The first series of the year is in the books for the White Sox and they look pretty average, so far. There are a few subtle changes that are worth noting, but the biggest similarity with the 2011 White Sox is the inability to get a hit with runners in scoring position.
The Sox squandered opportunities the entire series against the Rangers, that ultimately lead to their demise in game one, and putting no real pressure on the Rangers starter, Matt Harrison, along with a subpar performance by Gavin Floyd did them in last night.
For most part the starting pitching was solid in the series, both John Danks and Jake Peavy turned in quality starts, but the long ball did Gavin Floyd in as he let up three homers leading to five runs. All the home runs were allowed because Floyd missed his spots on those pitches and paid for it. He only allowed five hits over 5-2/3 innings, but gave up two-strike home runs to both Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton; almost unforgiveable.
On the plus side of things in the series, the bullpen has pitched 7-1/3 scoreless innings to start the season, and a save from rookie closer, Hector Santiago. The best part was it was three-up, three-down for his save, no drama. Alex Rios hit the game winning home run in game two and Adam Dunn had a home run in game one and a hit off a lefty in game two. With his hit against a lefty, Derek Holland, that brought Dunn within six hits of surpassing his total number of hits against lefties in 2011. As sad of a stat as that is, it’s a positive that he’s getting some of last year’s demons exorcised early on in the season.
Of course, Paul Konerko is going about his business as usual, batting .417 with 3 RBIs in the first three games. He’s on pace for 162! Unfortunately, that will fall well short of the 300 RBIs Prince and Mig are each on pace for with the Tigers. The Tigers basically broke Boston’s back early in the season by sweeping them including two come from behind victories over the three games. That makes the Sox 1-2 start a bit more painful as they already trail the Tigers by two games.
The most painful stat for the Sox is their lack of execution with runners in scoring position, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph. The Sox were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position over the three game series, which makes it near impossible for a team to win with those types of stats. What’s even more depressing about that stat is if they had gotten one more hit with runners in scoring position, they would have won game one. Somehow they would have won two games going 3-for-19. The only positive to take from that stat is that they had a runner in scoring position 19 times, which means they are hitting and getting on base.
It’s only three games, so I’m not going to freak out nor am I going to declare a big year for Rios. I do think that Dunn will have a close to normal Adam Dunn year for the Sox, but I said at the end of last season.
Chris Sale is on the bump tonight against division opponent, the Cleveland Indians, who did not play very well in their opening series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Hopefully, the Sox can take advantage of that. Key pitching match-up is game three where John Danks squares off against Justin Masterson; it should be a dandy.