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Contreras & Castro Combine To Topple Tribe

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White Sox roll to season-high 5-game win streak, 2 games over .500

Hey, guys! Come look! Quick! I can see first place from up here!

Jose Contreras continued his surprising return with another strong 8-inning performance Wednesday night. He's gone 8 innings in all of his victories this season, all 3 of them. I kid.

The Sox are 3-2 in Contreras starts since his return from self-imposed AAA exile, with 4 quality starts and both losses coming by just one run. Contreras, like Floyd (and, to a lesser extent, Danks) has turned his season around. Suddenly the Sox look like serious contenders in the underwhelming AL Central. (We're all Tdogg, now)

A certain amount of credit has to go to Ramon Castro, who delivered the big blow at the plate tonight with a game-breaking 3-run HR. Contreras has thrived with him behind the plate, mostly because he has improved command of all his pitches. But there's still some credit that needs to be given to Castro, who boosted Jose's confidence with some encouraging words from Livan Hernandez, and maybe, just maybe, makes him beam with Cuban Pride simply by being named 'Castro.'

Jose Contreras' turnaround

Before Demotion 0-5 6 29.2 40 30 27 4 16 17 8.19 1.89
After Return 3-2 5 37.1 24 10 9 3 5 29 2.17 0.78
Total 3-7 11 67.0 64 40 36 7 21 46 4.84 1.27

If you were to graph the Sox season this year, the two previous high points would have fallen on May 1st and June 1st. They sat at 2-games over .500 and a half-game up on the division in the former, and had just completed their first sweep of the season en route to a then-season-high 4-game winning streak in the latter. So now that's it's July 1st and they've climbed back to within 3 games of the Tigers and have a now-season-high 5-game streak, I'm a bit wary of getting too excited.

Ozzie feels the same way.

"When Kenny asked me about it, I was honest about it," Guillen said. "I said, 'Well Kenny, you got to give me another week to be honest with you because right now I'm confused.' And I told you guys in the media, I'm confused. I don't hide anything, that's my problem. I'm confused. One day we play good, three days we play bad. Of course I have to be confused, we were like 10 games under .500, that's not a good team. Or we a good team playing real bad.

"Little by little, we've started to hit better, the kids start contributing a little bit more, and they take the heat away from the big boys when they start doing more. Then [John] Danks and Gavin [Floyd] and [Clayton] Richard are starting to contribute by pitching well. To have Jose [Contreras] come back and pitch the way he has, it's like we traded for somebody. The ballclub right now is great. How long are we going to be great? Hopefully from now until November. That's my goal.

It was a great series, and maybe the launching pad to a second-half run. But I'm still feeling a lot like I did following Jose's first start since coming back from AAA. Prove it.

You beat up on a down and out Indians team. Great. Go do it again against the Royals.

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Photo Gallery | Boxscore | TSN recap | Quentin on track for post-All-Star return | 'Missle' to sit out Thursday, X-Rays forthcoming