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Suicide is painless

The last White Sox victory over an AL opponent in which they scored 3 runs or less was May 24th. The Sox have recorded only 5 such victories this season, with 4 of them coming against the AL before Memorial Day. In other words, they've gone an entire summer without winning a pitcher's duel. -- I tried to make a chart comparing the run distribution of the '05 team vs. the '06 team, but I gave up. I couldn't find an easy way to import the data into spreadsheet form.

Now I would hardly call Monday's game with the Red Sox a pitcher's duel. Julian Tavarez is thug, not a pitcher. The White Sox offense was the only thing making him look good. In fact, they've made him look like a world beater this season. He's pitched 11.1 innings, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits, 5 strikeouts, and 0 walks against the White Sox.

As you can see from the chart at the right (blue dots are outs), the approach of the Sox hitters had a whole lot to do with Tavarez' success. Not a single ball that was hit in the air against Tavarez was recorded for an out. Nearly everything the Sox hit was pulled into the ground. There were only three balls that could be described as being hit to the opposite field; Thome's HR, and two groundouts.

The entire offense is in a funk. They're not 'taking their hits' as Hawk would say. They all can be beat with sliders, fastballs, and change-ups low and away because they're all trying to pull the ball. The results speak for themselves; not a lot of rallies, most of the scoring coming via the HR.

The worst offender may be AJ Pierzynski, and the difference can be displayed in his pre and post All-Star Game splits. Before the break he hit .320/.365/.444 with 6 HRs and 17 doubles as he used the whole field. In the second half, he's hitting .250/.280/.397 with 7 HRs and just 2 doubles in about 100 fewer at-bats. Pierzynski is just the example, the problem is becoming club-wide.

In addition to their inability to hit the ball any other way but on the ground, the Sox let the often erratic reliever off the hook by putting the ball in play quickly. Tavarez was making an emergency start for Curt Schilling, and was working on just 3 days rest, yet it appeared as if the Sox had no plan to make him run up his pitch count. Worst of all when he was able to get through the 6th inning on just 3 pitches. It would not be the last time of the evening that the Sox made 3 outs on 3 pitches.

Just two innings later, Jim Thome lead off by working a walk against Javier Lopez, who then needed just 3 pitches to get out of the inning. This inning was set up by a series of questionable decisions by Ozzie.

  • Jermaine Dye was pulled with a back injury in the 6th inning.
  • Ozzie replaced him in RF with Rob Mackowiak and batted him #3. This meant that of the Sox 1-6 hitters, only Paul Konerko has better numbers against LHP. This set up an opportunity for Terry Francona to grab multiple outs with the AAA LOOGY we sent them in exchange for David Riske.
  • Ozzie then pinch ran for Thome when he led off the 8th with a walk. With Thome's gimpy hamstring, this is obviously the right move, but Ozzie chose the wrong man to do it with. He ran Ryan Sweeney, presumably because he doesn't trust him to do anything else, and felt like he had to throw the kid a bone. But by using his back-up CFer to run for the DH, he was setting himself up for future failure.
  • After Jenks blew the save and with Boston's best righty remaining on the mound, Guillen pinch hit for Brian Anderson with Ross Gload. This meant that the Sox best CFer available was Mackowiak, and they would be using a Pods-Mack-Gload outfield in the bottom half of the inning.
If Ozzie had just pinch-run with Pablo Ozuna, which is pretty much all that he's good for, he would have had a much better defensive alignment available to him in the bottom of the 10th. The defense didn't matter much that inning, but it's just another example of Ozzie not using his players in the best way possible.