Danks said. “Obviously it’s nice to look at the numbers and realize I’ve had some good success, but this game will catch up to you trying to look ahead. Just going out there and trying to make pitches. Fortunately guys were making plays behind me.”
Besting pitchers like Hernandez will only help Danks’ candidacy.
“You have to limit [runs when facing Hernandez] for sure,” Danks said. “He’s going to be pretty good. This was probably one of the worst games he’s had all year and he was still pretty darn good. So we knew we had to pitch well, and like I said, fortunately we were able to do that.”
Hernandez’s four earned runs on the evening are the fourth most he’s given up in 22 starts this season, and much of it is attributable to the White Sox opportunistic offense.
“We got good at-bats,” Guillen said. “Even the guys that went out, they were fighting. ... We knew we were going to face a pretty good one, but our offense was lights-out every at-bat.”
The Twins also won on Monday, 19-1, in Kansas City, so the White Sox (54-44) remain a single game in front of Minnesota in the American League Central. These White Sox are not worried about the prospect of a close race.
“From the outside looking in for all those years, it always seemed like they played 163 games a couple times here [in the AL Central],” Pierre said. “I don’t expect any difference. It’s going to be a dogfight, but as long as you take care of your business, if we take care of our business, we’ll be there at the end.”
It can be a dogfight as long as the Sox don’t turn into dog food.
Anyway, in summation, ORDER THE CUB’S COOKBOOK; the recipes are great and the money goes to a good cause. If you’re going to eat at the old ball park, get ye to the Cell. The food there has always been good and now is just getting better.
In NL Central division news, with the Brew Crew pulling out a 3-2 win over Cincy, they are now a game and a half ahead of the Cubs for third place. But, with the Cards idle, both teams pulled a half game closer to first.
How’s that for positive spin?
In AL Central division news, with the Twins hanging on to squeak out a 19-1 win over KC, they stay just one game behind the first place Sox. The Tigers got shut out (one walk shy of a perfect game) by the Rays. That was the first time in the Rays’ history that they’ve thrown one, so they were a little stoked. The cuddly Tiggers are now all alone in 3rd place.