Monday, July 18, 2005

Back on Track

After absorbing the first chink in their armor - a lost weekend against the A's to conclude the first half of the season - the White Sox bounced back by sweeping four straight from the Indians, in Cleveland no less. Talk about the All-Star Break being a good chance to rejuvenate.

The pitching in Cleveland was splendid. If I remember correctly, the starting pitching gave up a combined three earned runs in the four games. Wow. Just like Mark Buehrle pitched a 1-0 win to beat the Indians on Opening Day, Jose Contreras opened the Sox' return from All-Star festivities with another 1-0 win over the same Indians. I like the vibes.

Contreras needed that performance. And he needs to keep doing that. Fellow Cuban Livan Hernandez returns to the mound to open against the Tigers tonight, this after his second stint on the injured list for a sore shoulder. If he keeps getting hurt, he's going to be sooooooo fresh for the playoffs. At least that's what I keep telling himself.

And, of course, Magglio Ordonez returns to the Cell to play for the first time, meaning everyone has done their best to be polite following the Ozzie-Maggs blown-out-of-proportion media feud earlier in the season. In other words, Ozzie Guillen hasn't gone off. It's been all good, as it should be. Maggs was awesome while he was here and never ruffled feathers.

The most important Sox news, though, is Joe Crede's sudden decision to sport the all-out sideburns. This can only be a good sign that he's getting down to business for the second half of the season.

Hell, if Crede grows those 'burns into full-on, '70's style, wild chops, the Sox should be in great shape.

These would also be a nice choice:

Meanwhile, ex-Cub Kyle Farnsworth will be in town with the Tigers. Perhaps he will meander back to Wrigleyville. And perhaps he will beat somebody up in a bar brawl, which would be particulary funny after he pummeled the Royals Jeremy Affeldt yesterday. He's good at pummeling batters. He has perfected the body slam, going after Affeldt with the same exact move he subdued the Reds' Paul Wilson with in 2003 in Farnsworth's most infamous moment.

I'm thinking the next batter that feels the urge to charge Farnsworth will think better of it and instead point at the mound, appear really angry, and say, "You better not do that again or...or else!"

And Farnsworth will look at him and say, "Or else what?"

Farnsworth, to his credit, has apparently been pitching well with the Tigers, meaning one of his patented meltdowns is surely imminent. This is good news for the Sox.

The Cubs - the hopelessly up-and-down Cubs - have won six of seven. So I'm assuming the next Cubs six-game losing streak is due any day now. Right? Playing Cincinnati next will help. Four games against the hapless Reds is a good opportunity to fatten yourself up get nice and tug in that wildcard race.

I feel the need to give a shout out to Ken Griffey, Jr. who comes to Wrigley Field quietly having a banner year. It's nice to see after Griffey's long years in exodus due to injury.


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