The majority of the credit for this win has to go to the bullpen. Coming off a home stand in which they completely shut out the opposition over 12 innings, the White Sox bullpen was handed a one run deficit after 6 and held 'em right there through 12 to run their scoreless streak to 18 innings.
Octavio Dotel, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, Nick Masset, Boone Logan, and Bobby Jenks (in that order) combined to hold the Indians to just 3 hits (2 in the 12th) and 2 walks while striking out 9 in their 6 innings of work. I was a bit upset that Jenks wasn't used earlier in the game, but if you've got a group whose collective ERA is in the twos I suppose they're all good enough for high-leverage work.
Javier Vazquez had a tough night, yet still managed to make it through 6 innings allowing only 3 runs. He was just the second Sox starter this season to allow 2 HR in a game, with the other being Mark Buehrle on Opening Day. For reference, the Sox were 6-25 in such games last season, and have averaged 33 such starts a season, with extremes of 28 and 46. At only two 2-HR starts in their first 51 starts, the home run suppression of the current staff has been simply amazing.
Offensively, it was the top of the order providing most of the punch. The 1-2-3 hitters went 9-17 with a walk and factored into 5 of the 6 runs scored on the night.
Orlando Cabrera seems to be finding his stroke. He had a 4-6 night, hit a couple of nice balls to right field, and finally showed that doubles stroke that he had working in Anaheim. His double in the 7th set up the game tying run which allowed to the Sox to win the battle of attrition between two struggling offenses and one streaking bullpen. It wasn't all rosy for Cabrera however...
OC on the basepaths
Entering the season, I was under the impression that Orlando Cabrera was a good baserunner, which was reinforced by Bill James listing him at +141 from 2002-2007. But my own observations of OC this season, including Sunday's Should I Or Shouldn't I triple, the rundown in the 12th and the non-advancement on the basespaths in the 1st inning, seem to run counter to that. So I headed on over to Bill James Online to take a closer look at the numbers.
Nearly two-thirds (+89) of Cabrera's +141 came from his ability to be highly efficient on his stolen base attempts. (An explanation of James' baserunning numbers is available in PDF form here.) That's not to diminish his obvious skill in that area, as Cabrera again continues to be highly efficient this season with 7 stolen bases against just one caught stealing. But for a player with above-average speed who also excels at stealing bases efficiently, Cabrera seems to be a surprisingly pedestrian, and at times downright stupid, once the ball is in play.
The numbers tend to back this up. The +52 (on non-stolen base baserunning plays) from 2002-2007 would seem to indicate that Cabrera is about a +9 true talent baserunner, but fully half of that positive baserunning (+26) came last season. In fact, from 2004-2006 Cabrera was -2 on the bases (not including stolen bases). It seems that Cabrera had a career season in more ways than one last year.
Other game notes:
- Jenks recorded his 100th career save, tying him with Keith Foulke for 3rd on the White Sox career list.
Late in the game, Alexei Ramirez had what appeared to be a favorable matchup with a primarily fastball pitcher in Rafael Betancourt on the mound, but looked terrible when he was unable to make contact on a hit-and-run which resulted in Crede being thrown out at 2nd. He struck out on 4 pitches in what might have been the ugliest at-bat of the night.
For as bad as Ramirez looked on the hit and run, he made up for it with a great fake bunt, butcher boy sprayed into right field against a drawn-in infield during the Sox game-winning rally.