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No more treading water, Sox crack .500

Javier Vazquez snapped the White Sox consecutive quality starts streak at 5 thanks to his propensity to be afraid of the strike zone. Vazquez clearly wasn't as sharp as he was during his first outing, but he battled through the jams he got himself into, saving his best pitches for when he needed them most. The two most damaging hits he allowed were jam-shot, opposite-field bloopers that set up the run scoring innings.

I'll take those results against a good hitting Cleveland team anytime I can get 'em, but you'd like to see Javy grow as a pitcher; learn to attack the zone more, chew up some more innings. Baby steps.

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Offensively, the top of the lineup was brutal (0-13 from the top three). And Fausto Carmona throws with his right hand. Shudder.

I know it's early, but Grinderstad's AVG/OBP/SLG have slipped to the area we all feared they'd end up (.207/.294/.310). He hasn't done anything since the first two games of the season, and has looked bad doing it, failing in 3 of his 4 chances to "do the little things" like move a runner over. (I meant to have a running tally of this type of stuff so that we could try to quantify grindertude, but I knew I wouldn't keep it up. So I didn't even start. Sorry. I only know now because I've been able to keep track in my head.) We've essentially been playing with '06 Brian Anderson (minus the upside) in CF for the last week.

Juan Uribe powered the Sox to an early lead. First with a 365 foot sac-fly after Tadahito Iguchi, who Hawk called "Tejada" as he stepped into the box, struck out swinging with nobody out and the bases loaded. He then went Profundo! with 2 on in the 4th to put the Sox up for good. He now leads the Sox in AVG, OPS, HR, & RBI.

Remember when the consensus among writers this winter was that the Sox needed to upgrade at SS, LF, and CF? At least we upgraded one of them.

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David Aardsma continues to be pleasant surprise in the bullpen. I wasn't expecting anything more than a back-of-the-bullpen project when he was acquired. But already he's shown the ability to wiggle out of some tough sitations. He entered in a tight spot again Friday and limited the damage nicely.

I happened to catch Neal Cotts, his counterpart in the off-season trade, on WGN this afternoon, and was surprised there as well. His control is as good or better than it ever was here, and he's reintroduced his changeup to his repertoire.

You'll remember that was the pitch that continually got him in trouble in '04. He dropped it in '05, and was suddenly very effective. Anyway he was locating it at the bottom of the zone where it couldn't hurt him, but could change the batters eye.

I also saw one loopy curveball dropped over for a strike at about 75MPH. He only threw a mid-80's pitch that I called a slurve while he was on the south side.

Prior to the '05 season, I was adamant that Cotts be sent to AAA to learn how to command his changeup. I thought that would be his key to success at the major league level. From what I saw today, admittedly based on only one outing, he's done just that. He'll be very effective this season if he can continue to duplicate the pitches he threw today in the same locations.

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Bobby Jenks, on the other hand, is going to be an adventure until he finally starts throwing in the mid-to-high 90's again. I'd be more worried if he didn't go through pretty much the same thing last season, albeit with more early-season success. But I fear his velocity will be a constant concern this season.

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I don't often do it, so I have to commend Ozzie for a well managed game. Well until the 9th inning anyway. He still didn't have his best outfield in the game, and it could have cost him. His handling of Vazquez and the pen, however, was spot-on perfect.