Before the first postseason game between the Rays and the White Sox down in the Sunshine State, I was feeling pretty good. Tampa Bay had lost 90 or more games for ten straight years, although this year the Devil Rays minus the Devil were able to put their losing ways behind them, and somehow win the AL East. I’m a math guy, so somehow 9=8 doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever works.
I’ve been lucky enough to be on hand at the Cell to witness first hand, what’s been working, and what hasn’t. I came in from Waupaca to watch Javier Vazquez spit it out, yet again, on Saturday vs the Indians. Which forced the Pale Hose into a jam whereby they needed to win three straight games against three different opponents to salvage a playoff berth. When the wheels came off and Vazquez was removed from the game, I screamed BOO louder than I’ve ever done so before. Let me explain something here. I am not a fan, who cheers a player on the top, and then boos them when they fall apart. Javier Vazquez has great stuff, probably the best stuff on the staff. But he refuses to trust his stuff and will not pitch inside. Often times he tries to be cute, enticing batters to swing at pitches just outside, falling behind in the count, and then getting clobbered. It’s maddening.
Anyway after winning the three games needed to get into postseason, it was time for the playoff series to begin. The Rays have a solid rotation, so I wasn’t sure whom they’d throw in game one, but I was positive the White Sox would start Mark Buehrle. Even though Vazquez has the best stuff, Buehrle is our #1, no doubt about it. I realized my Buehrle tee shirt was down in the dirty wash, pulled it out, but was shocked to find out, reading the paper, that Javier Vazquez was starting game one for Chicago.
This is the same Vazquez that Ozzie Guillen called out, saying, he was a choker & not a big game starter. That strategy didn’t work before Saturday’s game, so now he was showing him the ultimate confidence by starting him in the playoff opener. Wasn’t Ozzie paying attention, hadn’t he been watching this guy pitch? Surely Buehrle would’ve been pitching on three days rest, but he’d been doing it down the stretch, with positive results. With off days there was the possibility we wouldn’t have to see Javier start at all in the playoffs, but here he was, out there getting ready to get pounded by the lefthanded heavy lineup of the Rays. I was resigned to the fact, we’d be down 1-0 to a team that had never been to the postseason, giving them momentum.
Of course Vazquez did get pounded and the White Sox are now in a hole in a must win game #2 with Buehrle on the bump. A rookie lefthanded reliever Clayton Richard was brought on to relieve Javy, totally dominating the Rays batters, and I had to think, what might have been. The good thing is that Javier won’t be starting any more games in this series, hopefully not any more in a White Sox uniform (I purposely pictured him in a Yankee uniform, because I can’t stand seeing him in ours), but it might be too late. Hopefully the White Sox can climb out of this hole, with their backs against the wall, and defeat Tampa Bay.
Tags: Ozzie Guillen