A.J. Pierzynski

As the regular season for Major League Baseball comes to a close this weekend, stuff (thank god for the White Sox faithful), cure the race to the playoffs is still on.  In the American League (AL) picture, the Kansas City Royals have clinched the Central division title, the Toronto Blue Jays secured their playoff spot with the division title in the East and the New York Yankees have solidified the first wild card spot.  What’s still up for grabs is the Western division title and the second wild card spot.

Currently in the West you have the Texas Rangers, who guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason last night with a win over the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels, with that loss, were eliminated from the division race, but they, along with the Minnesota Twins, still have an outside shot at the second AL Wild Card spot.  The Rangers have all but locked down the division with a three game lead over the Houston Astros with three games to play, meaning Texas would have to lose all three of their games while the Astros would have to win out just to force a one-game playoff for the division crown.  Maybe this isn’t the most probable scenario, but as a fan, being able to watch that exciting tie-breaker is something I’m rooting for.

To this day, nothing beats the Chicago White Sox “Blackout” game of 2008 for the AL Central division title against the Minnesota Twins.  Prior to the game, the White Sox and the Twins ended their regular season with equal 88-74 records.  I was lucky enough to score a ticket to this game and it was the greatest baseball game I had ever seen.  There was an excitement in the air at the ball park that was electrifying! The game had excellent pitching by John Danks, who pitched into the 7th inning and a rock-solid closing performance by Bobby Jenks.  The White Sox fielding was amazing including an outstanding defensive play by Ken Griffey Jr. and A. J. Pierzynski teaming up to throw out Michael Cuddyer at home plate.  The White Sox went on to win the game 1-0 on the strength of a solo home run by Jim Thome in the 7th inning.

The reason it was call the “blackout” game was because the nearly 40,000 fans in attendance were encouraged to wear all black during the game to show their support for the team.  I was also told that it was called the blackout game because it was the only game being played in the MLB that night and the outfield MLB scoreboard was blacked out.

What made the blackout game more memorable than any other game in recent history was that White Sox fans were able to celebrate an amazing victory with the team they all loved at home.  As you may remember, the White Sox clinched both the Central Division and World Series Championships on the road three years prior, so for fans this was a time to celebrate with the team and boy did we celebrate with “high-fives” dance-offs in the stands and a big salute from the players.

With a few more regular season scenarios to be play out this weekend, we can rest soundly knowing that October baseball is upon us and baseball fans are in for an exciting post-season.

Alexei Ramirez wins the game

Alexei Ramirez wins the game

It’s still too early to have a definitive answer to the burning question:  how good will the White Sox be in 2014?  It being too early isn’t stopping this team and management from being downright giddy about the possibilities of this team and the difference in attitude and play from last year.

There have been a few games this season that players and manager, generic Robin Ventura believe that last year’s team would have lost, medicine but not this team…so far.  Even Paul Konerko has high praise for this team.  He believes that this team’s offense is better than the ’05 offense.

Okay, let’s slow down a minute the season is only a couple of weeks old and there are reasons to be concerned.  The offense has bailed out the poor bullpen but they won’t be able to out slug every team every night.  If pitching coach Don Cooper isn’t able to work his magic with his struggling pitchers and the offense isn’t able to make up for their mistakes will this team be as happy?  Only time will tell.

White Sox Celebrate The Win

White Sox Celebrate The Win

The Soxs’ 7-game home stand got off to a great start with the southsiders winning 3 out of 4 games against the Cleveland Indians; the same team that last year had a record of 17 wins and 2 losses against the Sox.  Shortstop Alexei Ramirez was the hero in Sunday’s game with a game winning homerun.  He definitely is off to a hot start and seems more at ease this season as he is hitting 420 and has a hit in each game so far this season.  The bad news is that Right fielder Avisail Garcia is out for the year after undergoing surgery for his torn left labrum.  He sustained the injury while diving to attempt a catch during Wednesday’s game.  Due to this injury Outfielder Dayan Viciedo will get an opportunity, will he take advantage of it like 2nd Baseman Marcus Semien who hit the go ahead home run on Sunday and has been patient at the plate and played good defense.  The heroics of the offense have been made necessary due to the struggling bullpen, which is last in the AL with a 6.93 ERA, 26 walks and teams batting 295 against them.

The Sox finish up the home stand against some old friends on the 2013 World Champions Boston Red Sox, Jake Peavy and  A.J. Pierzynski.  After snowing on Monday the weather will slowly improve this week, so get out to the games either for a date night or hanging with your girlfriends.  Eat good food, have a few drinks and watch a much improved baseball team.

Sox Notes

Streaks:  “Sexy Lexi” Alexei Ramirez has had a hit in every game, Conor Gillaspie in on a 10-game hitting streak, and Adam Eaton has gone the last five games with multi-hits

The Sox signed RHP Frank Francisco, 34 years old, with 73 career saves and 3.93 ERA who was immediately sent to Triple-A in Charlotte

All of MLB honored the legacy of Jackie Robinson on Tuesday, April 15th                  

K-Zone Section

K-Zone Section

Promotions:  April 16th-White Sox Calendar, April 17th-K-Zone Cards for the Chris Sale K-Zone in the stands

A.J. Pierzynski, Addison Reed

With the second half of the 162-game MLB season ready to begin on Friday, prostate   let’s take a look at the White Sox and identify what they need to do to keep up the stellar baseball.  The White Sox exceeded expectations in the first half of the season thanks to timely hitting, sildenafil  extraordinary defense and stellar rookie performances.  However, many teams tank in the second half of the season after stellar starts and the Sox are not immune.  If they hope to continue their winning ways and go deep into the Playoffs in October, they’ll need to continue playing excellent baseball and accomplish the following 5 tasks during the second half of the season.

1. The number one thing the Sox need to do is to stay healthy in the second half. The White Sox bench is not particularly deep and any major injury may derail any hopes of winning the division title. Luckily, the injuries that the Sox suffered have actually proven to be beneficial to the team!  Injured players, pitcher John Danks and infielder Brent Morel were each struggling and have since been replaced by the thriving Jose Quintana and Kevin Youkilis.

2. To win your division, you guessed it, you have to beat your division. The White Sox have a good record against the AL Central so far, going 17-12 in the first half. They will be well on their way of their first division title of the decade if they keep it up. The Sox and rival Detroit Tigers season series is even at 4 wins a piece, on pace for a much better outcome than last season!

Chris Sale

3. The Sox need to trade for some starting pitching. Chris Sale and Jake Peavy both had phenomenal first half’s, but with both of them having durability questions, the Sox need some insurance at the back end of the rotation. Look for them to be buyers at the MLB trade deadline.

4. After a slow start, the Sox have managed to compile a decent home record (24-22). However; they are going to have to do a better job of taking care of business at home in the second half. Already one of the best road teams in the league, if the Sox start playing at The Celll like they do on the road they could be unbeatable come playoff time.

5. The Sox have been a mediocre 12-11 in one-run games.  Comparing that to their division rival Cleveland, who is 12-5 in one run games, and the Sox have a long way to go. Again, the Sox are in a great position, but they still have an uphill battle if they want to maintain their 3 game lead in the AL Central.

What’s Next: The White Sox return to work against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. Jose Quintana will be taking on Bruce Chen as the Sox hope to keep their hot streak alive.

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