by Mike DePilla
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
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Well, that weekend certainly didn't go the way I thought it would.
While the overworked, "weary" Twins were busy sweeping the first-place Tigers instead of struggling mightily with a depleted pitching staff, the White Sox, featuring singles-hitter extraordinaire Manny Ramirez (now 7-for-16 with his new team, all singles) stormed into Fenway Park and swept the Red Sox in Boston for the first time in 19 years.
In addition to the slap-hitting Ramirez (and of course the superb starting pitching), the Sox offense has squeeked out just enough runs thanks to significant contributions by AJ Pierzynski (9-for-23 on the current road trip) and Andruw Jones (6-for-11)- two guys left for dead a month ago who are hitting .351 and .333 respectively since August 1.
It's frustrating that the net result of the Sox current seven-game winning streak is a mere one game improvement in the standings, but it's important and encouraging that the Sox, while 3.5 games out right now, still control their own fate. While it feels like the Twins won't lose another game at Target Field for the rest of the season, they will get on the road eventually, and the Sox are not giving an inch on their longest road trip on the season.
Considering the weakness of the Twins remaining schedule however, it looks like the Sox will have to sweep the gigantic three-gamer between the two teams at the Cell next week to win the Central, certainly no small order. But, with solid pitching, Manny swagger and some recent late inning magic, this is looking like a Sox team that might be up to the task.
With the Rays loss last night (their third in a row), the Sox are now six games out of the Wildcard, the closest they've been in three weeks. The Rays do have a relatively tough schedule coming up (two more games in Boston, three in Toronto and seven left vs. the Yankees), but it would probably take a Padres-like losing streak for Tampa to miss the playoffs. However remote their chances are, it is nice to see the Sox closing the gap.
With the minor league season all but over, the following Sox farmhands will be playing for the Peoria Saguaros this October in the Arizona Fall League (in order of importance): Jared Mitchell (OF), Josh Phegley (C), Charlie Leesman (P), Eduardo Escobar (SS), Henry Mabee (P), Johnnie Lowe (P), Anthony Carter (P).
It will be great to see Mitchell, who missed all of 2010 thus far after that awful ankle injury in spring training, back on the field. However, we all know the real importance of the AFL is for Ken Williams to find the next Jeff Marquez.
At White Sox Examiner, JJ stumps for Alexei Ramirez's Gold Glove campaign, a worthy cause that I am on board for. If the powers that be actually award the Gold Glove for defense, both measured by the eye test and the UZR/WAR test, Ramirez should win. But Derek Jeter is on TV more, and remember that great play he made running into the stands at old Yankee Stadium... and he's just sooooo dreamy.
Elsewhere, Erik at Pale Hose Pariah talks about third base call-up Brent Morel, a plus defender who has handled the bat well at all his stops in the minors, including Triple-A Charlotte. If the Sox prioritize defense and make decisions completely independent of money (i.e. not just hand the starting job to $4.75 million man Mark Teahen), Morel and Ramirez could hold down the left side of the infield in 2011, and they might be the best duo in the American League.
Put a real defender in right field all season in place of Carlos "The Statue" Quentin, and the Sox might have the best overall defense in the league.
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