In what has already become something of a trend here in the early season, I'll open this recap with another It's Not 2007 Anymore type factoid. Today's: The White Sox 5-game winning streak is their longest since a similar 5-game streak August 10-14, 2006, which also included a 3-game sweep of Detroit.
That 5-game streak put the Sox 25 games over .500, and still 5.5 games back of the division leading Tigers, so I won't get too far ahead of myself here. Three games above .500 is a whole lot better than three games under, but even the '07 Sox managed to stay sufficiently afloat at four games over until Memorial Day.
When Tango came to us asking for help with his Clutch Project, I openly wondered how the rest of you would rate the post-surgery Joe Crede. There was little doubt in my mind that pre-surgery Crede would have been the player most SSSers wanted at the plate with the game on the line. A poor spring erased my optimism regarding Crede's return such that I voted him among the Sox hitters I wanted at the plate, though not necessarily the hitter; so I wondered how that spring effected the rest of you. Turns out Crede did end up being the Sox choice for Tango's Clutch Project.
Crede may have answered some of his doubters with a 2-out grand slam off of one of the toughest right-handed relievers in baseball for his second late-inning, go-ahead homer in a week.
In truth, Crede hasn't been swinging the bat well. His doubters, myself included, have noted Crede's lack of consistently hard contact thus far, including 8 pop-ups in the first 7 games. His at-bats certainly don't look like those of a batter who currently owns a 1.100 OPS. But we'll certainly take 'em. Being a supporter and a doubter is not mutually exclusive.
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I know Pierzynski isn't going to OPS 1.400 for the rest of the season, nor is Crede going to 1.100, or JD 1.250, or Q nearly 1.000. I also know that Paul Konerko and Jim Thome aren't going to perform as poorly over the whole season as they have to start the year. The additions of Swisher and Quentin have made a huge difference to the Sox lineup, as evidenced by their ability to score runs in bunches -- second straight game with a 5-run inning -- without the need to over-rely on Thome and Konerko.
Ozzie has said that he intends to leadoff Swisher "for the foreseeable future."
"You have a leadoff hitter who can run, that's a plus," Guillen said. "But to be a leadoff hitter, you've got to get on base. You can't steal first.
"I'd rather be a guy who gets on base. [Swisher is] hitting [.261] and all of a sudden he gets on base six times in a row by walks, and we need people on base when you have [ Orlando] Cabrera and [ Jim] Thome behind you. You get on base, you're going to score a lot of runs."
Sounds good to me. While batting Swisher first is unconventional, and might waste a bit of his slugging ability, it's certainly a step up from what we've had since Ray Durham left town. It also seems to indicate that he's looking at the Swisher-Quentin tandem as our longer-term starters in the outfield, even if Jerry Owens were to return fully healthy. And that's the biggest benefit of Swisher leading off; the lineup is far more likely to contain Carlos Quentin.
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On the mound, Javier Vazquez had something of a bizzaro-2006 outing. He struggled with command and looked to be just one pitch away from giving up a big inning in the early going, then retired the last 10 batters he faced with greatest of ease in the 5th, 6th, and 7th.