The Royals play somebody else tough, and the White Sox benefit

The Royals preserved three one-run leads in the ninth inning, even with Miguel Cabrera (blurry) at the plate.

Besides asking pitchers to classify their mistake pitches for accuracy's sake, one of the most valuable aspects of Twitter for a baseball blogger is reading other fans as they bitch about their teams.

As the season goes on, most of your team's problems become less special. "Why can't they hit these no-name soft-tossers ... they leave a lot of runners on third ... he always sticks with the starter one batter too long ..." and so forth. The failures tend leave a deeper imprint than the successes. That's why we have numbers. They might not always account for all aspects of timing that elevate the importance of certain no-shows and brain farts, but it erases most of the noise.

Here's an example:

Here's another: Look at the Kansas City Royals, who suddenly have become less special and more important over the last three days.

The Royals -- that plucky bunch of young talent that always plays the White Sox tougher than anybody else and turn Hawk Harrelson into meek-mannered "Ken" -- just swept the Detroit Tigers. As a result, the White Sox gained a half-game in the standings, even while losing three out of four in Baltimore.

Here's a case where the numbers could use some exposition, because when you look at the tale of the tape, the Tigers performed better while getting swept than their Chicago counterparts:

White Sox
vs. KC
Detroit
.184
AVG
.264
.216
OBP
.309
.316
SLG
.368
3
HR
2
8
R
9
6.00
ERA
4.50
2.04
WHIP
1.67
13
BB
8
21
K
16

But then you look at how the Tigers lost some of those games -- with their Cy Young and MVP candidate in the center of their failures -- and I think I'd rather watch the Sox losses. After all:

*The Tigers scored eight runs for Justin Verlander and still lost the opener because Verlander got rocked.

*The Tigers still had a chance to tie that game up in the ninth, with Cabrera at the plate and a runner who advanced to third on a wild pitch. Cabrera struck out on four Greg Holland sliders.

*The Tigers still almost took the lead in the ninth inning, but Delmon Young's reviewed line drive to the right field corner was ruled a foul ball, and not a three-run homer.

*The Tigers looked like they had tied the second game when Cabrera stroked a line drive to left center ... only to see Jarrod Dyson run it down with a tremendous diving catch.

*The Royals sealed the sweep when Cabrera grounded into a double play that even Paul Konerko might have beaten.

A couple of days ago, Socal515 asked why Konerko stopped hitting with runners in scoring position. Well, here we have Cabrera at the plate with a runner in scoring position in the ninth inning and Detroit trailing by one -- and he couldn't tie up any of those games. Familiarity breeds contempt, is all.

Really, a team's problems are seldom as special and wonderful and unique as they seem, even when the teams in question aren't that similar. The Sox and Tigers were constructed with different priorities -- the Sox's top-end talent can't match Detroit's, but the Tigers' defense is far more porous -- but they still often end up in the same place. That explains why these teams haven't been even four games apart since mid-May.

Of course, after getting swept by the Royals, the White Sox returned home and promptly swept a first-place team. Hopefully the season-long similarities will take a long Labor Day weekend off. I hear tubing is fun.

Star-divide

Postscript

Making these comparisons even more rich, the Tigers faced the same three Kansas City starters the White Sox did in their sweeps. Here's how they fared:

Luis Mendoza

Bruce Chen

Jeremy Guthrie

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