It's rare that you come away from a game impressed by the moves of the losing team's manager, but that's exactly what happened tonight. I haven't really bought into the hype that Jim Leyland is the reason that the Tiger have the best record in baseball, choosing instead to believe that it's the incredible pitching staff who should get most of the credit. The latter is still true, but after what I saw on Wednesday, I'm willing to give Leyland his fair share of credit for the turn around.
Leyland's quick hook of Zach Miner plays in stark contrast to Ozzie's continued need to leave his starters in through the 6th inning. It's OK to remove your pitcher early when he's not getting it done and there are better options in your pen. This is something Ozzie hasn't been willing to do this season, and it's cost the Sox some games.
The move that impressed me most was during the Podsednik at-bat. I saw Jamie Walker up in the pen prior to the AB, so I figured Leyland would just bring him in to face the lefty. When he didn't, I thought, 'Wow, smart move with Cintron due up next. Pods is going to bunt anyways. Why use your LOOGY in a situation like that?' As soon as Podsednik took strike two, I devilishly thought to myself 'bring in Walker,' but never thought Leyland would make the move. Sure enough he did, forcing Ozzie to switch batters. One pitch later he had the K.
I think I should complain about the offense more often. Joe Crede took a break from hitting pop-ups and delivered the Sox some much needed momentum with solo HRs in the second and seventh innings, after the Tigers had clawed their way back into the game off of Freddy Garcia.
Maybe even more encouraging than Crede's two shots was the approach of Juan Uribe at the plate. Simply put, Uribe has been the Sox most disappointing hitter this season -- That's tough to do in a lineup that includes Brian Anderson -- He's been one of the most undisciplined players in baseball this season, which is disappointing after he was the Sox most patient hitter in September and October last year. He seemed to be working the count more tonight, and even got himself a walk after failing to get down a bunt. Hopefully he can get himself back to his late-'05 ways.
The dangerous offensive tandem from the left side of our infield is the unheralded reason the White Sox were able to win it all last season. We'll need them both to be hot down the stretch if we have any post-season aspirations.
According to SportsCenter, Jim Thome, pulled from the game with a strained hamstring, will sit out tomorrow, but will be available Friday. Judging by Ozzie's kid gloves with Thome so far this season, I don't expect him back until later this weekend, but at least it doesn't sound too major.
I'll be interested to see what Freddy has to say after getting his second win in his last 14 starts against AL opponents. After all, it only took 7 runs from the offense and 3.2 innings of 2-hit ball from the Sox three best relievers to get him a victory.