The Sox rebound nicely after last night’s disaster and set themselves up for no worse than a split heading into the series finale. Alexei Ramirez and Jermaine Dye save the Sox offense with the help of some terrible CF defense by B.J. Upton. Even more unlikely then the Rays’ gaffes this series was the home run by Scott Podsednik. Carlos Torres kept the Sox in the game, and you can’t say enough about his effort. A quality start with 6 IP and 3 ER in his major league debut against a very good lineup comes up big, followed by D.J. Carrasco’s quick inning of holding down the Rays were part of a great effort in the win.
Ozzie Guillen had Matt Thornton go 2 innings to close out the game. I normally don’t like relievers being stretched out when not used to it, but it worked tonight. There can be a few different schools of thought towards not going to your closer tonight, but I have no problem with Jenks getting the night off. Jenks will get a chance to redeem himself, but returning to the scene of the crime too soon could’ve led to another meltdown. One thing that troubled me tonight was the performance of Jim Thome, who is now 0 for 9 since sitting in the series opener. At the time, Thome was red hot and coming off a ‘Player of the Week’ award. Even if he would’ve faced a lefty, you shouldn’t really mess with what’s working, especially when dealing with a future hall-of-famer.
The story of the night is Jim Thome. The big man had 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, and 11 total bases (EDIT: Thome had 8 total bases. I thought walks and advancing on the basepaths were included in that stat. I could’ve sworn an old box score I once looked at included both, but thanks to amick7 for the correction, looks like it’s just bases from hits) , and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy! The offense did its job and has really picked it up in July. This is a great sign considering Carlos Quentin has been out and should return soon. Scott Podsednik continues to be an amazing pickup, getting on base (5 times in 5 at-bats tonight) and setting the table for the big boys in the middle.
John Danks was a bit disappointing tonight. Danks works himself into trouble way too often with walks. Even if he gets out of the trouble, it hurts his pitch count, keeps him from going deep into games, and taxes the bullpen. Danks clearly has the stuff to be a great pitcher, which implies his problems are mental. As I said in one of my first blog entries, I HATE it when the bullpen has to start the 6th. Tonight was a little more understandble since Danks had thrown a lot of pitches and the bullpen just had four days off. The pitching staff gave up too many runs tonight, but let’s not discredit the Orioles. Offense is not Baltimore’s problem, They have a nice mix of young talent (with guys like Markakis and Jones) and veterans (like Roberts and Scott).
…Excuse me one second, Jim Thome’s grand slam just landed outside my window….
Back to Danks…tonight he gave up 2 leads very quickly. This is a good question for any fans of other teams that are reading: Do you feel like your pitchers often give up leads quickly (like the next half-inning)? I’m sure there’s a stat on giving up leads…I’ll have to find it. I’m just not sure if it’s a normal fan feeling (do those moments stick out since it’s such an annoying thing?) or if the Sox starters really do have a problem whenever the offense gets them a lead. Again, this could be another mental issue for pitchers. Most players who make it to the big leagues have the physical aspect down, but need to conquer the mental aspect of the game to succeed. Momentum also plays a big role, and shutting down the other team after scoring is a crucial point during a game.
One more Sox lowpoint: Dewayne Wise. Wise was 0-5 and had a terrible defensive play where he almost knocked himself out by running into the wall. Dewayne Wise, you are no Aaron Rowand.