Texas Rangers

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.

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It’s a very busy time in the Chicago sports scene.  The Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls are battling in the first round of the playoffs, medical Bulls MVP Joakim Noah won the Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Chicago Bears returned to Halas Hall for voluntary workouts. With the Bulls and the Blackhawks both beginning their playoff runs, physician many fans aren’t particularly focused on baseball. However, cialis the Sox continue playing decent ball during a time of the season that they have historically fallen behind early.

Current standings: 10-11 (.476) two games behind Detroit in AL Central.

Injuries: There were more injuries to hit the team in the last week.  The injury that is causing most fans to worry is the flexor muscle strain the will keep Pitcher Chris Sale on the disabled list for 15 days.  Pitcher Charlie Leesman was called up from Triple A to replace him.  The team was relieved to find out that there was no structural damage to his UCL and he should be able to return when his DL stint ends the first week of May.

Sale was placed on the disabled list after his 127 pitch performance against the Boston Red Sox, which of course left Manager Robin Ventura open for criticism.  Some believe a game in April is too early in the season to allow a pitcher as valuable as Sale to go that long.  Others wonder will his delivery be a reason he has chronic issues.  Chris Sale and the White Sox are very confident that this is a non-issue and he will return when ready and there is no concern that this will be a lingering problem.  So, until proven otherwise all we can do is trust they all know what they’re doing and they will not jeopardize the career of their franchise.

Chris Sale

Chris Sale

Adam Eaton has to take a few days off to rest a strained hamstring.  Conor Gillaspie will sit to rest his injured hand.  Pitcher Felipe Paulino landed on the disabled list after a terrible outing; he is being replaced by Pitcher Andre Rienzo who was called up from Triple A.

News: Last week the White Sox went 2-4 against the Red Sox and Texas Rangers and won the first game of the series against the Detroit Tigers.  Chris Sale struck out 10 and allowed 1 hit to the Boston Red Sox in the only win of the series.  The south siders had an offensive explosion scoring 16 times to salvage the final game of the series against the Texas Rangers.  In the blowout game First Baseman Jose Abreu and Centerfielder Jordan Danks each hit 2-run home runs.  It seems like Abreu is coming out of his mini slump learning to readjust to the adjustments the pitchers made against him.  Pitcher John Danks continues to pitch well holding the Detroit Tigers to 1 run in the win.

Fireworks Night on April 25th

Fireworks Night on April 25th

Looking for something to do this weekend?  The men in black return to The Cell this Friday to begin a 4-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.  The weather is supposed to be a little cool, but nice on Friday for the fireworks and some will receive a reusable tote.  This early in the season  great tickets are always available for some of the lowest prices you’ll see all season.  Find the best deals on seats HERE

My thoughts: By all accounts Paul Konerko is fine with his part-time role as he is the ultimate professional and team player, so you’ll never hear anything different.  I don’t know about you but I envisioned this farewell tour going a little differently.  He only has 19 at bats, 0 home runs and is hitting 105. Shouldn’t he get in the games more?  I know for Adam Dunn hitting 250 is like another player hitting 300 and he has 4 home runs, but I still can’t help thinking why can’t Paulie DH more.  Even with his terrible average it is early enough in the season to turn it around and make an impact offensively.  Sure he’s great on the bench and helps guide these young players, but this is the captain not some rookie who needs to earn his place.  Maybe Dunn is in there more to showcase him for a possible trade this summer, maybe Konerko really is fine with his extremely limited role.  I don’t know what it is, but I know I don’t like it.

 

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CT 0404_spt_sox_twins_23.JPG

The first week of White Sox baseball offered a glimmer of hope for fans.There’s excitement surrounding the fast start by the offense, online  Chris Sale continuing his dominance, health Jose Abreu living up to expectations, look Adam Eaton setting the table and playing highlight reel defense and the unexpected power of Alejandro De Aza. Now hold on because even though there are signs of improvement there are also some concerns with the defense and a shaky bullpen.

Chris Sale after another great outing

Chris Sale after another great outing

The South Siders sit at 4-4 eight games into the 2014 season. After their Opening Day 7-6 win against the Twins last Monday, they dropped the follow-up game on Tuesday, and then lost two of three against the Royals and are 1-1 so far in the series against the Rockies. Considering that most experts predicted between 75-80 wins, technically this is not too bad of a start, but things definitely need to improve.

The Sox don’t have an easy road in the beginning with the following series on deck:  April 9: @ Rockies, April 10-13: vs Indians, April 15-17: vs Red Sox, April 18-20: @ Rangers, April 21-24:@ Tigers

White Sox White Women's Triblend Batterman Tee, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

White Sox White Women’s Triblend Batterman Tee, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

A quick look back at last week’s action: Along with the Sox win over the Twins and the great opening day weather in Chicago, the new food, beverages and attractions were also a hit on Opening Day.  The bacon on the stick was crisp, the new beers were refreshing, the hot chocolate kept you warm and the team won. So it was an all-around great day for the White Sox faithful.  On Thursday it was so cold that team officials decided to reward fans in attendance by giving them a ticket to a game in April.  Fans were able to redeem their ticket stubs and will receive another ticket. This incredible act of kindness just demonstrates how wiling the White Sox are to make fans happy and just how well they treat their fans, so get out there and support them.

Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu

Fans are cautiously optimistic and with good reason. Luckily there is plenty of time to shore up the defense and get solid outings from the bullpen. I know I’m just happy that baseball is back and the weather is improving. Now that the pageantry of opening week is over we can all begin to really evaluate what is right and what is wrong with the White Sox. Sit back, relax and enjoy the long season.

 

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Alex Rios

Friday was a sad day for Sox fans as fan favorite Alex Rios was traded to the Texas Rangers.

The Rios trade was another big move by the White Sox who are attempting to salvage their lost season and preparing for the future by trading away talent to rebuild the team.

After placing Rios on waivers on Thursday he was claimed by the Texas Rangers for $1 million, viagra infielder Leury Garcia and cash considerations.

This is a smart trade for both teams as the division leading Rangers needed to replace the production of suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz.  Rios’ has been solid this year for the Sox despite their horrible season. His 2013 stats are .277 BA, 12 HR, 26 SB, and 55 RBIs, not exactly Cruz numbers, but numbers needed for the Rangers to make a solid playoff run.

Leury Garcia

The Sox receive an infielder with what some are saying, the skills of Rafeal Furcal – IF he gets into a program and improves his batting.  His 2013 stats aren’t the greatest at .192 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI and 236 OBP, but he is a work in progress.  Garcia has great arm strength and speed, which is what the Sox need desperately.

With the Rios trade and the recent Jake Peavy trade, the Sox will also gain financial freedom from this deal as they will now have at least $35 million available between now and 2014.

With the trade Sox fans will get a chance to see their future in “Little Miggy” Avisail Garcia who was acquired in the Peavy trade. Garcia is expected to make his debut in the second game of the doubleheader with the Twins this weekend.  Alex Rios got on twitter to thank the city of Chicago, the organization, his teammates and the fans.

Up next for the Sox…the possible trade of DH/First Baseman Adam Dunn and freeing up even more money for free agency and signing international players.  Unlike Alex Rios, Dunn cleared waivers so he can be traded to any team.  The issue is finding a team that needs a DH or marginal fielder with power.  If the Sox find that team, you can bet that Dunn will be the latest casualty of the dreaded 2013 season. Stay tuned…

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matt-garza traded

The Matt Garza era came to an end yesterday when the Cubs pitcher was traded to the Texas Rangers in a multi-player trade, capsule officially ending the “Garza Watch”.

Ironically, levitra within hours of the news breaking, the other ‘watch’ that captured headlines for almost the same amount of time – nine long months – ended with a new royal heir when Kate Middelton delivered a baby boy.

The Rangers were rumored to be the front runners in a trade for Garza, and many thought he would be dealt over the weekend. The weekend came and went without any activity with Manager Dale Sveum claiming Garza was “100%” guaranteed to start on Monday.

Mid-Monday afternoon it was announced that Chris Rusin would be starting in Garza’s place against the Diamondbacks, confirming suspicions that Garza had finally been traded.

Garza has been strong since his return from the DL earlier this summer after starting the season with an injured shoulder. Garza is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. He’s scheduled to join the Rangers today and start Wednesday against the New York Yankees.

In return for the highly sought-after Garza, the Cubs get four of the Rangers best prospects; Third Baseman Mike Olt, right-handed Pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and a fourth (and potentially fifth) unnamed player. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is pleased with the Cubs’ recent acquisitions.

“At the least, we added three pitchers, if not four, in addition to Mike Olt, and that’s the kind of depth we need both in power arms and some talented players,” said Hoyer. “Any time you trade a guy like Matt Garza, it doesn’t feel good because it’s a hard decision and you know that guys like Matt are the kind of guys you want to acquire, but we feel good about the depth and talent that we acquired for the Cubs today.”

Mike Olt

Mike Olt was named as the Rangers’ number 2 prospect heading into the season as has been mentioned as the foundation of the deal. According to CSN Chicago, “Olt has 40 home runs and 116 RBI in 163 Double and Triple-A games.” He was hit in the head by a pitch in a game and experienced concussion-like symptoms, including problems with his vision. If he stays healthy, Olt strong defense could make him great addition at third base. He’ll head to Iowa to join the team’s Triple-A affiliate.

Joining him in Iowa will be Justin Grimm. Grimm was drafted by Theo and Jed in 2007 during their tenure with the Red Sox. The other pitcher in the deal, C.J. Edwards, will head to Daytona. According to mlb.com’s Carrie Muskat, Edwards hasn’t given up a homerun in his last 160 innings.

Garza, a free agent after this year, will be heading to a playoff contending team in the Texas Rangers (55-44), who are currently second in the AL West. The Rangers last made appearances in the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Known for his wacky off-field antics (and his shaving cream pies), Garza will be missed by his teammates, several of whom tweeted their support for the veteran pitcher.

 

 

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Category: Cubs
Jose Quintana

It’s a good time to be a Sox fan in Chicago.  The White Sox finished off the Texas Rangers yesterday winning Game 3, pilule 2-1, sweeping the best team in baseball and humbling a loaded roster with 8 All-Stars.

What You Need to Know:

  • 23-year old rookie left-handed pitcher, Jose Quintana, pitched another gem of a game going 8 innings and only giving up 2 hits and 1 run in 103 degree heat.  Quintana has been on fire lately and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon heading into the All-Star Break.
  • Sox closer and fellow rookie, Addison Reed, also deserves props for his 12th save in his last 13 appearances – ridiculously good.
  • Newest White Sox, Kevin Youkilis continued to show his worth with his second homer of the series.  Youkilis had the ‘go-ahead run’ (term for the run that gives the team the lead that wins the game) in the 4th inning against Ranger’s All-Star pitcher, Matt Harrison.
  • The only buzz-kill to the afternoon was the news that Sox pitcher Jake Peavy did not win the fan’s Final Vote for the last spot on the AL All-Star roster, despite a huge out pour of fan and player support in a social media campaign titled “Take Jake” #takejake.  Ironically, the final spot went to Ranger’s pitcher, Yu Darvish.

    Jake Peavy

  • This is the first time the Rangers have been swept all season.  The Rangers entered this series as the best team in baseball, with a record 8 All-Stars on the upcoming roster.  They still lead the AL West and have the best win-loss record in MLB at 50-39 but have definitely been taken down a notch by the South Siders heading into the All-Star break.

Your Take Away Piece:  “It would’ve been great to see Peavy get a much-deserved slot in the All-Star game, but sweeping the Rangers at home where the Sox have struggled – is just as sweet and a bigger win for the entire team.”

What’s Next:  The Sox welcome the Toronto Blue Jays tonight for a 3-game series over the weekend before the official All-Star break begins on Monday.  The Jays are in last place in the uber-competitive AL East, but are still above 500 and are not a team to take lightly.  The Jay’s Jose Bautista is the leading home run slugger in MLB with 27 homers and will face Jake Peavy tonight at 7:10PM at the Cell.

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