It's not often that a game turns against a team immediately after they make a fine defensive play, but that's exactly what happened to the White Sox Friday night.
Bartolo Colon was well on his way to giving the Sox his second quality start when things started to fall apart. With two outs in the 6th inning and the Sox up 3, Pat Burrell grounded a ball in the hole between first and second. Chris Getz ranged far to his left on the outfield grass and made a great play to get to the ball. But when he quickly got to his feet, he looked towards third instead of coming up firing to first to get the stone-footed Burrell.
It was the second time this season Getz has made such a play. In the opening series against the Royals he fired home to hold a runner at third. On that occasion, it was hailed as a good play because that run didn't score. Today he wasn't so lucky.
Colon would go on to walk the next man, and get pulled for Matt Thornton. If Getz makes the play on Burrell, Colon probably starts the 7th with the Sox up 3 or more. Instead Thornton comes on to face a pinch-hiting Ben Zobrist, and in three pitches the Sox were behind.
I don't mean to pick on Getz, who had his second straight good game and has the Sox only legitimate run-scoring hit w/ RISP this series, because cleary (in the non-ironic sense) the bullpen, which needed 3 men to get one out in the 6th, was the goat of this game. It's just frustrating to think that he might have been able to make that play and prevent the 6th inning meltdown. I still haven't seen an angle that allows me to make a judgement on whether Getz would have been able to get Burrell at first base. It's an entirely different game if he makes that throw.
The loss echoes the losses of last May/June when Thornton and Scott Linebrink gave up walk-offs to these same Rays. Coincidentally, Thornton was walked-off by Gabe Gross, who was the scheduled batter tonight only to by pulled for Ben Zobrist.
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Colon has given the Sox every reason to be optimistic about their prospects to compete for the AL Central crown with fine outings in his firs two trips to the mound. Well, maybe as many reasons as possible while throwing only one pitch. Seriously, Colon threw all but one pitch Friday between 87 and 92 MPH.
He's a one-pitch pitcher, with a minuscule room for error. But in his first two outings, his control has been impeccable. I don't think the Sox can count on him to have that kind of control every time he takes the mound, but as long as he's healthy he should give the Sox a chance to win; which is probably the most they could have asked for when they signed him.
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I expected Alexei Ramirez to struggle at times this season, but I never would have predicted he would have me thinking that Brent Lillibridge might be a better option at the plate. I'm sure most of you know I'm no fan of Lillibridge as a major league batter, but Alexei has taken some of the ugliest cuts and undisciplined swings this season; the thought is not completely out of line, though it says more about what I think about Alexei's approach than Lillibridge's major league viability.
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Ozzie Guillen told Mark Gonzales that he's making a conscious effort to limit his starters' workload in the early season, which is something we took notice of last year.
"Early in the season, it doesn't matter who is on the mound," Guillen said before Friday night's game. "I'm not going to overuse them. You see Danks threw the ball well, but  pitches and he was out. We have to build those guys a little to make sure we keep them strong all summer."
Also from that notes column, Bobby Jenks says he's "saving" his curveball for later. After seeing what Bobby pulled out in the late season last year, it's not hard to believe.
As far as I'm concerned, it's not a terrible idea to stick with a mostly-fastball approach in lower-leverage saves. But Bobby, please, for the sake of our sanity, it's perfectly OK to bust out the curve if it's a 1-run game.