The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The White Sox rebounded from a pair of series losses and a lackluster doubleheader by returning to what they do best, hit homers.
AJ Pierzynski got things started with a solo-shot in the second to put the Sox up 1-0. That's were things stayed until the 5th.
Gavin Floyd wasn't particularly sharp. He couldn't throw his curveball for strikes. But he found his slider and was good enough to keep the Sox in what was a pitching duel for the first 4 innings. In the 5th inning, however, things got away from him.
Ichiro led off the inning with a routine groundball down the first base line. Paul Konerko had a bead on it, but it hit the top of the first base bag and bounced over his head. Konerko made a strong effort on the play, but he has the vertical leap of banana slug. With Ichiro, one the game's most efficient base-stealers, sitting on first in a 1-run game, Floyd became a bit preoccupied with the runner and forgot to focus on just getting outs.
The slide-stepping Floyd allowed a single to Jose Lopez on what we've come to know as a routine play with Joe Crede at third. But Wilson Betemit was manning the hot corner on this day. A still-distracted Floyd then gave up a deep fly double to General Soreness before finally reverting to his long windup and retiring the next three batters.
Floyd's stuff just isn't the same from the slide-step. In close games his best course of action might be showing a few different moves to first, varying his set time in the stretch, and going to the slide step sparingly; focus mainly on the guy in the batter's box.
The M's only stole one bag off Floyd, but they always seemed to be in his head; and perhaps the rest of the Sox. Brian Anderson and Alexei Ramirez teamed up for the one of the most frustrating innings in recent memory. They reached base consecutively, Anderson with a walk and Ramirez with a single. But both decided to make feeble steal attempts and be thrown out easily. Anderson's effort was particularly frustrating not just because of his small lead and poor jump, but because Alexei's seeing-eye-single through the right side could have put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Instead, no Sox runner got more than 85 feet past first base in the inning.
The Sox offense that started to get to get to Erik Bedard in the 5th but couldn't push across a run, finally broke through in the 6th. Wilson Betemit had his first meaningful hit of the season with an RBI double and Alexei added to his good day at the plate (2-2, BB, SF) with a sac fly to pull the Sox even.
That's when the Sox offense of old took hold. Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye teamed up to go back-to-back in the 7th. Quentin added an RBI single in the 8th to give Bobby Jenks a 3-run cushion and an easy save opportunity.
Roster in Flux
The Sox seem to have weathered an early injury bug with Jim Thome and Chris Getz on the bench, with both hopefully avoiding the DL. Thome is due to test his heel Thursday when the Sox will make a decision his status, and Getz should back in the lineup this weekend. But as those two come back, the Sox could be getting even thinner at the weakest position, center field.
Brian Anderson apparently tweaked his right oblique in his second at-bat, and was pulled from the game after fouling off a pitch in the 7th inning. Anderson was said to have been in "obvious discomfort" after the game, leaving the Sox with a series of poor options in center.
Jerry Owens would have figured to have been one of those options, but Owens seemed to make a special effort to shake his teammates hands as he was leaving the clubhouse with his bags in tow. The Sox will not make an official announcement about any roster moves until sometime on Friday, which should give the beat guys ample time to write their Scotty Pods profiles.
But Jayson Nix' return from the DL seems like a much more obvious option to me. Nix would seemingly allow the Sox to further hide Brent Lillibridge's not-ready-for-prime-time bat by shifting him to defensive replacement duties on the middle infield and replacing Owens as the 4th outfielder option in the outfield; all of which depends on a healthy Anderson. So unless you like the thought of a Lillibridge/Podsednik platoon, root for Anderson and the magical healing powers of Herm Schneider.
The USCF Pitch F/X speeds were inflated by a few MPH for the entire M's series.