By winning 5 games on this west coast swing, the Sox have already guaranteed themselves a winning record with two games remaining. Last week, I predicted they would have a winning record on the trip at 5-4 after they lost to Felix Hernandez in the opening game. They played well in Seattle, earning two victories, and then went into Anaheim without having to face Dan Haren or Jered Weaver. The Sox pounded the Angels in the opener, and then after a dud of a game on Tuesday, came back late to win on Wednesday.
The pitching has been very good since even before this nice road trip. In the entire month of May, they have only given up 4 runs in a game 3 times. With that kind of pitching, all they needed was the offense to provide just a little bit of punch to shake off the early season dull drums, and the Sox started hitting on this trip.
Last night, the ball even started to bounce the Sox way. None of the hits in the 2nd inning were hit very hard vs. Brandon McCarthy, but they found the right spots (a couple of walks and an errant pickoff throw also helped). Couple that with Oakland shooting themselves in the foot on the base paths and great bullpen work out of Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos and they stole one in a place where we are the ones usually getting mugged.
Speaking of Santos, the guy has been amazing. He picked up his first 2 wins of the season this past week and added another save last night. Over his last 3 appearances (covering 5 innings), big Serg is 2-0 with a save and has allowed 3 base runners (2 BB's, 1 hit), while striking out 6. He has not been scored upon in all 18 innings of work this year and has a WHIP of 0.83.
Santos' dominance at the end of games has allowed the other relievers to fall in line. The entire bullpen is now doing a nice job. Matt Thornton has even shown signs of breaking out of his slumber now that he is back in his normal role. Tdogg posted a bunch of stats in last nights game recap of how good they've been in May. He was using Fip,Fap, Flop and all of those other fancy stats I avoid, so feel free to go back and peruse them. The old eye test shows they are coming around and that is good enough for me.
It's time to let Omar Vizquel handle the third base work half of the time. Old Man River is now hitting .324/.350/.405 this year, which is far better than Mark Teahen, who has plummeted back to earth at .226/.317/.321. Brent Morel is at .222/.231/.278, but if he is up here he needs to get at bats so I'd pick my match-ups carefully with him.
It may be safe for you to go purchase that Adam Dunn jersey now, as it looks like he's starting to wake up from his long winters nap. Dunn is up to .205/.338/.375, which isn't good, but it is a lot better than where he was. I expect a big home stand from him next week.
Philip Humber continues to impress, and now that Jake Peavy is healthy, the Sox have the first ever official 6 man rotation. I'm not sure I like it, but all of the pitchers have been on point lately, so I guess we'll roll with it. No need to tamper with success. Although this may hurt you Fantasy players out there who selected some White Sox pitchers as they will now be losing starts.
I was at the Cell last evening for a function, and saw the All Star ballots. I still think its a little early, but it got me thinking who will represent us at the game in Arizona. Carlos Quentin had the hot start which sticks in people's heads when they are making these decisions, Paul Konerko has been so solid throughout the season he has to get major consideration, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber have been very solid, Santos has been lights out like the clapper and maybe you can throw Alexei Ramirez into the conversation since he's been pretty good. I highly doubt the Sox will get more than 2 though, so my early picks are Konerko and Santos.
I expect big things this upcoming home stand. It may start out a little sluggish vs. a Rangers team that always has given us trouble. Then it is time to show Cleveland again who is the boss of this division. Los Angeles comes in after the Tribe, and everyone knows how the Sox love playing the National League. Lets take the last two out in Oakland before all of that though.