Another night, another poor offensive performance against a mediocre lefty. Tonight, his name was Odalis Perez, as if it even matters anymore. Friday's Hawkism regarding the Sox opposing pitcher was "He's not just a pitcher in the big leagues. He's a Big League pitcher."
The Sox somehow have a 4-4 record in games started by left-handers, with just one of those losses coming in a game started by someone not named Santana or Sabathia. But that respectable record speaks much more to the ability of the Sox pitching staff to keep them in low-scoring games than to the Sox offensive ability against left-handed pitching.
Jon Garland nearly matched Jose Conteras' complete game shutout of a day ago with one of his own, but poor outfield positioning and two well struck balls in the ninth forced him to settle for his best outing of the season at 8.1IP and 1ER. Matt Thornton and Bobby Jenks came in to slam the door, leaving the tying run sitting on second. Thornton seemed to have some more life on his fastball, as he made quick work of Mark Teahan. I was beginning to write him off as a one-year wonder.
For as solid as Garland's outing was, it would have been for naught if not for a Gaffe-anino by Tony Pena Jr. on an easy double play ball. (Grinderstad even makes would-be double plays productive.) Had Pena come up with the slow roller between his legs, the league's two worst offenses might still be holding their out-making contest.
I hate to keep harping on the offense, but when nobody questions Erstad (career .318 OBP vs. LHP, .131 OBP vs. LHP as a member of the White Sox) leading off agaisnt a lefty, and when Juan Uribe appears to be the only batter with a plan at the plate, you've got problems. Big problems.
In another example of the Sox being unable to do the "little things" Pablo Ozuna popped up a bunt attempt, then was thrown out at home later in the game on a sac fly (though I suppose if no run scored, it's not really a sac fly) using one of the worst slides I've ever seen. The throw from Teahan in right field came up the third base line, with John Buck catching it about 4 feet from home plate. Pablo has two options in that situation:
- Run over Buck. (Probably, not a good idea considering the disparity in size and weight.)
- Try to go around him with some sort of hook slide, touching home with your hand, or emulating Ryan Sweeney's slide from the Twins series.
Thankfully, they didn't need the cushion, and escaped with a W. There is a striking parallel between the offensively inept, pitching heavy, '07 and '05 teams, but at this point in the '05 season, the Sox had the best record in baseball as well as holding a (RS vs. RA) mark of (158 to 115) compared to (125 to 127) this season. One is a team with excellent pitching and a passable offense, the other is a team with good pitching, a terrible offense, and a mediocre won-loss record.