It was another night of firsts Thursday at US Cellular Field.
- Joe Crede hit his first extra-base knock of the season.
- AJ Pierzynski and Rob Mackowiak each hit their first HR and recorded their first (real) RBI of the year. Previously, AJ had the walk-off HBP, but I hardly count that as an RBI.
- Jim Thome walked 5 times in a game for the first time in his career, tying a White Sox team record in the process. That's a month's worth of free passes for a number of current Sox.
- Bobby Jenks touched 95 MPH for the first time this season.
With the exception of a 2-0 fastball over the heart of the plate to Sammy Sosa, Javier Vazquez had little trouble dispatching the Rangers for the first 5 innings. Unlike last season, however, he was able to limit the damage after the 5th. In the 6th, He gave up a 2-out, run-scoring double that probably had many in attendance worried about a return of 6th Inning Javy. But he made quick work of Mark Teixeira to escape any further damage. Last season, it wasn't a question of whether he would give up the late inning run-scoring double, but how many.
Pitching into the 7th, Javy was pulled after giving up a deep Mackowiak-aided double to Sosa. In Mack's defense, if Podsednik was playing LF, the ball probably would have ricocheted off his head, Cansecoing into the bullpen to tie the game at 3. Two batters later, the run would score, giving Vazquez another no-decision. Mackowiak would later make up for his outfield gaffe by giving the Sox some much needed insurance runs with the aforementioned home run.
The relief behind Vazquez was better than you'd think of a group that had a blown save, let an inherited runner score, and allowed a run of their own. Andy Sisco gave up a tough luck double that didn't even plate Sosa from second. MacDougal then retired the first 3 batters he saw, for which he earned the blown save. Even Jenks, who has struggled to pitch above 93 all season, made quick work of things in the 9th.
Aside from Crede's double and go-ahead RBI, Jenks outing was the highlight of the night. He seemed to struggle mechanically to the first batter he faced, a 5 pitch walk. But after that, it was all business. He was comfortably sitting at 94 and hit 95 at least three times. Though, admittedly, I wasn't counting. Maybe Bobby really does need longer than most guys to get his arm back to full strength. I'd suggest that he start his throwing regimen 3 or 4 weeks earlier, but he broke down at the end of last season.
I couldn't be more disappointed with the way the Sox chose to attack Sammy Sosa. They almost made him appear like a major leaguer. It shouldn't be a surprise that the only starter to hold him in the yard was the one who chose to use both the inside and outside of the plate. Even Sammy can crush fastballs over the heart of the plate.
I'd like to dedicate the title of this post to Cubs fan and Bartman stalker, Eric Zorn.