I was ready to lead with the following statement -- In their first 39 games, the White Sox had exactly one game in which they won by a margin of more than three runs; They've won each of their last two games in such fashion -- But Pablo Ozuna and the bullpen couldn't stand the sight of a blowout.
Mike MacDougal, called upon in the 8th with a 5-run lead, has now allowed 18 of the last 31 batters he's faced reach base. That's a Cottsian (about to be demoted by the Cubs) stretch of ineffectiveness.
After he had walked two batters, MacDougal got Shannon Stewart to ground a ball down to third base for what appeared to be the end of the inning. But Ozuna, playing third for the injured Joe Crede, charged the ball, fielding it as he stepped on the bag, then fired the ball to first where Stewart was safe by two steps. Replays showed that Ozuna had the ball in his glove while stepping on third, but it was a bang-bang play, and his charge and throw told the 3rd base umpire that Ozuna thought he needed to throw to first to get an out.
Boone Logan would allow a single from Nick Swisher to put the Sox back into a save situation before striking out Dan Johnson to end the threat. Bobby Jenks recorded his 14th save, most of which seem to be of the 3-run variety, but it didn't come easily.
Even though the Sox didn't get one of those wins that helps drag their pythagorean record back to respectability, the offense did their job for the second day in a row, pounding out a season high 14 hits just one day after recording a season high 10 runs. Even though they only had one extra-base hit, a ringing double by Jermaine Dye that set up their first run, they had three seperate innings where they were able to string together multiple hits to push across runs. That's a week's worth of scoring for the offense we saw in most of April and May. My optimism level is still guarded, but this offense is finally starting to show some signs of life.
I said yesterday that I was beginning to get worried about he bullpen. Thanks to my tunnel vision regarding the lack of offense, I'm probably late to the party on that one. Here's a spreadsheet of the bullpen's numbers since May 6th (I arbitrarily chose a date about 12-13 games ago). Only Jenks and Thornton have been effective during that stretch, and only Thornton and Logan are consistently throwing strikes.
I just hope they can turn it around fast. It would be painful to finally get good offensive support only to have the bullpen blow it night after night.