Trying to Out-Royal the Royals: Part Two

Second inning.  After Mark Grudzielanek throws the ball into left-field on an attempted force out at second base -- the Royals fourth error in two days -- the Sox have runners on second and third with nobody out.  Tadahito Iguchi grounds to third baseman Alex Gordon, who gets Rob Mackowiak in a rundown.  Mackowiak is eventually tagged out, but Iguchi makes his way to second base with Joe Crede on third.  Ryan Sweeney walks, bringing up Darin Erstad, who promptly does the same thing he did yesterday, hitting a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop Tony Pena.  This time, however, Pena actually catches the ball, turning the double play.

For the second night in a row, the Royals tried to give the Sox the game in the early going, and for the second night in a row, the Sox said, "No thanks."  Tonight, however, it looked like the Sox' early-squandaring was going to cost them a ballgame...

...that is until two outs in the ninth inning.  Joakim Soria, a 23-year-old rookie from Monclova, Mexico, got two quick outs on a flyout and a strikeout from Iguchi and Sweeney.  Erstad kept the inning alive by lining a basehit back up the middle, and Juan Uribe rocketed a double off of the wall in right -- a ball that hit the yellow line at the top of the fence -- scoring Erstad.  From there, the Sox just had to finish off KC's patchwork bullpen.  They did that the very next inning on a Jermaine Dye single, scoring pinch-runner Luis Terrero.

  • Mark Buehrle ran into trouble in one inning but was otherwise the Buehrle we've watched this year.  He didn't use his breaking ball very much tonight, but was effective with his cutter.  It seems to me like he's also pitching up in the zone more, getting guys to swing-and-miss at letter-high fastballs.
  • It took five relievers and a lot of Ozzie LaRussa-ing, but the Sox bullpen tossed four innings of shutout baseball, striking out four while only allowing three baserunners.  It's been particularly pleasant watching Boone Logan, who has gotten some very good left-handers (Justin Morneau, Mark Teahen) to take some ugly-looking swings.  He really has a great breaking ball working.
  • Uribe in the two hole -- yay or nay?  I don't really have an opinion on this yet, but I'd keep him there while he stays hot.  The past two days I feel like I've been watching 2004 Uribe, the one who hit the ball with authority to right field and ended up with a 107 OPS+ in over 500 at-bats.
  • Sweeney continues his fight to hold on to that left-field job permanently with a 1-for-2 (two walks) night at the plate.  Unless Sweeney has a brutal stretch of at-bats, I don't see how Ozzie can send him down next week when Thome returns.  Also, congratulations to Sweeney on his first big league home run.
Down on the Farm
  • Josh Fields is heating up at Charlotte, going 3-for-4 with two doubles in the Knights' 4-3 win over Norfolk.  He's now up to a .254/.358/.429 line.  Charlie Haeger is rebounding nicely from his rough April, tossing seven innings of two-run 'ball.  Toby Hall made his first appearance, going 0-for-3 with a walk.
  • Kris Honel tossed six scoreless innings in Birmingham's losing effort against Mississippi.  His ERA sits at 3.34 in just under 30 innings on the season.
  • Aaron Cunningham is scuffling after his hot start at Winston Salem, going 0-for-3 tonight.  His OPS, which was over .900 about a week ago, is now down to .851.
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