W: Byrd (15-6) L: Broadway (0-1)
The last month of the White Sox' season, brought to you by UPS: we can mail it in from anywhere! What can "suck" do for you?
1) Second-order dominance
Paul Byrd facing everyone but Juan Uribe: 6 1/3 IP, 4 H (1 XB), 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB. That's a pretty good game!
Paul Byrd's final line: 6 1/3 IP, 6 H (3 XB), 3 R, 1 K, 1 BB. Cleveland fans everywhere stood and applauded the walk, because it was issued to Juan Uribe. Uribe, a .227 hitter with a .622 OPS against right-handed pitchers and not noted for his control of the strike zone, managed to pound two home runs off Byrd, each of which tied the game shortly after Cleveland had taken a lead. Combined with some Very Serious Squander Ball in the early innings, it made a game in which the Indians were clearly outplaying the White Sox look like it might come down to one bad pitch, and few are as capable of making that pitch as Paul Byrd.
Obviously, you can't simply remove a guy from the lineup when judging performance, but Byrd really did pitch pretty well against anyone less Juan Uribe than Juan Uribe. His third, fifth, and sixth innings were perfect, and the first was the only Uribeless inning to feature a baserunner (Scott Podsednik, who singled, stole second, went to third on an error, and stood tapping his foot as Byrd dispatched Jim Thome and Paul Konerko in the next three pitches). He three 63 strikes in 96 pitches, just short of a 2:1 ratio, and the non-Uribe extra-base hit was a double, albeit by a guy hitting .211.
Actually, consider this: Jim Thome's .268 batting average led the White Sox' lineup last night. Three of the hitters were over .250, the same number that were under .215. When Luis Terrero pinch-hit for Jerry Owens in the 8th, it was like changing the channel from "According to Jim" to "Charles in Charge." Yes, they're different programs, but have you really accomplished anything in terms of the entertainment value available to you?
So maybe Byrd's numbers lose a little lustre in this light. But they were still pretty good.
2) A pointless statistic
With C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona already having posted their 15th wins, Byrd's 15-6 record gives Cleveland three 15-game winners for the first time in ... two years! Woo woo!
Seriously, it's like driving past the restaurant that says "Since 2004" on the hand-painted sign. That's gonna look real impressive in 2060 or so, but now ... eh, not so much.
3) Down at the blunderbuss factory
We make ‘em tall! We make ‘em small! We make ‘em left-handed, right-handed ... and most of ‘em don't even have much wear on ‘em!
Had the White Sox put up this kind of performance in the rain Monday, I expect the game might have been called because they clearly couldn't grip the ball. Since it did not rain last night, I can't come up with a compelling reason why they pitched as they did that doesn't involve the word "suck."
John Danks managed to yield one baserunner (3 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP) for each out (2 2/3 IP) and uncork a wild pitch, yet gave up only three runs in those 2 2/3 innings. Lance Broadway, far and away the most effective Chicago pitcher while the outcome was in doubt, struck out 4 and showed good pluck ... but still managed to throw 21 balls in 46 pitches and walk 2 men in 2 2/3 IP. And then "March of the Gladiators" played over the loudspeakers and relief pitchers began folding themselves out of tiny windup cars, dressed in colorful oversized shoes and red noses that honked.
Matt Thornton threw 18 pitches. Nine were strikes. None recorded an out. Two were balls four. Actually, this is not enitrely fair: the ground-rule double he gave up to Asdrubal Cabrera could have been caught by Jerry Owens in center had Thornton waited for Owens' nitrous oxide buzz to wear off and for him to remove the oversized shoes. Thornton's last batter was Ryan Garko with the bases loaded: Garko walked, forcing in a run.
Mike MacDougal, the same Mike MacDougal who managed to walk in runs last time, walked in a run this time, managing to walk Jhonny Peralta, who to that point had accomplished exactly nothing with his bat. (He did get Gutierrez to ground into a double play to mercifully end the inning.) MacDougal ended up throwing more balls than strikes and matched Thornton's two hits, two walks, and two runs allowed, albeit in 1 1/3 innings instead of 0 0/3 innings.
Some other guy pitched. The remaining White Sox fan cheered him, saying, "I just signed an extension through 2012, be-yotch!"
4) In the spirit of fair play
After having singled out Travis Hafner yesterday, it bears mentioning that with runners on second and third and one out, a situation in which Cleveland has managed to score no runs quite a few times, Hafner lined a two-run single off left-hander Danks. Hafner finished the night 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and 3 RBI. He also managed to be stranded on third base twice and second base once; he was also stranded on first, meaning he was just an actual run scored away from the baserunning cycle.
5) Not really the best way to assert indispensibility
Jason Michaels got the start in left field against the lefty Danks. He got a hit and drew a walk in five trips to the plate, scoring a run and whiffing once.
However, it was the timing of these events that proved frustrating: Michaels drew a walk in the first, but it was immediately after Franklin Gutierrez shrewdly got picked off first and right ahead of Casey Blake, who, if you can believe it, struck out with the man on base. Given another chance in the following inning, the Indians loaded the bases, and the right-hander Broadway was brought in to face Michaels ... who flew out on the first pitch.
Now, this is a pet peeve. We've been over this before. But geez, with a new pitcher coming out of the pen, you'd better be Real Sure you can hit that first pitch, or I will call you a Silly Person. (In Michaels' defense, he hit it pretty well, but not like an actual hit.)
With two men on and two outs in the 5th, Michaels got another shot at Broadway ... and whiffed.
Leading off the 7th, he singled (and scored later, huzzah!). But with a man on second in the 8th and one out, he grounded out against Heath Phillips, who probably throws with one of his hands.
Anyway, I guess the point here is that with runners in scoring position, Michaels went 0-for-3 and ended the inning twice. These were against right-handers, meaning that if you were a betting man, you would say that using Michaels properly is going to be a challenge against a team with multiple bullpen options.
6) Gark smash!
Ryan Garko not only had a Home Run (off Danks), he had a one-base Not Home Run and "drove in" a run with a walk off Thornton. He raised (!) his September batting average to .209, but does have 4 home runs in the month, including 3 in the last week.
7) Terror on the basepaths!
Michaels did steal second base, as did Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez was picked off by the lefty Danks. Kelly Shoppach threw to second twice, catching Danny Richar once and missing the bag area entirely once for an error.
8) A contrast in styles
Jensen Lewis came into the game with two men on base. He threw six pitches. He recorded 2 strikeouts.
Aaron Fultz came into the game with no men on base. He threw 11 pitches. He recorded two walks and left with two men on base. Kenny Williams immediately made an offer for him.
I have a preference for one of these styles.
9) In case you were concerned
Raffy Perez came in with two runners on base. He induced a double play and four more outs to pitch two perfect innings. (That style's okay, too.)
10) Completely False Statement for the Google Search Engine
Mark Shapiro is negotiating with the Seattle Seahawks to allow Charlie Frye to be a concurrent two-sport player, hoping to add him to the bullpen for the playoffs. Frye holds the ball even longer than Raffy Betancourt and would be overly penalized, rendering him ineffective (much like in the NFL), so this statement is implausible. Fire Eric Wedge.