There's not much of a better way to wake up than seeing the greatest hitter in White Sox history honored before a very important game versus probably the most formidable opponent this year to date. After the beating the Sox handed Burnett on Friday, and the offensive outburst that gave us glimmers of hope yesterday, the series looked eminently winnable. However, the pale hose offense had woes of their own today, briefly taking the focus off the bullpen (yes, it is broken, and you read that on the front page), and plating only one run in a few key missed opportunities.
Floyd didn't bring his best stuff today, but it was surely enough to keep the White Sox in the game. A mistake pitch lead to a home run by Thames in the 2nd and a lead-off double by Cervelli and a single off the bat of Gardner in the 3rd accounted for the two runs allowed. Later, in the 5th, Gavin brought the balls into play, striking out Jeter on a quality curveball to end the inning with Gardner standing on second. Defensively, Alexei made a fantastic stop of a ball hit by Nunez down the middle, flipping to a barehanded Beckham to turn the double play in the second, and Beckham was in perfect position to field a Jeter line drive, doubling off Gardner an inning later. Large innings avoided.
On the other side of the contest, Nova looked very good results-wise. He relied on a steady offering of fastballs and curveballs, keeping the Sox off balance. Actually, Gameday showed those two pitches being used exclusively, with a lone changeup mixed in, through his entire outing. Juan Pierre played a good Juan Pierre for a moment, driving in Bacon from second with a Juan Pierre single to right in the 5th to cut the lead down to one. Juan Pierre also stole his 51st base, but Omar was just a little bit too much Vizquel, as he struck out to end the mini rally.
After Nova departed with two outs and Konerko on first our old friend Boone Logan came on, quickly gave up a hit, and handed the ball over to Kerry Wood. As much as I would have loved to write that Logan and Wood killed the Yankees today, it's more true that, after Wood threw a wild pitch and walked Alexei(!), Teahen pooped on my dreams. He tried to do too much with a fastball up in the zone and meekly grounded to first. No big inning there, either.
The battle of the bullpens was one of lowered expectations. Sale continues to impress, sending Gardner down swinging to end the 8th, stranding two. Jenks was again tasked to pitch more than one inning, and in a high leverage spot to boot. Bobby made it interesting, of course, with a throwing error to load the bases, but Vizquel fed a grounder to Beckham in the nick of time to end the threat.
Then there was the bottom of the 9th. Lillibridge made the first out, pinch-running for Konerko and attempting to steal second. What is there to say? I understand Ozzie not wanting to depend on Jones to get him over, but it's Ozzie's shit rooster in the first place. AJ has been pretty hot in August, and Ramirez has been known to do some damage. I would have put my eggs in that basket rather than risking another out on the basepaths while down by one. But Ozzie is Ozzie, hindsight is a dish best served cold, and the Sox couldn't tie it up. It happens.
It's getting later and later, and as gratifying as a win today would have been to preface the Twins shortcomings in Seattle, I doubt there are many of us that would have actually expected a series win. The Sox made it an interesting three games, no doubt, but interesting is not the end goal. Let's hope the Sox take their starting pitching and offensive talents to the shores of Lake Erie, and the Twins fall flat on their face during their upcoming nine-game homestand. Now that would be interesting.