BOSTON -- The offense hasn’t been the only reason for a 16-8 July record for the White Sox.
The defense has improved, too.
One of the key figures in the team’s resurgence is shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who in July has looked every bit as sharp up the middle as he did last season when he was an American League Gold Glove finalist. Whereas he stumbled through the season’s first few months and was near the bottom of all qualified shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved, Ramirez has climbed to 15th of 26 at minus-1.
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“It seems like every other inning he’s doing something out there that’s not easy to do,” said 2012 National League Gold Glove winner Adam LaRoche. “I know it’s helping his confidence for sure and no doubt it’s helping us out. It’s been fun to watch -- you wonder what he’s going to do next and he continues to do it.”
Ramirez has brought it all lately after a poor first three months to the season. Not only has his bat come alive, Ramirez has looked focused in the field. He’s resumed making the plays deep in the hole, the diving stops up the middle and the strong throws to first. The impact has been huge for a White Sox pitching staff that was hurt by the team’s poor defense early on as they no longer have to work around as many free outs given away.
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While the White Sox still rank 28th among 30 teams with minus-31 Defensive Runs Saved, according to fangraphs.com, they have improved. In mid-June the White Sox sat at minus-45 DRS and Ramirez has been a key.
“He’s been sharp,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There were a couple plays in the hole when he came across, guys who can get down the line. He has been playing some fantastic defense for us. You get the guys in the middle of the field, him and (Carlos Sanchez), we’ve turned some double plays in recent weeks that helps you and helps your pitchers and he’s been right there. He’s been on time.”
It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:
Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.
The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:
— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.
— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.
— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).
— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.
— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)
— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).
Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.