In which we celebrate the White Sox ascension to .500
Gavin Floyd breezed through 6 innings Monday, using just 63 pitches and allowing only 3 baserunners, two of which were wiped out on double plays. His domination of the Indians over that span was so complete, so swift, there's almost nothing to write about it. He was good, damn good.
And then with 2 out in the 7th, he got a tad wild. He missed with a 2-2 curveball to Shin-Soo Choo, walked him on the next pitch, gave up a an otherwise innocuous single to bring the go-ahead to the pate, and then made things really interesting by walking the tying run into scoring position to set up what was the game-defining play.
Ryan Garko hit a dribbler that was headed foul down the first base line. Floyd rushed to the ball , scooped it into his glove as it was over the foul line and quickly flipped it to first for the apparent third out. But the home plate umpire immediately ruled it a foul ball.
Paul Konerko and Ozzie Guillen urgently called for him to get help from the other umpires, including one of only two umpires worthy of a tag here at SSS, Phil Cuzzi, who was manning first base. After a conference of a minute or so, Cuzzi saved the Sox -- he owed us one -- overturning the call.
Gavin Floyd's Rollercoaster Season
|First 8 Games||2-4||0||0||44.1||60||39||38||6||23||35||7.71||1.87|
|Last 8 Games||4-1||1||0||58.1||38||12||9||2||15||46||1.39||0.91|
There's not much else to say about Floyd's turnaround outside of the numbers. He's not really doing anything that differently. He's generally found the release point on his back-door breaker to neutralize lefties, and he's seemed to get ahead of far more batters thanks to some improved fastball control. But he's still got essentially the same repertoire, the same approach. It's just that he's finally executing about as well as you can expect him to.
I have no idea what Ozzie was doing in the 9th inning. Matt Thornton, who entered with 2 outs and the tying run at the plate in the 8th, needed just one pitch to send the Sox back up to the plate. And then Chris Perez happened.
Perez was making his first appearance in an Indians uniform and was perhaps a tad nervous, and maybe Victor Martinez completely underestimated Perez' ability to throw a slider anywhere other than the right-handed batter's box. It was clear there was no intent to his back-to-back hit batters, both of which were up and in, the first knocking Alexei Ramirez silly, as he ducked into a slider that didn't slide and took one in the helmet just above the ear hole. (Ramirez is supposedly fine and expects to play tomorrow.) Although Perez didn't hit another batter after his first two meat-seekers, he stuck around long enough to throw another wild pitch and allow 4 runs to cross home on just 2 hits.
So when the Sox headed to the bottom of the ninth up 6 runs, and with plenty of time to warm up a pitcher thanks to Perez' wildness and an Indians pitching change, you would have expected Ozzie to call on one of his back-of-the-bullpen arms, maybe Poreda or Carrasco. But since Thornton had thrown only one pitch and had the opportunity to earn the cheap 4-out save with a 6-run cushion, Thornton was a completely defensible option. Sure enough, Ozzie ran Thornton back out there in the ninth, but inexplicably pulled him one out short of the save. Thornton had allowed a HR and a single, but still had a 5-run lead and needed just one more out.
So who does Ozzie turn to needing only 1 out in a 5 run game? Octavio Dotel, of course. And when Dotel gave up a HR to the first batter he faced to pull the Indians within 3, he got Bobby Jenks up in the bullpen. So for those keeping track, that's all three of the high leverage non-Linebrink arms used (in one form or another) in a game in which they had a 6-run lead headed to the bottom of the 9th. That's not a good way to preserve your high leverage arms.
On the savior
Gordon Beckham had himself a game. He was the only Sox batter to reach base between the 3rd and 8th innings, and would have been the centerpiece of this entry if not for the wild 9th inning. In addition to a 3-3, 2 RBI, BB day at the plate and his first career stolen base, Beckham added a couple of fine defensive plays; one a hard charging throw across his body on a bunt that he fielded about 25 feet from home and the other a charging (see a pattern here?) throw to second after a make-your-own-hop type play just inside the cutout of the grass at third. The latter was one of the first times Beckham has looked like a natural third baseman. Earlier this year he would have sat back on that ball and would have only had the opportunity for the play at first.
The kid had a good day, even if he does slide into second base like a lawn dart.