Thursday, July 8, 2010
Updated: 1:30 AM
By Brett Ballantini
CHICAGO Another day, another win paced by a multitude of heroes from the Chicago White Sox.
The hottest team in baseball took its 17th of 21 with a 5-2 battering of the Los Angeles Angels, earning Freddy Garcia his ninth win in spite of a season-high five errors. The win moved the White Sox ahead of the Minnesota Twins into second place in the AL Central. The Detroit Tigers sit one game up in first place, rightfully shaking in their knickers.
That was the first time our defense didnt help us, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. But our staff overcame those errors. Were picking each other up.
Im just throwing strikes and keeping the ball down to keep it in the park, Garcia said. And we scored when we needed to.
The game was delayed for a second straight night by rain, this time the stoppage clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes.
The otherwise-unflappable Garcia admitted being affected by the delayhe was warm and ready to take the mound at 7:10, but the rains came just moments before game time. The veteran got out of a jam in the second after a single by Torii Hunter and a catchers interference call on a Hideki Matsui swing put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Mike Napolis hot smash to third was handled by Dayan Viciedo and transformed into an awkward but effective 5-4-3 double play. Matsui opted for Wiffleball rules on the play, simply running into second sacker Gordon Beckham as Bacon flipped on the double-play turn rather than Matsui sliding to take him out. Garcia fanned Juan Rivera to extinguish the threat, marking the rightys second straight inning ending with a K, en route to six on the game.
I still have to do my job, Garcia said of the start-stop delays that could have stymied his outing. I tried to relax and get ready. Thats all you can do.
Paul Konerko continued his campaign to be sent to Tuesdays All-Star Game in Pauliewood with a two-out, opposite-field double to score two in the third and spot Garcia a two-run lead. Konerko also doubled in the eighth, finishing with a 2-4 night.
It was a typically laborious outing for Garcia, who scattered five hits and one run over six innings, leaving six Halos stranded. Those six innings ate up 92 pitches.
I cant say anything more about Freddy, Guillen said. He knows how to pitch.
He just frustrates you, left fielder Juan Pierre said. Ive faced him enough times to know, its a quiet 0-3 or 0-4, but youre still heading back to the dugout unhappy.
Garcia could rest easy by the time his long night ended thanks to a crooked number his offense put up in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Rios singled and was pushed to second by an Andruw Jones walk and to third with a Ramon Castro sac fly. It was then that Dick Allen in Cuban threads, Viciedo, rocketed a double off the left-center wall, further underscoring his at-bats as must-see. Viciedos bullet plated Rios, and the masher came around to score along with Jones, when Power Packed Energy Wad Brent Lillibridgeindeed, with the late scratch of Carlos Quentin, Guillens designated hitter tonighttapped a soft single to center.
Its a matter of confidence, Lillibridge says of the dagger that ran Angels starter Joe Saunders. I know what I did wrong on his two earlier Ks, adjusted and swung at the right pitches.
J.J. Putz came on for the seventh (yawn) to protect the 5-1 lead and strung his (snooze) 21st straight scoreless outing (snore) with a one-two-three inning, complete with two strikeouts. (Putz now owns the second-longest streak of scoreless outings in White Sox history.)
In the bottom of the eighth, rookie Sergio Santos came on and made things a bit exciting with two straight walks, then a K before Hunter tapped a grounder to third that resulted in a double errorone from defensive replacement Omar Visquels fielding (his first error in 20 years, Guillen cracked), a second charged to Alexei Ramirez on the throw. The double gaffe tapped out Chicagos errors for the game at five, Erick Aybar scoring on the second error to trim the Chisox lead to 5-2.
The game was sloppy tonight, Lillibridge said. Normally, Id want to be out there in the field, but that was a weird, wild game. It just goes to show that things are really going our way.
Matt Thornton came in again to bail out Santos and the rest of the men in black, inducing a line-shot to center from Matsui and a sawed-off bat, weak liner to short from Napoli.
Bobby Jenks came on for a perfect ninth to earn his 18th save in 19 tries.
In a game where once again the list of Chicago Nine heroes was long, Garcia stood out as the wearer of the cape. But the hurler was nonplussed over the nine wins that have shocked Chicago.
If Im 100 percent and feel good, this is what I can do, Garcia said. People can say whatever they want, theyre surprised or something. But I know what I can do.
Still, his manager and biggest fan, Guillen, is delighted by the turn of events.
If you had told me that Freddy would have nine wins in the first half, wed be in first place, Guillen said. Well, were almost there.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.