Alexei Ramirez is Grindy Enough for All of Us

On a day when the White Sox added an infusion of slow at the expense of their grindiest offensive force, it was Alexei Ramirez, the smartest baseballer since Yaz, who made two heads up plays with his feet to give the Sox a 13-inning victory over the Royals.

It wasn't pretty. In fact, I compared the back and forth action to a retarded kid punching one of those inflatable clowns only to get knocked over himself when the clown rebounded. The Sox won, so I'm not quite sure if they're the short-bus rider or the latex inflatable, but I'm not sure it matters. I'll take any win that puts the Sox 15 games over and at a new high-water mark for the season.

Jose Contreras had himself all sorts of troubles early on, and the extra-inning bullpen continued allowing baserunners like crazy. The poor Contreras outing put the Sox in a 4-1 hole early, and 5-3 deficit late, which the Sox offense was able to claw out of against the Royals bullpen.

The Sox bullpen began with 4 innings of 1-hit, no run ball from Boone Logan, Octavio Dotel, and Matt Thornton, which allowed the Sox to take a 11th inning lead. Actually, a variety of events helped the Sox take that lead; a favorable strikezone, a blown interference call, and a 2-run sacrifice fly to be exact. That's right, thanks to a collision on a wet outfield and the wheels of Alexei Ramirez, AJ Pierzynski got credit for the incredibly rare 2-run sacrifice fly.

There's really not much else to say about the play. AJ hit it far, Alexei ran fast, and the Sox scored two runs. It was as spectacular as a sacrifice fly can be, but it's still not exactly exciting to be writing about 90 minutes later.

Ramirez was once again in the middle of the Sox 13th inning rally, hitting a 1-out single and scoring the eventual game-winning run on what was effectively a hit-and-run (though I thought it was a straight steal live) by Orlando Cabrera.

The story of the game, however, will be Scott Linebrink's blown save. The outing sucked, and there's not much I can say to defend it. But I don't think his recent struggles--He's allowed a run in each of his last 4 outings--have anything to do with his recent change in role. From my view from the safety of my mother's basement, where I hear the media spread is much better than KC's, it has everything to do with a REALLY poor changeup and an inability to put hitters away.

Ozzie has said he'll turn to both Thornton and Dotel in the 9th if he needs them later this week, and I can't blame him. The other day, I said I would go with Thornton as my closer in Jenks' absence. But I hardly think Linebrink's return to Earth is anything worth getting worked up about. There's no closer controversy on the southside.

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