The Aussie vs. the O-Cab, Round two. Who ya got?
Seriously, what was up with that yesterday? Did the Rays reliever/Aussie-accented Grant Balfour rush Orlando Cabrera with his first pitch in the 7th inning? Did Cabrera kick dirt at him to psyche him out? Shrimp on the Barbie jokes? Tell me!
Regardless, someone on some team in some inning is getting pegged today. And you can quote me on that.
And in case you missed all the fun, here's the strikeout set to Billy Joel. No lie.
It's Game 2 of the ALCS. And while Ozzie Guillen won't totally commit to saying it ("It's not a do-or-die thing, but I'd rather go home with one win than go against the wall")...
...I will: This is must-win, make-or-break, do-or-die game for your Chicago White Sox.
A veteran pitcher on the mound (who, yes, has had some road woes, just 4-9 away from the Cell) vs. a hot Rays team (stupid Evan Longoria, stupid 9=8 mantra). You don't want to go down 2-0 and return to that carpeted, domed hot mess with all those crazy mohawked fans. You just don't.
I don't care what Christopher Walken says, NO MORE COWBELL. Where's giant magnet when you need it...
New lineup today for the AL Central champs: Dewayne Wise and his three-run homer take a seat in favor of switch-hitter Nick Swisher. And Ken Griffey Jr. rides the pine for righty Brian Anderson. You like?
Swish needs to put on his big-boy pants today and snap out of that 3-for-21 funk against today's Rays starter Scott Kazmir. Anderson too; he's hitless in six at-bats vs. the lefty Kazmir.
Kazmir will rely primarily on a fastball-changeup combination, while I shall use a venti Starbucks beverage and a chocolate doughnut to keep me on top of things today.
Here's the full lineup with the Rays people too. UPDATE: Carlos Pena is a late scratch with eye issues again.
Comment board is below. My email is here. Who gets hit first?
Baseball soon. But first a studio update: Dennis Eckersley doesn't like chocolate, so for 54th his birthday the TBS crew gave him a giant lemon square. And a photo montage of his 'stache. Nice.
Also from the stuido, an interview with Ozzie where he states he likes Balfour's egdy approach. Shocker!
Fred Mitchell on TV! Some dap for the Trib.
Kazmir has allowed eight homers in his last two starts...and you know how much the White Sox dig the long ball. Cal Ripken's pick to click is no one. Thanks for playing Cal. Eck thinks Buehrle will be good today. Then finally, Cal picks Konerko. Somewhere Hawk is smiling. It's chilly 85 degrees in St. Pete today with wind out of the NE at 9 mph. Not that any of this matter because of the Dome. Dome. Grrrr. Don Orsillo and Harold Reynolds and are your TBS crew. Wasn't there a third yesterday? And it looks like Ozzie has stolen a cowbell. God help us all.
Let's start this thang! Kazmir's first pitch to Cabrera is fouled off for strike one. Grey unis for the Sox. And the next one plunks Cabrera around the inside, back leg. Who had O-Cab in the pool? High socks for Swisher and he takes two straight balls. 3-1 is outside too and Swish draws the walk. Two on for Dye. High strike (92 mph) on JD. Harold thinks O-Cab was pegged on purpose. You? 0-2 for Dye now. Cutter ball is just Inside as the cowbells go a-clangin'. Low in the dirt evens things up at 2-2. JD rips one to left (over a leaping Eva) for a single and that makes the bases loaded. Ball one to Konerko. Grant Balfour walks to the bullpen (G'day) and gets some love from the fans. Ball two. Ball three outside. Rays continue to change their signs with Swish glaring in at the catcher from second. Sneaky. Strike one (90 mph fastball) just in there to make it 3-1. Konerko takes strike two. Gets ahold of one but it's just foul down the LF-line. Another foul. Somewhere Hawk is saying "Ball-four basehit right here. C'mon 1-4." 8th pitch of his at-bat is popped up to the second baseman in the infield. Everyone stays put. Big Jim Thome now. Swing and a miss on a slider. Thome is 0-for-13 vs. Kazmir. Singles a single to RF, Cabrera scores and it's White Sox 1-0. Bullet that bounced on the far infield grass. So bases still loaded for Alexei Ramirez. C'mon, show Eva who is the real ROY. 0-1, 0-2. Ramirez takes the 1-2 pitch to LF, Crawford catches it for the second out. But Swish tags and it's White Sox 2-0. No tagging (hehe) by the other runners. And the boos from the crowd mean AJ is batting. Broken bat squibber down the 3B-line (he totally meant to do that) and the bases are loaded again. Take that turf (even Eva was confused by the ball's path)! Uribe now. Swings and misses and the count is 2-2. Fouled off strike three to stay alive. Another foul. Strikes out swinging to end things. Kazmir threw 37 pitches in the first.
White Sox 2-0.
Buehrle whittled a nice wood statue with all his free time in the dugout. First pitch to Akinori Iwamura is fouled off. Pops the next one to shallow left and Swish handles the dome-lighting for the catch. Buehrle gets ahead of Upton 1-2 before pitching a ball to even things up. And then strike three called (crowd doesn't like it). First base coach and the first base ump have a nice little chat. Crawford fouls off Buehrle's first offering. Another slapped foul to left and it's 0-2. Chops the 1-2 up the middle, Cabrera tries to barehand it but can't. No throw, safe at first. Ruled a single because of the speed of Crawford. Ball one high (at his belt?) to Eva(n) Longoria. 1-1 is hit right to Alexei at second for the out. Eva grounds out to Alexei to end the inning and it's a nice 1-2-3-4 for Buehrle. My bad. It's early in the day for me.
White Sox 2-0.
No. 9 hitter Brian Anderson is up first. He flies out to center for out No. 1. Weakly, adds our preps sports editor. Crowd boos O-Cab. He fouls off the first one and Perez comes flying out of nowhere to catch it. Falls into the bullpen doing so. Fernando Perez has some wheels. Two down for Swish. Dugout-cam shows the Sox staff working on Cabrera's ankle. Hmmm. Some old man is yelling right behind the cameras. Someone hit him with a cowbell. Swish walks for the second time today. TBS shows us the rules for the catwalk and yeah, no clue. Ball one to JD. 2-2 pitch is lined to left for JD's second single of the game; Swish to second. Double-barrel action now in the Rays' pen. Konerko takes ball one. Pops it up to the shortstop in the grassy outfield area for the third out. Sox strand two.
White Sox 2-0.
Ball one from Buehrle to Aybar to start things. Aybar shifted from DH to first due to Pena's eye boo-boo. He singles one to left just under the reach of Uribe. Baldelli lines the 0-1 right to Ramirez for the first out. Alexei tries to double-him up at first but the throw flies into the Rays' dugout. Umps award Aybar third since he was on the move-ish. That is so not fun. So one out, man on third for Navarro. Fouls two pitches off down the 3B-line. Navarro then hits in the opposite way to right for a single and that will score Aybar. White Sox 2-1. Perez now. Buehrle throws over to first but nothing doing. Strike one for Perez. Swinging strike two. Chopped into LF for a single right in between O-Cab and Uribe, two on. AJ comes out to chat with Buehrle-man. Bartlett used to play for the Twins, which means we don't like it. Fouls off strike one. Grounds it to Alexei, who starts the 4-6-3 DP. No more wild throws please. Thanks.
White Sox 2-1.
Looks like it will be last call for Jimbo's soon. Mmmmm, beer. Thome up first in this inning. Big hack for strike one. Kazmir at 57 pitches; the shift is on for Thome. Hits it the other way but right into Crawford's mitt in left. One out. Alexei takes strike one. Harold Reynolds thinks the Sox missed their window with Kazmir after only scoring two in the first inning. Pitch count is high though...so...Alexei pops up the 1-1 to Barlett at third and there are two outs. Boos = AJ bats. Harold Baines is still absent on the first-base line. Feel better Harold. Quickly 0-2 for AJ. Fouls one off then tries to hold up on a high heater, but nyet.
White Sox 2-1.
Weird disease: Tell me what Rocco has. JR: Howdy. Murphy's Bleacher: Sorry, but you are mistaken. Those Wrigleyville bars are too fratty for my taste. Buehrle works against lead-off man Iwamura first. Shows bunt, but pulls back. Uribe charges then has to retreat. Chases a low strike three for the first out. Here's Upton. He runs the count to full before flying out to Dye for the second out. Crawford bounces out to Buehrle to end things.
White Sox 2-1.
Spiderpig, the remix. I have a little secret: I've never watched an episode of the Simpsons. Honestly. I know, I'm ashamed of me too. Kazmir at 67 pitches. TBS keeps showing the catwalks, they are begging for some weird play to happen. Uribe takes ball one. Ugh, I said this a few days ago, but aerial views make me queasy. After fouling off two, Uribe goes down on strikes. For the second time today. Here's BriAnderson. Some goofy swings from Brian and it's 1-2. Strike three called; fastball on the inside corner at 92 mph. Harold: Kazmir is feeling it now. Boos = Cabrera batting. What? It's not his fault he got hit in the first inning. Gah. Fastball in for strike one. Lines the next one to right for a one-hop single. Swish takes strike one as Cabrera fakes running. Runner going and Swisher punches it into right for a single. First and second, two outs for JD. 0-2 after some foul balls. Chops the next one to a charging Iwamura for the third out. Sox strand two more. That's 7 today. Can't do that boys!
White Sox 2-1.
Media-darling Eva is up first. Drives the first pitch to deep left but it goes just foul. Weird-o dome rules. Buehrle gets Eva to trash some ball in the dirt for a strikeout. That's Buehrle's third K today. Next batter Aybar doubles down the 3B-line out of Uribe's dive, Swish kinda tumbles running for it. Has to fix his socks. Baldelli and his weird illnes takes strike one. 2-1 is popped up to AJ and he sticks with it for the second out. AJ has dome-experience. Here's the catcher Navarro. He grounds it to third, Uribe fields and fires to first. Rays strand one (third today). Ha!
White Sox 2-1.
Here's a photo of O-Cab falling down after being HBP in the first. It's night in St. Pete's now. Perhaps that will make fielding in a white dome easier. Konerko is up first vs. Kazmir (83 pitches). 1-2 hole for the captain before he grounds it past Kazmir and into Iwamura's glove for the 4-3 out. Thome now. First pitch strike. 1-1 is hit right to the first baseman for the unassisted out. Alexei has himself a two-out single past the second baseman. Ball his the outside fringe of the grass behind Iwamura. Boos = AJ. He hits the first pitch to deep short, where Bartlett makes a nice backhanded play and flips to second for the force. Another man left behind. Never leave a man behind!
White Sox 2-1.
I wish I had a giant red umbrella to fly around it. Sure would save me money on gas. Buehrle (58 pitches) vs. Perez now. Hits the first offering to Uribe, who fields it in the grass and fires ahead of the speed Perez. Come on Timo. Come on Timo. Come on Timo. Ex-Twin Bartlett has himself a single to left on an 86 mph fastball over the plate. Iwamura takes the 1-1 pitch deep, real deep. Like home run deep and the Rays are ahead 3-2. Nice mohawk. Upton flies out to Konerko in foul ground for the second out. Crawford grounds out to end things. But the damge, she is done. Darn damage.
Buehrle at 70 pitches. The Trib sports department grilled out tonight: Hot dogs and brats. Come and over. Let's see, Uribe-Anderson-Cabrera are up this frame. 93 for Kazmir. Sox need to pounce. Pounce. Grant Balfour (Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi) is up the bullpen. 2-2 to Uribe and he grounds it up middle for a leadoff single. Anderson square and bunts to advance Uribe. Nice basics. Joe Maddon pulls Kazmir to set up the grudge matchup: Balfour vs. Cabrera. YES! Giving the people what they want. Replays of yesterday's dust up and we are set. Balfour's first pitch is high. Quick pitch? Big swinging strike (95 mph fastball) by O-Cab. Balfour, I'm told, yells after the throws the pitch. Yells at himself, not the batter. Right. Foul ball (96 mph). Next one is hit to second for the 4-3 out; Uribe moves to third. I wanted a plunking, there goes my movie script (Cabrera is plunked, lifts up shirt to reveal a "Balfour sucks" tattoo). Swish takes ball one. Ball two. Fouls off a 95 mph fastball. Just missed a cookie, per Hawk. Then flies out to Crawford to end things. Another men is left standing on a base that isn't home. Rats.
Still Mark Buehrle on the mound. He faces Eva first. Eva is batting .600 in this ALDS. Silly playoff stats. Rips a baseknock to left on a changeup left sitting there for him. Aybar bunts it up the 3B-line to advance his buddy Eva...and he does. One out. Ball one to Baldelli. Fouls one off of AJ's head, knocking his mask off. Ouch. Harold: "I could never be a catcher." Hits the next one deep to LF just shy of the track for out No. 2. Eva stays at second. Don Cooper walks out to some techno music (sadly, he does not stop to dance as he left his glowstick at home) to chat with Buehrle-man. Navarro bats. Strike one. Grounds the next sharply to Uribe who makes the 5-3 out. TBS: "Buehrle is out of a jam." Jam? One man on? Sure.
The Wisconsin marching band has been suspended from Saturday's game against Ohio State for hazing. Adjust your fantasy teams accordingly. Balfour stays in for the Rays and he gets JD first. Quickly 0-2 as Balfour keeps talking to himself on the mound. That's a little disturbing, because I don't think he's saying nice things about himself. A foul and then a laser of a hit to the first baseman, who knocks it down but can't make a play. The ball ricochets away and JD stands on first. Paulie! Paulie! Paulie! He has a single (his first of the day) by hitting it to the hole in left. Here comes the Rays skipper and he pulls the tall Aussie crazyman. Lefty J.P. Howell is the new dude (2.22 ERA, 6-1 in the regular season). And he gets Thome first with two on and no outs. Ball one, ball two. Strike one. Gets jammed, muscles it out to CF where Upton makes the catch. Runners stay put as the ball was hit shallow. Pitching coach trots out to discuss strategy with Howell. It's Cuban Missile time. Takes strike one. Takes strike two, inside corner. That was not a strike. That ball dove down, Ozzie doesn't like it either. 88 mph fastball is ball one. Foul ball as Alexei crowds the plate. Hits the next one right to a jumping Bartlett at short for the second out. Ugh. Boos = AJ at the plate. How much would AJ love to stick it to these fans right now? But not, he grounds out to first on the first pitch and the Sox strand two more.
Sox hits? 10. Sox LOB? 11. Buehrle still. TBS says the Sox's frustration is boiling over. Perez grounds it to a kneeling Uribe at third for the first out. Buehrle at 85 pitches. Here's Bartlett. Matt Thornton and Octavio Dotel are warming up in the bullpen. Bartlett pops up to Konerko in foul ground for the second out. Iwamura now. TBS said this is one of the fastest games based on time. As opposed to measuring things by gumdrops and hearts. Buehrle gets Iwamura to ground out to second to end this frame.
How many will the Sox strand this inning? Bets? Howell vs. Uribe to start things. Quickly 0-2 on the goatee-No. 8 hitter. Uribe twists to get out of the way, but it's a called third strike. Harold calls this pitch the "devastator" because of how it confuses batters. Clever. BriAnderson takes strikes one. After an ugly swing and a ball, strike three (curveball) is called on him too. Boos = Cabrera is batting. Howell has retired all the batters he has faced. How rude. Strike one to Cabrera. Foul ball and it's 0-2. Takes a ball and that didn't miss by much. That stops the cowbells for a moment. Cabrera has a two-out basehit, swinging and connecting on a breaking ball. Swish now...he who took DeWise's spot in the outfield, who hit a three-run blast yesterday. Two-run HR would be mighty fine right now. He's 0-for-3 (3 strikeouts) lifetime vs. Howell. Takes ball one. Ball two. Ball three. Strike one. Strike two (both takes). Full count and he watches strike three go. From 3-0 to striking out looking on three pitches? Ugh. Makes me want to return my Swisher bobblehead.
Hi Erstad's manliness. You helped on Tuesday night, do it again! Go be manly around the Sox dugout. They need to man-up. Upton up first vs. Buehrle (95 pitches). Three straight balls. Strike, but then Upton gets ahold of one and drives it to LCF (while the Sox were shading to RCF) and he has himself a single. Anderson had to run a long way to get that one. Crawford takes ball one inside. Crawford bloops a Twin-like single to left, Upton comes home to score and it's Rays 4-2. Harold: "The lead-off triple is such a great play." Yes. Yes. O-Dotel replaces Buehrle on the mound. And his prize? He gets to face Eva. Pickoff attempt to first, but Crawford gets back. Harold thinks Crawford will be running early. Strike one to Eva. Crawford runs on the 1-1 pitch, no throw (no chance) by AJ. At least it wasn't an error...strike two swinging by Eva. And Eva goes down on strikes. One out. Here comes Ozzie, but it looks just like a conversation with O-Dotel and AJ. Aybar grounds the first pitch to Alexei at second for the second out. Crawford moves to third. Baldelli lines the first pitch to CF for a single; Crawford comes home to score and it's Rays 5-2. Here comes Ozzie again, but this time he pulls Dotel and replaces him with lefty Matt Thornton. Rahula says a not very nice word as the Rays' speakers play "Blues Brothers" music. Navarro fouls off the first pitch from Thornton. Navarro hits the third pitch to CF. And hilarity ensues: Ramirez, Anderson and Dye watch the ball drop in between them. Baldelli comes home from first well ahead of Ramirez's throw and it's Rays 6-2. Navarro now stands on second with Perez up. Ridiculous. That speed would be nice to have. 1-2 to Perez. He then grounds out to Uribe at third to end things.
So a doable one-run hole is now a much steeper mountain in a four-run hole. Sidewinder Chad Bradford is the new Rays reliever. His knuckles almost touch the ground on the release. That's just wacky. JD fouls off the 1-1 and it's 1-2. Fouls off another and it falls into the Rays dugout ahead of a sliding Navarro. Another foul. Takes a ball to even things. Offspeed breaking ball just out of the zone. You are a brave man, JD. Another foul. Yeah, work up that pitch count! And another foul. Another foul. 10th pitch is fouled off too. Guess what happened? Another foul. Another foul. Quite the battle. 13th pitch is...lined right to Bartlett, who drops it. He recovers and throws but the throw pulls Aybar off the bag. Tag is not in time. Or, it was totally in time and the ump totally missed it. Wow, terrible call. Dye ducked, Aybar tagged him on the back...but JD gets to stay at first. Hit, no error. Here's Paulie. Foul. Foul. Foul. What's with these dudes? Soft grounder to third starts the 5-4-3 DP. The other guy (not Harold) is surprised the Rays were able to turn it. Dude, this is Konerko. He trots. Two down for Thome. Shift = on. Takes strike one. Strike two. Strike three called. And this ballgame is OVA.
Final thoughts: Leave 12 on base? Probably gonna lose. 54 have been down 0-2 in a series; only seven have come back. White Sox offense needs to kick it into gear, but playing at the Cell will probably help. Another blackout on Sunday? Come back to the cubicle and we'll have all the action starting at 3 p.m. Cheers.