Sunday, April 30, 2006

I believe I'll dust my broom (17-7)

Well! When Orlando Cabrera lined a two-run shot over the wall in the fifth to give the Angels a 5-3 lead, I thought two things: (1) two out of three won't be so bad, and (2) Jon Garland just is not the same pitcher he was last season. The second thought is mostly true (the Angels scored 5 runs off him with underlying numbers that ought to get them

The obvious problem with the first thought is the White Sox are better than even I think they are. They don't make a lot of mental mistakes, and they never give up. This is a professional team in the highest sense of that word. And, like a consummate professional team, when faced with a deficit, they systematically got the two runs back in the very next inning. And they can still play Ozzieball, tacking on a go-ahead run with a textbook top-of-the-ninth small-ball rally (single, pinch runner, steal, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch). Neil Cotts took the ninth and got his first save. If anyone was wondering, "Where was Jenks", I think the little detail of Anderson and Erstad being lefthanded hitters (and Jenks pitching the previous two nights) was the reason why. Cotts and Thornton looked good, and so did Politte as the White Sox stifled the Angels over the last three innings.

As I said, the White Sox don't make a lot of mental mistakes. The Angels did, when Tim Salmon ran his team out of the sixth, getting doubled off second while trying to score on a Texas Leaguer, and getting a baserunner killed on an ill-advised play in the top of the seventh with no outs. The Angels didn't get another baserunner after wasting two in a row.

The only batter hit by a pitch was Joe Crede. So much for the Ozzie-is-evil theories of Angel fans for one day. I'm waiting for news of Escobar's punishment. I'll wait a long time, I bet.

Other division notes as April comes to an end:
  • Detroit continues to treat the once-might Minnesota Twins as their personal whipping boys. Are they for real? Probably not. They are getting spectacular pitching, but Robertson and Verlander have very clear histories of fading on the backstretch. Baseball Prospectus 2006 points out, usefully, that Jim Leyland has a history of riding his starting pitchers into the ground. They are getting spectacular hitting from players who usually wind up in the doctor's office sooner or later. Leyland doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "day off". Detroit fans centainly deserve a thrill, and this team has enough veterans and talent to win 85 games, but I really don't think they can hang with the White Sox or the Indians for more than a couple of months.
  • Minnesota looks absolutely awful. Silva, Lohse, and Radke can't get anybody out at all, and except for Lohse, it's because of the long ball. Very low strikeout ratios are often a warning that a pitcher is living on the edge, and all three of them look like they slipped off into the abyss. The Twins don't have the offense to overcome mediocrity on the mound. This probably would mean Liriano into the rotation, except the Twins' financially have to try to recover at least two of the three tanked pitchers. However, looking forward, I can see Ron Gardenhire playing the role of British Vice-Admiral Beatty at Jutland, saying as his elegant battle cruisers exploded unexpectedly, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
  • Cleveland insists on plugging SS Jhonny Peralta into the three hole in their lineup, despite his .230/.284/.360 line. As Black Betsy graciously and generously points out, I was skeptical of Peralta's true level of ability before the season based on a record fattened by victimizing mop-up men last season. So far Peralta looks like he ought to be hitting ninth. But, hey, I'll take it. I love it when good teams misuse their resources, especially in the same division.
Thanks to Black Betsy for the Public Service Announcement. He really is too kind. I really don't care how many people read this; I write this blog for me. But I don't mind sharing it. If you're reading this far, thanks.

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