The 2005 White Sox finished the first half with a whimper, getting swept at home by the Oakland A's. The series was marked by lack of fundamentals, specifically Willie Harris failing to get a bunt down, a poor pitching performance by Mark Buehrle, and an extra inning comeback that wasn't. They finished the first half with 57 wins.
The 2006 White Sox appeared to be paralleling that storyline this weekend, this time with a sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. This time, however, Jermaine Dye and the bullpen wouldn't let them finish on a down note, propelling the White Sox to a late-inning victory and... their 57th win.
Jose Contreras was just two strikes away from losing his 'winning streak' -- which probably should be called a 'not-losing' streak since he hasn't really been winning lately, just not-losing -- but Jermaine Dye's HR off the nearly impossible to score off of Jonathan Papelbon saved the day. Dye would save the Sox and Bobby Jenks again in the 11th with a run scoring double that also set up the Sox with a great chance to win it.
Many of you were questioning Ozzie Guillen's 'overmanaging' in the gamethread, specifically about lifting Konerko and Thome. But I thought it should be pointed out that this game was a contest of who would blink first, which manager would be the first to turn to his totally unreliable 6th man in the pen. Ozzie overmanaged using starter Javier Vazquez early in extras with 3 members of his pen still available, allowing him to hold off on waving white flag Politte any earlier than he had to. The White Sox don't win this game if Cliff Politte is asked to get any more than three outs.
The hero from the bullpen has to be Brandon McCarthy. He pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, using his changeup effectively to keep the Red Sox hitters off balance. Let's hope he keeps this outing in his memory banks, and uses that changeup for the entire second half, not just every few outings like he did in the first.
When Tadahito Iguchi finally hit the game-winning single in the 19th, my initial reaction wasn't excitement; it was relief. If they played for over 6 hours only to record another loss and a sweep, I can only imagine the comments I would have to wade through for the next 4 days.