This morning, on my way to work, I was sitting in a cab listening to the driver’s accent recount the many glorious sights that Lisle Illinois has to offer. I happened to glance at his license and noticed his last name. It’s not common and it was the same as one of the people who was killed in Milwaukee this past Sunday. He saw me staring at his license and sighed. He then confirmed that it was his cousin who had died.
We talked about his being a Hindu and how many of his cousins were Sikhs. The section of the Punjab they come from is a political mess but the families all seem to get along. We joked, odd as it may seem all things considered, about how Hindus have so many gods and Sikhs have only one. I thought that had to make family gatherings a point of some fascinating conversations. He laughed and said it rarely came up since both religions preach tolerance of others.
Things can get confusing for Westerners since the Sikhs do not worship the God of Abraham. They refer to their one God as Vahiguru and do not ascribe masculine or feminine attributes to it. To them God is beyond such limitations.
So we sat and he mourned and we found humor in it all.
But it was what he said as I was getting out of the cab that stuck with me.
“The Sikhs have had some legendary armies, and held the British back when they invaded India, but they do not have a tradition of vengeance. There will be many tears long after this is done.”
If you and your God can see your way clear, please throw a prayer in their direction.
Okay, onto less depressing stuff.
Or, to make the most tactless segue ever, “Speaking of throwing ....”
Yeah, I’m going to hell for that.
Anyway, the Cubs and the Sox both had a pitcher this year who had an odd elbow problem. They dealt with the issue in radically different ways. Carrie Muskat tells about the travails of Matt Garza.
As of Saturday, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza fully expected to make his start Tuesday night. Now, it’s not certain whether the right-hander will pitch again this season.
Garza was diagnosed Monday with a stress reaction in the back of his right elbow, and will be sidelined indefinitely. Brooks Raley will be promoted from Triple-A Iowa to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Padres.
Garza has not pitched since July 21 when he had to come out of the game after three innings because of cramping in his right triceps. He had a good bullpen session on Saturday in Los Angeles, but his arm was stiff on Sunday and he was sent back to Chicago to be examined. Tests on Monday revealed the injury.
Cubs reliever Blake Parker was diagnosed with the same injury earlier this year, and he last pitched June 1. He was scheduled to make his first rehab start on Monday for Triple-A Iowa.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer would not predict whether there’s time for Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) to return this year.
“We’ll keep reevaluating him and will make that decision when he picks up a ball and starts throwing again,” Hoyer said. “To speculate right now on his status for the season wouldn’t be right. Today, we got the diagnosis, talked about it and we’ll make a decision when it’s right. It’s too early to speculate on the remainder of the season or when he’ll start throwing.”
Garza won’t be allowed to pick up a baseball for the next two weeks.
“He felt really good, as he told [the media] on Saturday, and that’s the surprise of it,” Hoyer said. “Matt’s a competitor and he’ll want to get out there and get going. He’ll be eager to get back and we’ll wind up holding him back to an extent.”
With the loss of Garza, Jeff Samardzija now has senior status on the Cubs rotation, and this is his first year as a full-time starter.
“It’s the way things go sometimes,” Samardzija said. “You just have to be ready for anything.”
Samardzija expected Garza to return sooner rather than later.
“Garza really loves to pitch,” Samardzija said. “He’s not a guy to take a day or ask for a day or complain about how he feels. You know if he’s not feeling well, he’s definitely not feeling well. Hopefully, he can get back as soon as possible. When you have a guy like Garza, it turns the rotation up a notch for sure.”
So this, then, was the plan; let him keep throwing without seeking medical attention and hope nothing falls off. When did Jake Peavey become a pitching coach?
As you can see this was not a good plan.
On the Southside, where they actually have a Jake Peavey, they ran into a similar issue with Chris Sale. They shut him down so fast his head spun retroactively. Then they set him up to work exclusively from the pen so he couldn’t put any additional stress on his elbow. And while many people talk about how Sale sold K-Dub and the gang on his ability to start and not be in the pen it was actually the medical staff which put together a treatment regime with regular testing, that Sale had to agree to, before they even considered letting him pitch a game again. When his velocity dropped 3 mph they shut him down again and ran him through more tests. The kid probably feels like he’s living the scary scenes from A Clockwork Orange.
But, and this is the important part, it’s working. Scott Merkin has the compete story.
Chris Sale made one point abundantly clear during Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Royals before 30,097 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Give the southpaw nine days between starts, and there will be absolutely no questions about his velocity.
As for holding the Royals (45-63) to a pair of solo homers over eight innings and working his way out of a game-changing situation in the eighth? Well, Sale already has proven himself as one of the American League’s top starters during the 2012 season, so that was nothing new.
“He had good stuff tonight,” said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, whose 18th homer leading off the seventh tied the game at 2. “He was getting it up there at 95 [mph] and if he’s throwing that hard, you know he’s got the slider, the changeup.”
“Everything felt good. It felt comfortable out there,” Sale said. “Sometimes when you feel too loose you try to do a little bit too much and that’s the thing I was trying not to do.”
Even in the seventh inning, on his 88th pitch out of 101, Sale touched 95 with his fastball for a called third strike on Eric Hosmer. That number presents a sizable contrast to his last start on July 27 in Texas, when Sale topped out at 92 on just two occasions over 6 1/3 innings.
Sale struck out seven on Monday and didn’t issue a walk. But it was both his pitching and defense that saved the White Sox from trouble in the top of the eighth.
Tony Abreu opened the frame with a double down the third-base line, and the go-ahead run moved to third on Chris Getz’s single to center. Sale (13-3) was up to the first-and-third, no-out challenge, though, with the help of Alexei Ramirez’s diving grab to his right on Alex Gordon’s spinning liner.
Alcides Escobar, hitting .300, was called upon to lay down a safety squeeze, but Escobar pushed it toward third base instead of the desired direction of toward first. Sale fielded the bunt and tagged Abreu on the run down the line, causing a minor collision that caused no harm.
“I saw the ball down,” said Sale. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw he was still halfway down the line. I picked it up and tried to make sure I had the ball in my glove and put the tag on him.”
“That’s a situation that’s tailor-made for [Escobar] right there,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “First and third, one out, safety squeeze, for him to take a pitch and bunt it to first base. Konerko’s got to hold because he’s got Getz—who’s a running threat, so he can’t break real early. Sale made a nice play, but it wasn’t a good bunt.”
Lorenzo Cain struck out on three pitches to end the wasted rally, with Cain swinging wildly through Sale’s high fastball for strike three. Sale set up the victory over the first 7 1/2 innings, and Gordon Beckham provided the finishing touch.
Beckham’s 10th homer came on the first pitch from Luis Mendoza (5-8) with one out in the eighth, giving the White Sox a 3-2 edge. Kevin Youkilis followed with a run-scoring double to bring in Jordan Danks, ending the night for Mendoza at 7 1/3 innings, but it was Beckham’s first homer since June 20 against the Cubs that held up as the game-winner.
“I’ve had some bad luck, but at the same time, you have bad luck coupled with bad at-bats and it doesn’t go your way,” said Beckham, who is hitting .228 with 39 RBIs. “It was good to get one tonight after I definitely made an adjustment in the last at-bat from yesterday’s game. It made some sense and helped me slow down a little bit.”
“It was that one inning where we had first and third and didn’t get it done and then they came back and scored,” Gordon said. “Total momentum change right there. Gotta give them credit. They capitalized and we didn’t. Just didn’t get it done.”
Kansas City used the long ball to score off Sale, as Jeff Francoeur (fifth inning) and Billy Butler (seventh inning) both went deep. The White Sox countered with the two homers, Youkilis’ extra-base hit and A.J. Pierzynski’s run-scoring double following Alex Rios’ one-out triple in the second.
Pierzynski had two hits, but his franchise record-tying streak of games with a home run ended at five straight.
This 10th win in the past 13 games for the White Sox and 13th win in the last 15 home games helped them maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over the Tigers in the American League Central, after the Tigers beat the Yankees, 7-2. The White Sox also moved to 12 over .500 for the first time at 60-48.
Their formula for success has been fairly simple: airtight defense, clutch hitting late and overall stingy pitching. A team once thought to have little margin for error now gives the opposition little margin for error to win games on a nightly basis.
“You need more than one guy, I know that,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who watched Addison Reed close out the victory for save No. 20. “Everybody needs to chip in, one way or another. When the bottom of the order does things, we usually win those games.”
Having Sale pitch as he did Monday doesn’t hurt the cause either. Now, the challenge for Sale is perform the same job on regular rest Sunday.
Sale is rapidly becoming one of the better defensive pitchers in the game. At least once a game he makes a play that many others would have missed or, in some cases (Hi, Randy Johnson) just ignored.
So here we sit in August with the Sox in first place and the Cubs giving the Astros a run for the #1 draft pick.
I do want to note one thing. Never in my wildest dreams did I see a dismantling like this coming. I figured the Cubs would keep Garza, Samardzija & Malholm and then live with rookies in the 4th and 5th slots. This is especially true since we are not talking about rebuilding in Pittsburgh or Kansas City here. Chicago is a major market city.
Really, you don’t have to take my word for it. Just Google “Chicago” and be impressed with all you find. There’s even a musical named after us.
By comparison the Sox are also rebuilding. They are living proof that it can be done on the fly with just the right mix of creativity and luck.
Follow us on Twitter!