Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 8:54 p.m Updated: 10:25 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.When a stray loss or two start to string together into a streak, most managers start to grip the managerial hot seat and start to snap back at even the simplest and kindest of questions.
For consummately chill Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen? Its a signal for story time.
Yesterday, I was talking to bench coach Joey Cora before the game started, saying, Man, I have to start doing hit-and-runs and stuff, Guillen said before Thursdays series finale vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. A good answer came back: Well, we have to get on base, first.
Guillen started a long dissertation on his smallball roots with that anecdote, with a conclusion drawn thusly: I grew up bunting. My baseball game is bunting. We win a lot of games bunting.
With 10 hitsthe clubs first double-digit parcel of safeties since April 8Ozzies smallball ways are likely to be discounted as a factor in the 9-2 trouncing. So the evidence of a first inning runthe first lead the Pale Hose have held in 51 inningsspurred by Juan Pierre bunting his way on (his first of two consecutive) and advancing to third on an overthrow is offered merely anecdotally.
JP did a great job getting on there and causing some havoc, said Carlos Quentin, after turning in a now-customary double, two RBI, HBP night. Getting that run in was big. It gave us a chance to put pressure on them.
Pierre himself, robbed of an inside-the-park grand slam by Sam Fuld in Chicago and victimized for extra bases by Matt Joyce in last nights game, was caught in a bit of a fib postgame. Asked whether he microscoped his at-bats (he bunted in his first two times up, twice for hits) intentionally because of the Tampas defensive prowess, he said, No.
Then, laughing, he changed his story: Well, a little bit. I made up my mind that there was a big guy on the mound, too, so I was like, Ill try to get some bunts down and try to create things.
For storyteller Guillen, it was the perfect end to his time in Tampa.
Thats the way we expect to play every day, to be honest with you, he said postgame. I dont want to be cocky or arrogant, but this team can play this way because of the way we built this club and the talent we have. Every time we take the field, we expect to play that way.
Translation: Snapping the slump, especially one that came on so stealthily and threatened to anesthetize the season if it went on much longer, was nothing short of enormous for the Chisox. But its something the club knew was just a matter of time.
We all knew it was a big game for us, Quentin said. No team wants to get swept, especially for it to happen two times in a row. Its something you dont want to happen at all. We have been playing hardWe just havent gotten results. Its unfortunate because thats what happens in this game. But its not for a lack of effort and well keep bringing that same effort level day in and day out.
Gavin Floyd pitched into traffic more than he needed to, but with seven Ks over six innings and another snappy bullpen effort (Will Ohman, Sergio Santos, Jeff Gray), smiles snuck their way back into the Chicago clubhouse.
Quentin maintained his beastly pace to start the season, cracking his major-league leading 11th double in the sixth to plate two. The two-bagger also set a White Sox record for April doubleswith nine games left in the month.
Quentin shrugged off any notion of April records, speaking with customary animatronic emotion postgame. Gavin Floyd, who immediately scoffed himself postgame for his series of two-out baserunners, provided the proper exaltation as the volume on the clubhouse joking and celebrating kept getting turned up:
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.