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Pablo Ozuna gets by with magic pixie dust

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White Sox fans gave Frank Thomas a resounding ovation that proved much to his liking. One constant with Frank over the years is that he plays his best when he's got something to prove. He needs a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to play at his highest level. Wearing white cleats in USCF and the presence of Kenny Williams in the building proved to be a big enough chip.

Thomas took Jon Garland deep in his first at-bat to more cheers from the USCF crowd. When Bobby Crosby homered right behind him, however, the fans made known it was Frank, not the Athletics, they were cheering for with a chorus of boos. Though I suppose those may have been directed at Garland. Whatever the case, the contrast made the fans tribute to Thomas all the more evident.

In his subsequent at-bats, the fans increasingly less kind to Frank. I think they may have given him a great round of applause each time if he struck out in each appearance, but by the time he came up for a 4th time, with his 3-3 and 2HR in tow, he was, understandably, seen as the enemy.

Game Notes:

  • Ozzie Guillen was tossed from the game by Doug Eddings for arguing balls and strikes. Guillen had gone out to talk to Garland after he appeared to be getting squeezed a little bit and had just given up 2 HR and an almost-HR-double. Eddings came out to break up the conference, which I imagined went something like this:

    Eddings: All right guys. Let's break it up
    Guillen: Hey, I wouldn't be out here if you knew what a strike was.
    Eddings: Oh yeah? Well, you're outta here.
    Guillen: I'm outta here? Don't make me turn Joey Cora loose on you.

    Ozzie did the right thing. Garland hit practically the same spot on 4 consecutive pitches to Frank, and they were called differently. By getting run in that situation, he backed up his pitcher, and hopefully instilled a little more confidence in him.

  • The last time Guillen was thrown out of a game, it seemed to me like Tim Raines over-managed. This time, Raines was at first base, so I assume it was Harold Baines with the final say. I know Ozzie is in the clubhouse a phone call away, but I've always pictured him as a guy who trusts his guys to make the right decisions. So I'm going to give Baines the credit for making some fine managerial decisions.
    • Swapping Widger and Pierzynski when Zito was chased. AJ rewarded him by gunning down a key runner in the 9th, and taking a increasingly more commonplace walk against a lefty. (AJ didn't walk against a lefty all last season. Tonight was his third against lefties this season)
    • Pinch hitting Rob Mackowiak, who would hit the game-tying HR. One that I called, by the way.
    • Sticking with Thornton against righties because he appeared to have good command.
    • Pitching Bobby Jenks for multiple innings
    There was one decision that I didn't agree with, however. When the Sox tied it up, and with Zito no longer on the mound, I thought you had to put your best defense out there with Podsednik, who also happens to be a better hitter than Ozuna, despite what their current lines say.
  • Of course, that shows what I know, as Pablo Ozuna was once again the hero. He now has 2 walk-off hits this season; one that he hit so hard that he was able to stare it down all the way into the stands, and tonight's 65 footer that he tapped down the first base line.

    When Mackowiak singled just ahead of him, I was willing Pierzynski to get into third. Normally being at 3rd base in that situation doesn't matter a whole lot, but with Ozuna at the plate, I knew there was a good chance of an infield hit. I still didn't expect the push-bunt, though. According to Ozzie, that was entirely Ozuna's decision. It's the type of play that either makes you the Hero or the Goat. Thankfully, tonight, Ozuna brought his pixie dust.