After the Rain Comes a Rainbow
Record rain fell on Chicago Saturday, postponing the White Sox scheduled doubleheader with the Tigers. Rain fell all afternoon and night on Friday, postponing that scheduled game to after the end of the "regular season." Rain fell all morning and into the early afternoon on Sunday, delaying the start of game one of the doubleheader by 3 hours and 11 minutes. According to head groundskeeper Roger Bossard, US Cellular Field saw about 9.5 inches of rain during the 50 hour span when the ACE hardware tarp saw more TV time than actual players. To his credit, the playing condition of the field was not an issue even with the record-setting rains.
The sun never came out; there wasn't any parting of the clouds, or a rainbow straddling the stadium; but there was baseball to be played. And after two days cooped up in flooded northern Chicagoland, that was good enough for me. With the Twins dropping a game to the faltering Orioles, the Sox had an opportunity to take advantage and pick up the 1.5 games they lost in their last doubleheader effort. And take advantage they did.
Vazquez Victorious, Verlander Vanquished
The White Sox have an incredible record against Justin Verlander. For some reason, they just seem to have the Detroit ace's number. But for the first half of the opening game, it looked like Verlander might have the Sox number on this night. Thankfully, Javier Vazquez was there to match him pitch-for-pitch.
The offense seemed content to help Verlander out in the early going, making an inning's worth of outs on the basepaths. Juan Uribe singled home Ken Griffey Jr. after he hit a double off the wall to put the Sox on the board after 5. That might have been enough for Vazquez, who altered his side-session schedule to be ready to go on short rest Saturday, but the offense didn't stop there. Alexei Ramirez added a solo-shot. And in the 8th, after Vazquez had been lifted, the Sox strung together a 2-run, 2-out rally.
That 4-0 lead headed to the ninth gave Ozzie Guillen some flexibility. I thought it would be a good time to turn to Scott Linebrink for some easy late-inning work to continue to ease him back into higher leverage situations. But Guillen decided to turn to Bobby Jenks, who has been getting hit around lately. The two runs he allowed were essentially meaningless, but he still brought the tying run to the plate for the second straight time in a non-save situation.
Wise, Thornton Rescue Wobbly Pen
John Danks was originally scheduled to pitch on Friday. In fact, his start was pushed to Sunday because he had gotten warmed up Friday when it still appeared as if the game would be played. So Ozzie had to keep an eye on the 23-year old southpaw who has seemed to tire over the last month. Danks showed no ill-effects from the impromptu side-session, and probably would have gone deeper into the game if not for the lingering concerns about his workload and a seemingly comfortable 7-0 lead. That lead would prove to be much more precarious than it seemed when Danks left the game and especially after ESPN cut the Carlos Zambrano no-hitter.
With the exception of Matt Thornton, the bullpen has provided no relief lately. In addition to Jenks troubles which I touched on above; the lightning has escaped DJ Carrasco's bottle; Octavio Dotel has allowed 8 homers, including the game-tying grand slam Sunday night, since the All-Star break; Linebrink is understandably rusty, and probably not 100% after spending 2 months on the DL; Ehren Wasserman has sprinkled brief outings of effectiveness in between long periods of awful. I think it says a lot about the shape of the White Sox pen that Mike MacDougal, who spent nearly the entire season wasting away in Charlotte, might be the best available right-hander right now. So, when the Sox managed to blow a 7-run lead over the span of about 25 minutes, it's hard (read: impossible, to those who possess critical thinking ability) to blame Ozzie for the blowup.
As quickly as the Sox lead disappeared at the hands of a grand slam allowed by their bullpen, it was given back by a grand slam off the bat of Dewayne Wise off an equally bad Tigers pen (read: Kyle Farnsworth). Wise, who drove in a key insurance run while starting in LF of the first game, earned himself some more playing time in Konerko's absence with his day of work, culminating in his pinch-hit, eventual game-winning slam and curtain call.
The two victories, which lowered the White Sox Magic Number to 13 and increased their division lead over the Twins to 1.5 games, were the spoonful of sugar to wash down the medicine that is the alarmingly shaky bullpen. The Sox will need to rely heavily on the pen down the stretch, as they eventually plan on throwing some starters on short rest. It goes without saying that the pen can not continue to pitch this poorly if the Sox have hopes of holding off the Twins in the final 13 or 14 games (if necessary).
Meta (Moron Prevention)
We get it. The bullpen blew a lead. Therefore, Ozzie is an idiot. You have AOL--don't they all--and you seem to think it's your god-given right to use it as an avenue to vent your misdirected rage.
Thanks to an influx of, how do I say this nicely--ah, fuck, who cares about being nice--short-bus riding mouth-breathers, who think that the ability to complete the registration process and string together 75 words gives them poetic license to infect this site with their own special blend of ill-informed stupidity, I've implemented a 24-hour waiting period for all new posters. This obviously won't effect any of the regular users here, but it should help curb the mongoloids who wish to misdirect their anger towards Ozzie and other troll-types.