After taking two from the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday and Tuesday, the White Sox did enough to win the series outright at U.S. Cellular Field over the last two nights. The ballclub took Wednesday night’s affair 8-3, but were throttled by the Cubs on Thursday night 12-5. A sweep would have been nice, but this banged-up Sox crew will certainly take three out of four.
Konerko Lifts Sox on Wednesday
In his new, limited role, we’ve been waiting for Paul Konerko to make a big impact on a game. Wednesday, he did just that.
In a 4-3 ballgame in the fifth, Paulie ripped one down the left field line for a bases-clearing double off of Cubs starter Travis Wood. It was the marquee hit in the ballgame, and Konerko crushed the Cubs’ hopes like he’s done so many times in his career. While it was just Konerko’s third, fourth, and fifth runs driven in on the season, they could not have come at a better time, and hopefully it will get him going against left-handers.
Gordon Beckham, who was moved to the leadoff spot in lieu of the struggling Alejandro De Aza, played big in his first game in the new role (albeit temporary with Adam Eaton out). Beckham smacked a three-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning, which was his sixth in his career vs. the Cubs. Gordon has been a lightning rod for criticism the past few years, but there’s no mistaking one thing: he owns the Cubs.
John Danks bounced back from a few rough outings, tossing six innings of three-run ball for a quality start. Also, Jose Abreu pounded out three hits, fully introducing himself to the Northsiders. Plus, we saw The Cuban Missile make a dazzling play in the ninth, making a tough catch on a shallow fly to right and an even tougher throw to double off the runner at first.
With the win, the Sox reclaimed the BP Cup after it spent a brief one-year stint at Wrigley Field. It’s a small, meaningless trophy, but hey, if anything for this year, we at least have bragging rights over the Cubs.
Cubs Pound Carroll, Cleto in Thursday Finale
Scott Carroll was almost too good to be true in his first two starts at the big league level. In his third on Thursday night, he came back down to Earth.
Carroll was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing six runs and a whopping 11 hits, two walks, two hit by pitches, and home runs to both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro in four plus frames. With Carroll, it’s simple. If he gets the ball up in the zone and doesn’t get ahead of hitters, he is going to get beat. It was only a matter of time before he had a start like this where his control wasn’t spot on early in at-bats, so I’m not entirely worried about him. However, if he has another stinker like this one next time out, then the Sox may want to think about removing him from the rotation instead of Andre Rienzo when Chris Sale returns from the disabled list.
The bullpen had been superb lately, but it was far from it Thursday. While Scott Downs threw two scoreless and continues to improve, we may have seen the last of Maikel Cleto. In two innings, the right-hander allowed three hits, three walks, a hit batsman, and a grand slam to Mike Olt (his second home run in as many nights). Jake Petricka also allowed a run in an inning of work.
As mentioned above, this could be the end of the line for Cleto, as options such as Javy Guerra and Frank Francisco are tearing it up in AAA. Cleto just has not been able to consistently throw strikes and get ahead of hitters, and the Sox may look to someone else in that role very soon.
While the Cubs scored 12 runs, the also left 13 men on base, meaning this one could have been even worse. The Sox tallied 13 hits of their own and saw multi-hit games from Alexei Ramirez (four) and Conor Gillaspie (two in his return from the disabled list), but also left double-digit men on the bases (11). Lacking clutch hitting has been atypical of the Sox offense this season, so I wouldn’t expect this to continue either.
A storyline we will have to follow over the next few days is Jose Abreu’s ankle, as it appeared to be bothering him pretty significantly over the last two ballgames. He had ankle problems earlier this year, but after a brief rest, it seemed as if those went away. However, while he played the entire game Wednesday and stayed in Thursday’s game until being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth, a limp was noticeable on all of Abreu’s runs to first. I’d imagine he gets the game off on Friday, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with this situation.