Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: April 12, 10:49 p.m. Updated: 12:12 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
The Chicago White Sox entered their 11th game of the season at 6-4, a seeming letdown for a club that even manager Ozzie Guillen has acknowledged could easily be 9-1 at this juncture.
WATCH: Ozzie upset with Sox fans
But a .600 winning percentage gets you 97 wins on the major-league slate, even any Baseball Prospectus antimatter wouldnt require that many Ws to win the American League Central.
The White Sox upped that winning percentage to .636 with an improbably sloppy win, a game that started strong, got truly slushy in the middle, then finishing in thrilling fashion, as Alexei Ramirez launched a two-out solo homer in the 10th his second round-tripper of the game to send the Pale Hose home victorious, 6-5. It was the first game-ending home run of Ramirezs career.
The notoriously slow-starting Ramirez equaled his April home run output over the first three years of his career with Tuesday nights output, and the quiet shortstop has applied some fuzzy meteorology toward the solution to the problem.
Four years ago it was a lot colder than it was now, he said. Im just making the best of what the climate is and Im enjoying it.
Alexei has been great over the years against lefties, a very dangerous hitter, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I almost got him to swing 3-0 he was looking at me. I wanted someone on base but the last thing you expect is a home run.
Hes swung the bat very well this is the best month of April hes swung the bat. He got a big hit for us early in the game, especially against Trevor Cahill. Cahill is a kid who throws a lot of ground balls. I never thought wed hit a home run in April in this weather against him, and Alexei did.
The White Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead courtesy of Ramirezs first homer, the three-run blast Guillen was referencing. The White Sox then kept the train rolling vs. the recently-extended righty, pushing across one more run on a Paul Konerko fielders choice.
The bounty proved too big for White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, coming off his best start in a White Sox uniform, his eight-inning masterpiece vs. the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. The righthander scuffled through every inning and was knocked from the box at 100 pitches and one out short of qualifying for his third win of the season.
Today, I just had no feel for my off-speed pitches, Jackson said. Everything came out spinning. You have to compete with what you have, and try to keep the game as close as possible.
One of the toughest decisions we had to make today is taking Jackson out with one out left in the fifth, Guillen said. He couldnt get the win. It was a bad feeling about it. There was a lefty hitter out there, and I wanted to switch him around. Thats the reason we made the move.
Jacksons body language slowly stalking off the field, looking back at Ramirez (who had just made his first error and second miscue of the inning) twice while leaving betrayed just how furious he was at the inefficient effort.
I dont know any starter that is going to be pretty happy going 4 23 innings, he said. Its definitely not helping the pen out, and you want to be in there as long as possible. But its part of the game and one of those things.
The sixth inning was reserved for the worst of the White Sox tonight. First, Tony Pena came on as the third pitcher of the night and promptly surrendered a single to Mark Ellis and a home run to Kevin Kouzmanoff - Oaklands seventh and eighth hitters - turning what had been a 4-3 lead upside-down. Just one out later, Alex Rios dropped a fly ball for an error, the outfields fifth in just 11 games.
The Bronx cheers from the U.S. Cellular Field crowd all game long and intensified after Rios drop bothered Guillen.
I know were not playing well weve made a couple mistakes that cost us a couple games, but every time we catch the ball and fans are going to boo, I dont think thats fair, Guillen said. I know we all want to win, but every fly ball were going to get booed? Dont kick the outfield when theyre down. Try to support them.
I dont see any better center fielder than Alex, and the way Juan plays for the White Sox the past couple years, I dont think he deserves every fly ball he catches to have people booing him. Youre going to boo someone, boo me. Because Im the one who makes the lineup and Im the one who plays those guys Weve only played 11 games. I played here for a long time. Its a bad feeling every time were booed when we catch the ball in the outfield.
Still, Guillen was pleased once again with how his team bounced back from a heartbreaking loss.
We needed this win bad, he said. With the loss last night, we bounced back again and played well.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.