With all the various marketing tags that MLB has placed on the start of the season, it’s become difficult to keep track of where we at in the season. With the “Opening Series” starting in Japan on Wednesday, March 28 is this the third week of baseball? I guess technically, yes. Then some teams who had their Opening Day start this past weekend had “Opening Day” graphics on the field, but other teams had “Opening Week” graphics on their fields. I’m also pretty sure there was an “Opening Weekend” graphic, but my old brain can’t remember for sure.
The way I look at it is Opening Week was Monday, April 9 – Sunday, April 15, plus for my purposes that put me on Monday – Sunday recap schedule.
After giving the Sox a grade of “C” for their opening weekend series against the Rangers, I’m able to surprisingly come back with an “A” after they completed their first week of AL Central play with a 4-1 record. The Sox played well throughout the week sweeping the Indians in a rain-shorten two game series and taking 2-out-of-3 from the Tigers to open their home season. Both Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd held the Tigers offense in check allowing only two runs total in both of their starts. The Sox were able to hold Cabrera and Fielder to four hits total with one extra base hit; all those hits came from Fielder’s bat. Sox starting pitching held the Tigers to a total of five runs during the weekend series at US Cellular Field.
The Sox were able to produce hits with runners in scoring position all week, which would be a new positive trend for 2012. The Sox quickly disposed of Indians staff ace, Justin Masterson, on Wednesday by scoring five runs off Masterson over 5 innings of work. The Sox were able to make the most of their opportunities offensively to win 4-out-of-5. Adam Dunn surpassed his total doubles at US Cellular Field last season in the opening series against the Tigers with three. Yes, for Dunn to out perform himself from last season should not be terribly difficult for him. He struggled so badly at home last season it’s almost unbelievable.
The Sox bullpen has also risen to the occasion in this young season allowing only six runs in the first eight games played, the weakest link appears to be Will Ohman who’s allowed four of the six runs out of the ‘pen. I don’t think anyone needed those numbers to know Ohman was the weakest link.
The Sox pitching staff as a whole has produced impressive numbers so far; .202 opponents batting average, 1.02 Ks per inning, .997 WHIP, and a 3.43 ERA. Doesn’t look like a team that’s going to lose 95 games this season. Jim Leyland agrees.
“People who made those picks, they know nothing about baseball,” Leyland said. “Trust me. If they think the Chicago White Sox are not going to be in the thick of this, they’re crazy. They don’t know anything about baseball, people who make picks like that … they know nothing about baseball. Nothing!”
“Look at their pitching staff. Look at the arms they throw out there,” Leyland said of the Sox. “Look at some of the arms they bring out of the bullpen. You know, Paul Konerko is one of the best hitters in baseball. You know Adam Dunn is going to do a lot better than he did last year. He got a couple of (doubles) today. I mean, this is a good team. (Alexei) Ramirez is one of the best shortstops in the league. This is a real good team. (A.J.) Pierzynski is one of the best catchers, gets a lot of big hits. I don’t know why anybody would not pick these guys as a solid, solid contender.”
Yeah, what Leyland said!
Phil Humber makes his 2012 debut against the Orioles tonight at US Cellular Field at 7:10 pm CST.
Based on expectation this grade should probably be an “F,” but a there were a few positives this week versus the opening series against the Diamondbacks. One of those was Matt Cain’s brilliant pitching performance against the Pirates on Friday. He pitched a complete game striking out 11 allowing only one hit, but Lincecum had another horrendous performance earlier in the week against the Rockies. His velocity remains down, so it will be wait and see as he starts tonight against Roy Holladay.
The Giants offense continues to produce which is a great sign since it has been a bit anemic the past few years. Melky Cabrera is making the most of his time with Giants hitting .324 with a homer and 5 RBIs. Their offense is averaging 4.7 runs per game, a rather impressive number in this young season.
The biggest problem for the Giants besides Lincecum’s loss in velocity is Brian Wilson facing season ending elbow surgery. Losing Wilson puts a closer by committee system in place for a bullpen that’s been less than stellar so far, and we all know that never works very well.
Also, Buster Posey ended up with shingles this week, so his play has been limited. Shingles? Isn’t that an old person’s illness? Despite all that the Giants have managed to rebound after staring out 0-4, by going 4-1 to get to a respectable 4-5 on the year. The problem with that is the Dodgers have started out on fire with a 9-1 record. So much for the selling of the team distracting the Dodgers. If the Giants continue their solid play from the past week they should be fine.
The Freak vs. Doc tonight at AT&T Park at 9:15 pm CST.