High winds damaged part of US Cellular Field in the early morning hours Wednesday. Perhaps that should have been a sign what was to come later in the day.
With the winds continuing to gust into the 40's and two sinkerballers on the hill, the conditions were ripe for an offensive affair. Home plate umpire Larry Vanover added to that with a tight strike zone that had both catchers complaining by the end of the first inning. Predictably, neither starter was very effective, and the game came down to a battle of the bullpens, which the Indians won easily, allowing just 1 hit over 4 innings of work.
On to some game notes...
- Tadahito Iguchi, who had homered earlier in the game and who was moved down in the order "so he could drive in more runs," batted 8th (a well-known RBI slot) was asked to get a bunt down with a man on second and nobody out in the 8th. The Sox would fail to score in the inning.
- David Aardsma was beyond impressive. He entered the game looking to limit the damage with the bases loaded, nobody out and the Sox already down a run. All he did was throw his first 12 pitches at a postage stamp on the outside corner to strike out the side. He then struck out the first two batters he faced in the next inning, striking out 5 batters in just 21 pitches. He lost his pinpoint control after giving up a double to Trot Nixon and being asked to intentionally walk Travis Hafner, but got a groundout to give the Sox a golden opportunity in the 9th.
- Aardsma wasn't the only Sox reliever to breeze through the first few batters faced. Mike MacDougal struck out the first 4 batters he faced, but Larry Vanover, who had a very tight zone all game, didn't agree with Mac's first punchout, issuing a walk instead. Mac's effectiveness ended with a 4-pitch walk to Andy Marte, which would prove quite costly when Grady Sizemore took the first pitch from Matt Thornton over the right field wall to put the Indians up for good.
- Joe Borowski looked just as bad as he did on Monday, if not worse. The Sox hitters just helped him out. He got both Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome to strike out on a slider that Hawk and DJ thought might have caught them by surprise because of its lack of movement. Whatever it was, he was behind almost every hitter he faced and struggled to break 90 on the gun. If the Sox get their collective head out of their butts, I'll enjoy seeing him come into the game in the 9th inning.
- JD just looks April-of-'05 bad, which would be fine if we could get April-of-'05 starts from our pitchers.
- Darin Erstad has done just about everything you could ask of him in his first two games in a White Sox uniform. Unfortunately, he's been productive from the position of CF. Meanwhile, Scott Podsednik got thrown out by Victor Martinez and went 0-4 at the plate. It's not like Podsendik had much value to the Sox entering the season, but if he can't even steal against Victor Martinez, he's utterly useless. The Erstad-Anderson-Dye outfield alignment can't get here soon enough.
- 2 games into the season, Ozzie has already called for 4 intentional walks. The Sox led the AL with 59 IBB in '06, 21 IBB above the AL average. Next to his fascination with gritty, light hitting speedsters, this is easily his biggest weakness as a manager. He can't continue to manage a team that scores a majority of it's runs via the HR like it's the late innings of a National League game in 1983.