Sunday, 1 June 2008

Maybe hits are overrated anyway...

Chicago White Sox 0 - Tampa Bay Rays 2

Our series of ever-decreasing hits continued last night, as we racked up only five against the Sox and Javier Vasquez. To be fair, Chicago only managed four themselves, and our five looked as though they would be plenty, thanks to having number 19 on the mound.

Scott Kazmir continued his fantastic start to the season, throwing 7 innings, allowing only 3 hits and striking out six. With the win, he becomes the first Ray to win five in a month, and moves his record on the season to 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA. In fact, excluding his first, shaky start off the DL, he has pitched to a ridiculous 0.55 ERA. And you know the scary thing? He's still not quite at his best - yesterday he was plagued by foul balls, ramping up his pitch count prematurely. When he really gets his slider going, he's...well, I can't wait.

The last six outs to complete the shutout of Chicago came courtesy of five pitchers in the temporary closer-by-committee. Actually, I somewhat suspect that Joe Maddon would have preferred to use fewer, but both Al Reyes and Dan Wheeler were a little shaky, getting one out, but allowing baserunners. Trever Miller and Grant Balfour (making his first appearance since being recalled, and earning his first save) got the final two outs, following Wheeler in the ninth, but the key effort was from JP Howell in the eighth. He came in with a runner on second, and struck out Jim Thome and Carlos Quentin to end the threat.

Thanks to the great effort by the pitchers, the two runs that our hitters put on the board were more than enough. The first scored on a groundout from BJ Upton in the third, and the second on Cliff Floyd's second homer in as many games in the fourth.

That moves us 12-over, at 34-22, still a game ahead of the Red Sox. Tonight, Andy Sonnanstine is on the hill against Mark Buerhle. Sonny needs to put in a good display after two consecutive weak outings - with so many pitchers on good form, and more waiting in the wins, the pressure is on in every start. Its a great situaion to be in!

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