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This year's White Sox talking a better game, too

But will increased confidence in clubhouse make its way into the broadcast booth?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

A rainout in Minnesota on Sunday allowed the Tigers to line up its best two starters -- Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer -- for this two-game series against the White Sox.

When asked about the luck of the draw, Adam Eaton didn't turn it into pity party:

Now, it didn't look like a blast when Verlander struck him out with the go-ahead run on third to end the seventh inning ...


... but if the vibe that Daryl Van Schouwen described in his gamer has legs, Tuesday night's regrettable loss might not be all that crushing.

"We’re an optimistic club. That’s the best way I can put it,’’ said Beckham, who until last week had missed the promising start while at Class AA Birmingham recovering from an oblique strain that sidelined him at the end of spring training. "There is a lot of optimism with the team, with who we have on the team, with where we’re going in the future. Whether the future is now or later, I think we’re in a great position to do good things.’’ [...]

"We’re evolving,’’ executive vice president Ken Williams said. "We believe we have a very good, exciting, talented core coming through. We believe they can win, but when exactly a young team believes themselves they can win is something they’ll show us. We won’t tell them ‘you’re ready to win.’ They’ll show us, ‘OK, we’re ready to win.’ Right now we’re really just happy with the day-to-day effort they’re going about, putting their best foot forward every day.’’

While the results didn't bear out Eaton's forecast of "fun," I hope his sentiment is the prevailing one when the Sox face tough matchups, because the defeatism against certain pitchers -- from Joe Mays and Johan Santana to Bruce Chen and Verlander -- has been one of the more annoying subplots over the last decade.

I've never quite understood all the hand-wringing about the other guy's starter. There are some problems that every team's fans think is unique to them (an inability to hit rookie starters, for instance), but having spent plenty of time watching other teams' broadcasts and reading their blogs, it does seem like the White Sox' side dreads pitching probables far more than other teams. This is probably because Hawk Harrelson amplifies any feelings, and possibly well beyond an accurate representation of the clubhouse, but he's still the team's most prominent ambassador. Regardless of who's responsible for it, it's just never been a flattering feature for a group of ostensible competitors.

Besides, the Sox stand in against Verlander much better than they used to. He kicked White Sox ass from 2009 to 2012, going 12-1 with a 2.23 ERA. But they beat him up twice last year with the league's most pitiful offense, and though they've dropped both games against him this year, they've swung the bats well.

When you look at his lines from his last four starts against the Sox, it looks rather mortal:

Date Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
2013-07-09 L 4-11 GS-7 ,L 7.0 12 5 5 1 3 2 35
2013-07-25 L 4-7 GS-6 ,L 6.0 10 7 3 2 4 1 34
2014-04-22 W 8-6 GS-7 ,W 7.0 8 2 2 2 7 1 58
2014-04-29 W 4-3 GS-7 7.0 6 3 3 3 4 0 54

And although Scherzer induces more ugly swings, he hasn't been able to pitch beyond the sixth in any of his last four starts against the Sox.

Date Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
2013-08-13 L 3-4 GS-6 6.0 4 3 2 3 6 0 57
2013-09-09 L 1-5 GS-4 ,L 4.0 6 5 4 2 6 0 36
2013-09-20 W 12-5 GS-6 ,W 6.0 6 3 3 1 3 1 50
2014-04-24 W 7-4 GS-6 ,W 6.0 7 2 2 1 10 1 59

There's no doubt that Verlander and Scherzer are a difficult back-to-back matchup, but they -- and Harrelson -- shouldn't have much reason to talk down their chances. Hell, the Tigers' twin towers started seven games against the Sox in 2013, and the Sox won four of them. If last year's embarrassment factory could finish above .500 against two Cy Young winners, this year's team should like its chances against anybody.


One more note about Eaton -- I enjoyed his postgame interview. He did what he could to defend Dayan Viciedo's defense, and told kids to not try the bat snap at home.