When the Sox took the first game of this series with the Devil Rays in unimpressive fashion, there was some discussion about 'a win being a win.' Today's game proved that theory false. With the Sox headed to the 10th in a tie game, especially at home, Ozzie usually turns to his best reliever, Bobby Jenks. But because Tuesday's blowout ended with Jenks recording a save, and yesterday's game salvaged with an 8th inning rally and 9th inning save, Ozzie appeared reluctant to use Jenks for a third game in a row. The result was Brandon McCarthy pitching extremely high leverage innings with our best reliever safely tucked away munching on candy in the bullpen. I don't know if Jenks was absolutely unavailable, but Ozzie was clearly reluctant to use him in his normal usage pattern.
McCarthy made a couple of terrible pitches and killed the Sox opportunity for a sweep. The first was a 2-strike changeup to Carl Crawford. The location was decent, but because of the speed Crawford was able to hook the ball to be sure that Delmon Young got into third base. The second terrible pitch was also a 2-strike changeup; this one tailed back to the heart of the plate, and Jorge Cantu smoked it. McCarthy was working Cantu over on the inside corner with fastballs, looking for the double play. The changeup isn't a bad pitch in that situation, but it has to be down and away to get the strikeout. Up and over the heart of the plate is trouble.
What happened to Matt Thornton? He has just 1 strikeout in his last 12 innings pitched, dating back to July 28th. He obviously needs a better secondary pitch, but his fastball has always been enough to scrape by with almost a K per inning. Boone Logan should be here tomorrow, but that doesn't mean he will.
What more does Scott Podsednik have to do to get removed from the lineup? He reached base just once in the last 2 games, promptly getting caught stealing, and struck out 5 times. If Brian Anderson had a back-to-back games like that, he wouldn't see the lineup for a week. Ryan Sweeney can be here as early as tomorrow, but I suspect he'll play out the International League playoffs, and Guillen wouldn't use him over his speedy outmaker anyway.
In Podsednik's defense, he has some good company. Paul Konerko has looked just as bad at the plate in each of the last two games.
Overall, the White Sox missed out on a golden opportunity to really solidify their playoff chances. The Devil Rays were just 5 outs away from going two full calendar months without a road victory. That's right, the Rays win over the Sox is their first on the road since June 30th against he Nationals, and their first against an American League team since June 14th at Detriot. The Tigers are fading fast, and could have had their lead cut to just 3.5 games, the smallest since July 18th. Meanwhile, the Twins dropped a pair at KC, and head to NY for a 3-game series without Radke or Santana pitching.
The Sox need to take advantage of the weekend series in KC and grab themselves a working margin on the Wild Card and possibly put themselves back into the thick of the AL Central race.