With Tuesday night's loss, the Sox are now 3-10 in their last 13 home games. That's just a little bit concerning. After all, there were a number of critics this off-season who cited the Sox smallball approach as something that wouldn't work when you play half of your games in a band box. I'm not going to get my panties in a bunch about it, but it's something to watch of the next month or so.
Jon Garland had easily his worst outing of the season last night, giving up 7 earned runs in 6 innings pitched. He had a similarly poor outing last time he faced Toronto too.
He just wasn't sharp at all. His fastball, while still popping WCIUs gun at 92-94, had almost no movement on it. He hardly threw his change at all early in the game, and when he did, it was nowhere near the plate. About the best thing I can say about his outing was that he didn't get hurt.
Josh Towers, on the other hand, was brilliant. He reminded me a lot of this year's Garland with the way he pitched on the night. He was painting the black of both sides of the plate with tons of movement on his fastball, and a good breaking pitch. He wasn't unhittable, but he was in complete control from the second inning on.
[Right now, I'm really sorry that I spent part of my vacation discussing my shortcomings as a writer with an English teacher. I ended the last sentence in the previous paragraph with a dangling participle. Deal with it.]
Towers did appear to get a little bit of help early on from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. (No, not that Jeff Nelson.) For the first three innings, he appeared to have every close call go his way. Meanwhile, Garland, who admittedly was struggling with his command, was getting hung out to dry on the same pitches.
In the fourth inning, Towers' first pitch to Jermaine Dye appeared to be well below the zone, if not just a bit off the plate too, but it was called strike one. In my living room I cried out, "aw com'on blue, call a fair game." At the same time, Ozzie Guillen was voicing his displeasure with the strike zone too. He would get ejected from the game before another pitch was thrown.
Ozzie has a reputation for being a fiery manager. I can see how that has happened, with his never meeting a microphone he didn't like, but it's simply not the truth while the game is being played. Guillen has proven to have just the right knack for knowing when, and possibly more importantly, when not to argue with the umps. Tuesday night was a prime example.
Garland may have only missed out on one or two called strike opportunities due to differences in the strike zone, but Guillen was ready to protect both his hitters and his pitcher when it became clear that there may have been a difference in the way the zone was being called. It should be noted that the strike zone appeared, to me at least, to be equal for both sides the remainder of the game following Guillen's ejection. He really reminded me of Bobby Cox out there last night. Cox is well known for his ability to squeeze the most out of umpires, and send a message to his club that every game, every pitch, counts. It's no wonder that Guillen lists Cox as probably the greatest influence on him as a manager.
I'm sure Guillen's name will come up at the end of the year in Manager of the Year conversations, with good reason. Guiding a team that was picked to finish 4th to the division crown will do that for you. It's oh so easy to sit here behind my computer and criticize Ozzie for the mistakes he's made as a manager, but he often gets overlooked for all that he does do right.
Remember yesterday when I complained about the way the beanings in Baltimore were handled by the umpiring crew? Well it's time to commend a crew for how they handled a similar situation last night.
After A.J. Pierzynski and Jermaine Dye were hit back-to-back by different pitchers in the bottom of the 8th inning, Jon Adkins got his first taste of big league action this season by retaliating with a fastball at Russ Adams' hip. Both benches were immediately warned. Adams took his base. Adkins retired the next batter he faced to end the inning. And the game went on. That's how it's supposed to be.