ONE WEEK LATER

One week ago I went to the Cell hoping the White Sox could beat Zack Greinke & the KC Royals. The White Sox weren’t hitting and Greinke has really turned his career around and is now one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Ozzie Guillen was ripping his GM Kenny Williams a new one, after a Sun Times columnist wrote about the slumping Sox. Now that same columnist was saying Williams needed to fire Guillen, if he had any self respect.

Yesterday I went to the Cell for the seventh straight time in seven days. What a difference one week makes, seven days, seven wins in a row, and everything is working on the Southside of Chicago. Other than Ozzie’s tirade, he also made some changes to his batting order, those changes more than anything else seem to have done the trick. That, and, these professional hitters seem to have found their sweet spots. The batting order that is doing it is; 1) Cabrera SS, 2) Pierzynski C (moving A.J. here was pure genius), 3) Quentin LF, 4) Konerko 1B, 5) Thome DH, 6) Dye RF, 7) Swisher CF, 8) Crede 3B, 9) Ramirez 2B.

Williams has gone out on a limb building this baseball club. People thought he was goofy picking up A.J. (nothing but trouble) Pierzynski, swapping blue chip prospects for Quentin & Swisher, for resigning Dye, for not getting something for Crede before he walks, and for signing a 26 year old Cuban in Ramirez with no major league experience & thinking he could help now.

But besides the hitting, the pitching has been doing the trick, both starting & relief. Jose Contreras seems to be over his personal problems, including his divorce. Javier Vazquez has always had the stuff, but now he’s winning with that stuff. Gavin Floyd, where did we get him from? I don’t know how he’s getting them out, but it’s working! John Danks is a southpaw with a fastball, where is Brandon McCarthy? Rounding out the starting staff is Mark Buehrle, he’s been knocked around a little, but you know he’ll be there in the end.

Speaking of the end, Bobby Jenks was picked off the Angels scrap pile not long ago and is now one of the most consistent closers in the game. Scott Linebrink works the 8th inning, if there’s a better hold guy out there, I’d like to see him. The two leftys Matt Thornton & Boone Logan have been solid, and they can get righties out as well. Then there’s strikeout artist, Octavio Dotel, raise your hand if you thought he was through. Now Nick Masset has been shifted to short relief with the addition of Esteban Loaiza. The Sox even have MacDougal & Wassermann in the minors.

It looked like rain would cancel the makeup game between the Sox and Minnesota, but it couldn’t dampen this fan’s spirit as I headed to the Cell. Got there in plenty of time to visit with Dick & Bea about their Friday Ozzie Luncheon, say hi to Nancy Faust, and touch base with Caramel Corn Mike about his (along with Tade, Anthony, & Dan) trip to see the Sox Wednesday & Thursday in Detroit. I’d have gone, but will be celebrating my grandmother’s 97th birthday with the family instead. Wolfed down a pretzel & some vodka/lemonade and it was time to Play Ball!

With one out Chicago jumped to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd when Jim Thome scored from second after doubling on a Jermaine Dye single, it was bang-bang at the plate. But things seemed different as Joe Crede bounced into a doubleplay to end the inning after Nick Swisher walked. Crede not hitting a three run bomb? Would things be different today? Would the streak end? Who is this Perkins guy starting for the Twins?

I moved into the seating area, standing right behind Rob and his daughter Kim. I know better, never change anything, when on a streak. Top of the 4th John Danks walks Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau doubles him to 3rd, Michael Cuddyer singles home Mauer, with Morneau taking 3rd & Cuddyer taking 2nd when Quentin holds the ball & then throws it away, both score on a Jason Kubel double. Quickly I move back behind the chain, the scoring stops. Swisher hits a homer from the right side in the bottom of the inning to cut it to a 3-2 game, don’t tempt fate.

I’m standing where I should be, but Mauer rips a two out single to right, goes to 3rd on a Morneau single to left, Morneau takes 2nd on Quentin’s throw to 3rd, both score on Cuddyer’s double. Good Guys are down 5-2 and it’s not looking good.

Bottom of the 6th, Thome draws a one out walk, & Jesse Crain replaces Perkins, whoever he is, I’m glad he’s gone. Wishing Perkins was still in the game when Crain fans Dye on three pitches. Moments later it’s a 5-4 game after Swisher batting from the left side hits his 2nd home run of the game.

Then after singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, it was time to get to work. Orlando Cabrera greets new Twins pitcher Matt Guerrier with a double to left. I fully expected Alexei Ramirez to bunt the tying run to 3rd, but Alexei singles to right, making it 1st & 3rd, with nobody out. Quentin’s force play 6-4 scores Cabrera and ties the game at five. Pull hitter Paul Konerko hits an opposite field two run dinger to right that proves to be the difference, rather than trying to pull it and grounding into an inning ending DP. Matt Thornton, who’d relieved starter Danks in the top of the 7th was the winner, with Scott Linebrink working a pefect 8th, striking out two.

Then it was time for Big Bad Bobby Jenks! He’d be facing the top of the order, with Morneau to bat if anybody got on. I was standing in my usual spot, the same spot I was standing in when Bobby blew the save against KC, a game we went on to win in 15 innings. Carlos Gomez doubled, followed by an Alexi Casilla single, and it was time for me to sit my butt down with Mauer stepping in there. Just in time, as Mauer grounded back to Jenks, who looked Gomez back to 3rd, then fired to second, on to first for a doubleplay, with Gomez still at 3rd. When Morneau hit a harmless grounder on the first pitch the game was over and the streak was not, 7-5 White Sox, streak alive at seven games.

Kim & I left the game after saying goodbye to Nancy and wishing Mike a good time in Detroit. As we left the ballpark, it started raining, we were drenched by the time we met Rob with the car. Drenched, but happy, of course the rain stopped as we got into the car.

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