A sigh of relief for White Sox fans, as they narrowly avoid an embarassing four game sweep in Houston against the lowly Astros on Monday evening.
On a night in which most Chicago sports fans were likely tuned into the Blackhawks game three Stanley Cup final, the White Sox offense finally managed a couple of timely hits. That along with a solid group effort from the White Sox bullpen would be enough to snap their four game skid.
Bullpen Solid in Long Relief of Quintana
White Sox starter Jose Quintana lacked command, and went deep into counts with Astros hitters Monday evening. By the 5th inning he had run his pitch count up to over one hundred. Although he didn't have his best stuff, he found ways to work through it. He yielded just five hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings but didn't factor in the decision for the fourth straight start. He has a no-decision in nine of his 14 starts this season.
Nate Jones (3-4) earned the victory, pitching a scoreless 1 1/3 innings. Surrendering 3 hits, striking out three, and walking none. Jones has been solid as of late for the White Sox, and has run his ERA down to a respectable 5.00. Respectable, considering that number was approaching double digits just two weeks ago. Which at the time, had prompted some to believe Jones may have earned himself a demotion to AAA Charlotte.
Crain Continues to Roll
Jesse Crain contiued his dominance as of late, going a scoreless 1 2/3 innings. Striking out three, and walking none in his 27th straight appearance without surrendering a run.
Crain has been the model of consistency, working in a bullpen that has been anything but consistent for the majority of the season. His ERA currently sits at an extremely impressive 0.57, and currently maintains a WHIP of 0.98. Over 31 2/3 innings of work, he has surrendered just 22 hits, and has allowed just two earned runs.
It's rare that many relievers outside of closers garner serious consideration for the All-Star game, but Crain has about just as strong of a case as you could build. Assuming the White Sox only put one representative into the All-Star game, it's likely that he would be the underdog to White Sox outfielder Alex Rios.
Which is exactly why I am offically endorsing Jesse Crain as your White Sox representative for the 2013 All-Star game!
Finally Some Timely Hitting
The Chicago White Sox lamented their inability to make plays in crucial situations after losing three straight games by one run each to Houston.
They finally found a way to capitalize when they had a chance to change the game Monday night and it led to a 4-2 win over the Astros. The White Sox were 3 for 7 with runners in scoring position Monday night. All three of of those hits came in their four run sixth inning.
We trailed 2-0 before Alejandro De Aza singled in the sixth and went to third on Adam Dunn's two-out single. Paul Konerko pulled Chicago to 2-1 with an RBI single that went between the legs of starter Bud Norris and into center field.
Conor Gillaspie barely beat the throw to first on an infield single that loaded the bases. That brought up Viciedo, whose triple landed on Tal's Hill in center field just out of the reach of a diving Brandon Barnes. All three runners scored to put Chicago up 4-2, and that would be all the run support they would need.
The White Sox failure to hit with two outs, and with runners in scoring position has been one of the biggest reasons for their short comings thus far in the season. White Sox fans can only hope that what we saw Monday night is the beginning of a new trend for this offense.
A Chance to Gain Back Some Lost Ground
The White Sox currently sit in last place in the AL Central at nine games below .500. They trail the division leading Tigers by 9 1/2 games.
If there's any silver lining for this team right now, it's the fact that they will see four teams with .500 records or worse in their next twelve matchups. 10 of those 12 games coming within the division. Two coming in a short interleague series in New York against the Mets.
First, the White Sox head to Minnesota for a three game set against the Twins. Dylan Axelrod (3-4) will take on Mike Pelfrey (3-6) on Tuesday night, with a first pitch time of 7:10 PM CT.