In Which It was 5-3

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For those of you who know what that means, please explain it to the newbies.

This just in; Jay Cutler’s happy, the Super Bowl is guaranteed for Chicago.

You don’t even need to watch the games, just trust me on that.

Okay, on to baseball.

Yesterday the Cubs, not content to let their own fans down, decided to disappoint Sox fans too. Carrie Muskat says the Cubs tried and tried and were really nice to the ball boy, but they still lost 5-3 to the Tigers.

Justin Verlander gave Tigers fans who packed into Wrigley Field plenty to cheer about, and Cubs hitters plenty to think about.

Verlander struck out eight, Prince Fielder hit an RBI double, and Austin Jackson had three hits, including a two-run homer, to power the Tigers to a 5-3 victory Thursday over the Cubs, and take the Interleague series.

“We had to face a tough pitcher today,” Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano said.

Verlander (6-4) scattered five hits over eight innings, and ended a personal three-game losing streak with the win. He’s now 17-2 in Interleague Play.

“My first at-bat, he was throwing it seemed like [batting practice] fastballs, they were like 90 miles an hour, and sometimes you would look up at the board and he was throwing 97 [mph],” the Cubs’ Tony Campana said. “Adding and subtracting, that keeps us off balance—that’s good pitching.”

For the Cubs, the loss was the 22nd in the last 28 games, and they dropped to 2-7 in Interleague Play this season.

“We’re battling each game, we’re right there each game,” Cubs starter Travis Wood said. “I think we’ll keep battling and start winning some ballgames here.”

Jackson doubled to lead off the game against Wood (0-3), and scored two outs later on Fielder’s double. Ryan Raburn, recalled from Triple-A Toledo prior to the game, added an RBI double in the second to open a 2-0 lead, much to the delight of the thousands of orange-clad Tigers fans in the crowd of 42,292, the biggest of the season at Wrigley Field.

“I love it here,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s a great atmosphere. I’ve always said a Cubs game is more than a game, it’s a happening. It’s kind of a neat atmosphere. Fortunately, we came in and won two out of three.”

The series drew 124,782, the largest mid-week, three-game series in the ballpark’s history.

“They’ll spend a lot of money to take their vacations and come to a landmark stadium like this, and spend a lot of money for their tickets,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Tigers fans. “It might be the last time a lot of fans get to see their team at Wrigley.”

Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player, isn’t used to hitting, and after he reached base on a fielder’s choice in the second, he didn’t seem quite the same in the next half-inning. Soriano and Bryan LaHair both singled in the second, and one out later, Darwin Barney hit an RBI double. LaHair scored on Luis Valbuena’s groundout to tie the game at 2.

Verlander then settled into a groove, giving up two hits over the next six innings.

“After the second, I started to get my rhythm a little bit,” Verlander said. “I started throwing my breaking ball for strikes and keeping guys off balance.”

One of the hits off the Tigers’ right-hander was by Wood, who singled with two outs in the fifth, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit. Barney singled to lead off the eighth but was snuffed out when Valbuena grounded into a double play.

“The stuff is obviously there, and whenever he gets in trouble, he basically gets to another level,” Sveum said of the Tigers’ ace. “We had had a couple chances and we took advantage, and got two runs off him early, and that’s a lot against those kind of guys. Then boom, here comes the breaking balls, here comes the full package to shut you down.”

Jackson hit an RBI single in the seventh and homered off Shawn Camp in the ninth, driving in pinch-hitter Don Kelly, who had tripled, dropping the ball over a diving Campana in center.

“If I make the catch, then there’s nobody on base and everybody is talking about it, and if I don’t [catch it], then everybody is talking about it and there’s a guy on third base,” Campana said.

The leadoff man got on in every inning against Wood, but he did limit the Tigers to two hits with runners in scoring position.

“For me, I was a little more amped up going agianst a guy like Verlander,” Wood said. “You know you have to be on top of your game. Even if he doesn’t have his ‘A’ game, he’s still a great pitcher. I think everybody was bringing their ‘A’ game, or at least, that’s what their mindset was. We battled all game, and it wasn’t our day.”

Dear Travis Wood: No you won’t. You are on a team that, for all intents and purposes, just traded the hitting coach. By this time next month you will need to check the IDs of the players to see if they’re old enough to have a clubhouse beer.

Anyway, while the Cubs let us down, Dusty Baker was kind enough to remember how to be a good neighbor and his Reds swept the Tribe. All of which allowed the Sox to stagnate in first with the loss of their first inter-league series since .... well, eleven series ago.

Scott Merkin said the Sox 5-3 loss especially hurt since it was all Gavin Floyd’s fault.

Adam Dunn has a theory about pitchers.

Every starter makes six good ones and six bad ones during the course of a 162-game season.

“It’s what you do with the other 20,” Dunn said.

Using Dunn’s mound math, Gavin Floyd has used up his allotment of non-quality performances. Unfortunately for the White Sox and Floyd, that personal streak of poor starts reached six straight during a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday night before 43,464 at Busch Stadium.

In just 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals (33-31), Floyd allowed five runs on eight hits. Over these last six starts, Floyd has a 1-4 record with a 10.38 ERA and has just one start during that stretch with less than five runs allowed. He has yielded 49 hits, including 11 homers, over the 30 1/3 innings worked, while walking 10 and striking out 30. Two of Floyd’s walks Thursday were issued to opposing pitcher Jake Westbrook.

Yet, a predominantly positive Floyd wasn’t focused on these past struggles or his future spot in the rotation after the White Sox second straight loss. His thoughts centered on a quick change for his bad fortune.

“If you don’t get the results, it’s tough, it’s frustrating,” said Floyd, after walking four and striking out five. “It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep on grinding, I’m going to try to win ballgames.

“There’s no point in focusing on not getting results. I’m going to keep on battling and keep on fighting because I know this is going to turn around.”

David Freese’s run-scoring double in the second and two-run homer in the third gave the Cardinals an early 3-0 lead behind Westbrook, and Matt Adams’ two-out, bases-loaded single in the fifth knocked Floyd from the game. Manager Robin Ventura came to the mound before Floyd faced Adams, and while he planned to have left-handed reliever Will Ohman pitch against left-handed-hitting Adron Chambers in the next at-bat, he decided to leave in his starter.

On a 3-2 offering, Adams drove in Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig with his line shot to center. Floyd had struck out Adams in each of his previous two trips to the plate.

“My game is trying to get guys to swing the bat,” Floyd said. “I missed the pitch with Freese, got 3-2 with Adams and they capitalized on it. You have to learn from it. When you miss, maybe you have to miss off the plate.”

“Maybe I was trying to do too much and I was pressing a lot,” said Adams, of his first two at-bats before hitting a slider up over the plate to finish Floyd. “I told myself to try and relax and see the ball as good as I can. The first few pitches of that third at-bat I saw the ball good, and I got locked in.”

Westbrook (5-6) looked locked in during the first 5 2/3 innings. He retired the first 12 White Sox hitters on just 40 pitches and had 12 outs via the ground ball.

Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham delivered back-to-back singles with two outs in the sixth, but Westbrook still seemed to be in control. That control evaporated when Dunn launched the next pitch like a laser to center field, producing his 22nd homer of the season to tie him with Texas’ Josh Hamilton for the Major League lead and his 50th RBI.

Dunn has homered in four straight starts, getting just one pinch-hit appearance in Wednesday’s loss due to a slightly sprained right ankle suffered Tuesday. He talked his way into Thursday’s starting lineup after running at less than full strength Wednesday, according to Ventura, but felt fine once the action began.

“Once kind of the adrenaline takes over, that’s the last thing you think about,” Dunn said. “I’m hoping today is the last day it’s going to even be an issue.”

Even with Dunn’s blast, that five-run deficit ended up being too deep of a hole for the White Sox (34-29) to climb free. They lost a third straight series for the first time since April 23 to May 6, when they dropped four in a row. Their American League Central lead stayed at 1 1/2 games over Cleveland but Detroit moved within four games of the lead.

Ventura understands the White Sox won’t win every series but remains happy with the team’s effort and preparation. He believes Floyd’s stuff is there and the confidence soon will come, followed by better results.

Prior to Thursday’s setback, Jake Peavy provided this ringing endorsement for his beleaguered rotation mate.

“I truly believe he has turned the corner,” said Peavy of Floyd. “Guys don’t want to face Gavin Floyd, I can tell you that, especially when he has got it going.”

Floyd definitely has talent, some of the best pure stuff among the White Sox front five. But Peavy’s talk of Floyd turning the corner looks to have been one start off. A 1.26 ERA over 28 2/3 innings in Floyd’s previous four starts before this prolonged funk also gives the White Sox hope Floyd can match Peavy’s lofty expectations.

“I’m just looking at it today, and do my job,” said Floyd, who exited at 83 pitches. “It didn’t happen today, but I have to put it behind me, keep on working on things and try to figure this out.

“Just keep on battling and grinding and it doesn’t matter what happened in the past. And make pitches. One of these days it will turn around and I’ll look back and laugh at it. Right now, it’s tough and it’s not fun. I just have to keep on going.”

And if the doctor says you’re through,
Keep a-goin’!
Why he’s a human just like you,
Keep a-goin’!
Ain’t no law says you must die,
Wipe them tears from off your eye,
Give ol’ life another try --
Keep a-goin’!

Ain’t no law says you must die,
Wipe them tears from off your eye,
Trust the Good Lord up on high --
He’ll help!
Keep a-goin’!
Keep a-goin’!

- Henry Gibson

Or not. It’s up to you. Either way you’re trsde bait.

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