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Fifth Starter Freddy and his amazing 87MPH Heater

The only thing more frustrating than sitting through a Freddy Garcia pitched game is watching Ozzie give him entirely too much rope late in a still-winnable game. -- I take that back. Scott Podsednik in the outfield might be more frustrating. -- There was nothing that Freddy did in the first 6 innings of 3-run, 8-hit ball, that should have instilled enough confidence in Ozzie to justify leaving Freddy in the game after the first two batters in the 7th smoked the ball.

Freddy speaks spanish too, so Ozzie can't claim that anything was lost in translation when he decided to stick with Freddy even after the third batter of the inning hit a screaming double to stretch the lead to two and draw Ozzie to the mound for a meeting. No, Ozzie left him out there to induce a groundout, and with the incredibly dangerous Shane Costa coming to the plate, called for the intentional base on balls.

Here's a quick guide for you Ozzie: If you don't have enough faith in your starting pitcher's ability to get Shane Freakin' Costa out, you don't leave him in the game. Sure enough, the next batter, the newly unblocked Ryan Shealy, drove in a run, removing Freddy and effectively any chance of a Sox victory. Shealy will be sad to see the junkballing Garcia leave town, as he finished 3-3 with a walk, which brings up another question. Why was Ozzie calling for the IBB to get to a guy who obviously was not fooled by Freddy's arsenal of hanging sliders?

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What happened to Neal Cotts? -- Neal had a slow start to the season this year, but seemed to be rounding into '05 form at the beginning of July. His K-rate was climbing. His hit rate was falling. He appeared to be an integral part to the back-end of the Sox pen. Since July 14th, however, he's been brutal. Including tonight:

7IP 14H 4BB 5K
And most of the time he's been called on with runners on base. So even though his ERA remains respectable at 3.30, it doesn't begin to reflect the damage he has caused in terms of inherited runners scoring. BP lists him at -2.4 in the inherited runs prevented department. Just a couple of weeks ago he was in positive territory, meaning he was stranding more runners than the average reliever. With a decision to be made about Hermanson tomorrow, maybe it would be wise to let Neal have some quality time with Mr. Logan in Charlotte. He does have options remaining.

I'm just frustrated. I don't think there's any chance of Dustin Hermanson contributing usefully to any contending team this season. I doubt he will ever pitch effectively again at the major league level.

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The White Sox could have come away from this 6-game stretch on a roll, a little closer in the divison, and atop the wild card. Each game was winnable, and would have been won by the '05 team. But this team found a way to lose two of them, and made the others more difficult than they needed to be.

Think about this: The Sox just took 4 of 6 on the road, and are farther out of the Wild Card race today than they were after dropping three straight to the Twins last week. They have to capitalize on these weak opponents. After all, it's not like they have a division full of tough lefties or Doc Halladay on the mound for their next contest.

The wild card is going to be an incredibly tough fight, a fight the Sox can't win without all five starters throwing well. Mark Buehrle took a step in the right direction yesterday. If I was Freddy, I would take a look at the bottom of my shoe. I think he stepped in something.

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Update [2006-8-3 0:18:11 by The Cheat]: Tarp off the field. C'mon Sox! Make me look like an idiot.