July 27, 2006


Chicago's Struggles Alter AL Landscape (STEVEN GOLDMAN, July 27, 2006, NY Sun)

[W]ith the White Sox ice cold and the Yankees hot, the wild card safety valve is again open.

Chicago's tailspin began just before the All-Star break, when the Red Sox beat their hosiery counterparts in two of three contests. Beginning with that series, the White Sox have gone 4–11. Over that same span, the Yankees have gone 10–5 and a comeback kids-style Minnesota Twins team has gone 12–4. On July 6, the Sox held a wild-card lead of seven games.As of yesterday afternoon's loss to the Twins, it's gone.

Chicago's failure has been systemic, though it was pitching that went down harder. Left-handed ace Mark Buehrle has been so bad for so long that the soundness of his arm must be questioned.With another disastrous start yesterday, Buehrle has been pasted in five consecutive starts, going 0–5 with a 12.15 ERA. During the July slide, Freddy Garcia's July ERA is 5.76. Javier Vazquez's is 6.48. Overall, the staff's ERA during the slide has been 5.44.

Given hot hitting, a team might be able to survive that kind of pitching.The Sox haven't had it. Though their power production has remained steady, with 27 home runs and a .455 slugging percentage over the last 15 games, the team's onbase average is just .305. Key offenders include Paul Konerko, whose on-base average is just .281 (though he has hit four home runs in 57 at bats) and A.J. Pierzynski, who is batting .176 AVG/.208 OBA/.294 SLG. As a result, the Sox have scored just under four runs a game. When the pitching staff is allowing more than five runs a game at the same time, it takes an awful lot of luck to win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 27, 2006 7:54 AM
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