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Sonnanstine Exposes Sox

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Hours before game time, upon hearing the news that Alexei Ramirez and Toby Hall would be in the starting lineup in place of Jermaine Dye and AJ Pierzynski, I wondered aloud where the White Sox offense would come from on Saturday.

I absolutely understand the need for both of them to have off-days. The bottom 3rd of the lineup just looks a whole lot uglier with them out.

The game is essentially shortened to 6 innings with three consecutive below replacement level hitters placed back-to-back-to-back. There's not much room for error.

Needless to say, the Sox did not play error-free baseball. The key gaffe came early, the second inning, after Mark Buehrle hit Jonny Gomes and subsequently appeared to have him picked off first base. The infielders -- I'm not going to assign blame, though Hawk and DJ seemed to agree that it was Juan Uribe's fault -- botched their second rundown in as many days, setting up what would prove to be the game-winning, 2-out rally. Three singles and 19 pitches (alot for a Buehrle meltdown) later, the Sox were down 3 runs, from which they would never recover.

Andy Sonnanstine had himself a resume builder, tossing 9 3-hit shutout innings, facing just 2 over the minimum. He just went right at the Sox and they couldn't do anything to stop him. They couldn't work their way on base; he was always ahead in the count. And more importantly, they couldn't do anything with the balls in the strike zone. Almost everything was hit softly, and generally on the ground. Heck, their first hit of the game was a bunt single by Orlando Cabrera. It was almost a 2-hitter.

Elephant in the Room

After being limited to just 3 hits, one of which was a bunt, by Sonnanstine on Saturday, the White Sox now rank 13th in the AL in batting average at .239, lower than they hit during the dismal '07 season, fractions of a percentage point away from the cellar (Cleveland at .239, or .2389). It has gone largely unnoticed thanks to good plate discipline and timely homeruns, but the Sox still aren't hitting.

The starting lineup today featured two batters with an average above .250, Nick Swisher and Joe Crede. That's not going to cut it, no matter how many walks they draw or how many homers they crank.