AJ gets away with it all: Interference on the base path, running out a dropped strike, pretending he hates his wife. Yesterday, he waved his bat just as the Rays catcher attempted to throw out Dewayne Wise at second.
If anyone else did this stuff, he'd just be another tool. But it's AJ, and we love him for it. Can't wait to see what he does for an encore today.
As for today, it's another biggie for the White Sox, who like to be in the "backs-up-against-the-wall" position. It was just last Monday (seriously, that was only a week ago?) that the boys in black had to beat the lowly Tigers just for a chance to advance and play the Twins for a chance to advance to play the Rays.
In that Tigers game, Gavin Floyd won his 17th game of the season by throwing six innings of five-hit ball. AJ (who else?) said Floyd was really nervous heading into that game. Ozzie called Floyd's performance the one with the biggest heart and stomach."
Wait, did Ozzie just call Floyd fat? Just kidding.
Andy Sonnanstine takes the mound for the Rays. He's 1-0 vs. the Sox this season, but he was just 6-5 on the road. So there!
Sox recorded their 10th win of the season without smacking a home run yesterday. And people say boys can't change. Small ball? Is that you? Well hello old friend.
Some ESPN analyst today said Floyd's curveball could be the game-changer for the Sox, especially if shade takes over the field, thus disguising the pitch even more. Combine that with the Sox's "Rolling Blackout" and a 54-28 home record, and the Cell is soooo the place to be today. Unless you have to work or just like my company, then you came to the right place!
I can't say anything more that hasn't been said in the previous five Sox cubicles this week. Let's get ready to rumble (nice tan buddy).
Lineups are here: Same as yesterday with stud DeWise batting eighth again. The Rays have inserted ex-Cub Cliff Floyd into the DH spot to replace Willy Aybar and Gabe Gross takes over right for Rocco Baldelli.
Cloudy but warmer weather conditions. Winds out the east at 10 to 15 mph. No green on the doppler. Woohoo.
Comment board is below. My email is here. What are you going to be for Halloween?
Baseball soon. DeWise is ready to DeGo and DeWin this DeGame 4.
TBS' Curtis Granderson said Floyd is a really good pitcher. Because Floyd beat him last week. Love the personal anecdotes, TBS!
Now for the TBS picks for Game 4...Curtis: Sox win; Cal: Rays win; Eck: Sox win.
Truthbtold: They had the white hankies yesterday; looked creepy/cool against the black t-shirts. Don Orsillo and Harold Reynolds are high above the plate today. I bet Hawk boobey-trapped his booth. Lights are on at the Cell, Floyd is finishing up his warmups. Thunderstuck. Towel waving. First batter up is Akinori Iwamura...and first pitch is a...strike and we are underway. Harold says Floyd rarely shakes off AJ, so AJ is basically in charge of this whole game. Fun! Two straight balls are followed by a liner right into Uribe's glove for out No. 1. Uribe was playing even with the grass. B.J. Upton, who belted a two-run shot yesterday, takes strike one. 2-1 is lifted to deep left and that's outta here. Rays 1-0. Upton faced Floyd in high school (!) so he knows Gavin's stuff. Clearly. Pena grounds the first pitch to the right of second base bag for a single. Evan Longoria takes ball one. Big swing and a miss evens things at 1-1. TBS measures the lead of Pena at first with green and red arrows. Seems silly to me. Floyd falls behind 2-1 but comes back with a cutter for (called) and a curveball (swinging) for the strikeout and second out. Sit down Eva. Crawford takes strike one. First time batting fifth for Crawford, foul tip makes it 1-2. TBS says Dioner Navarro hit Crawford in the face with his bat during batting practice today. Ouch. Pena steals second on the 1-2 pitch, AJ's throw was a little high. So 2-2 to Crawford. Foul. Grounds the next one to Ramirez at second to end things.
Carlos Quentin keeps rehabbing...I'm still peeved. Orlando Cabrera is up first, he really needs to be more productive. Sonnanstine's first pitch to O-Cab is a strike. O-Cab is 2-for-12 this series. Ball one. Lines the next right to the first baseman for the first out. Hey, look what I found! Here's AJ. 1-1 pitch is ripped down the 1B-line, but just foul. Karl Marx is behind the Rays bullpen again. Nice beard! Next pitch is deep, deep to right field...but Gabe Gross leaps and robs AJ of a homer. I wonder if Rocco would have caught that? That would have bounced off the top of the fence and bounced out. Hawk: "Dadgummit." Strike one to JD. 2-1 is fouled off and bounces off the ump. Ball three is in the dirt. Ball four is just out of the zone (91 mph cutter). Here's Thome. First pitch is a ball. Huge hole on the left side for him. Two called strikes (one questionable curveball) and it's 1-2. 2-2 is swung upon and missed. One stranded.
Michael Myers is at the Cell. They should play that music to creep out the Rays. Floyd bats now. The 1-0 pitch just misses and the crowd groans. Next one is sliced the opposite way to DeWise in left field. One out. Jenks on the cowbells: That's stupid. Jenks on the blackout idea: That guy is a genius. First pitch strike to Navarro, followed by a foul for the 0-2 hole. Strike three swinging on a nasty curveball. Gabe Gross now as AJ stews behind homeplate. Little sun now at the Cell, TBS shows men squinting in the stands. 3-1 to Gross...and Floyd walks him. Jason Bartlett in the 9-spot now. Pickoff try to first, but nothing doing. Strike one to Bartlett. Grounds the next to Cabrera at short, who throws to Alexei for the force at second.
Konerko up first for the Sox. Takes strike one from Sonnanstine (18 pitches through one). Curveball is popped foul. And another foul. Sonnanstine shakes off Navarro, then they agree and then Konerko rips a single to CF off a breaking ball. Junior takes ball one, then grounds hte next softly to second. Iwamura starts the 4-6-3 DP, but Junior beats out the throw. Alexei takes ball one as the crowd stands up. Give 'em something to yell about (in a good way, no bad yelling please). Takes a strike to even things at 1-1. Chops the next pitch foul down the 1B-line. In the dugout, Konerko talks to Greg Walker. Those two have the same facial hair. Swirling wind blowing in from LCF. 1-2 is high and it's 2-2. Lifts one to left, but Crawford is there in time to catch it. Two outs for DeWise. He was huge yesterday. He has 5 of the Sox's 11 RBIs this series. Takes strike one. Swing and miss and it's quickly 0-2. C'mon DeWise. Bring Junior DeHome. Lays off some high heat. And some outside junk for the 2-2 count. Lifts the next to CF but Upton is there to catch it. Sigh.
An action movie called "The Librarian"? Hmmm. Floyd stands at 33 pitches. And he faces Iwamura first. Ball one. Called strike followed by two balls. And then a flyout to Wise in left for the first out. The wind pushed that one from Junior to Wise. The dangerous Upton now. Drops a bunt foul down the 3B-line and it's a 1-2 count. Next one is inside, crowd and Floyd wanted that curveball to be a strike. Foul. Low ball in the dirt and we've got ourselves a full count. Foul. Towels wave. Upton hits is real far again, up and over Junior's head in CF for another homer. Rays 2-0. Seriously? Time for the intentional walk treatment. Wind is now coming in, but that didn't seem to bother Upton. Strike one to Pena. Strike two swinging. Another miss and Pena strikes out. 2 K's, 2 HRs from Floyd's arm today. Longoria takes ball one. Swing and a miss evens things at 2-2. And Longoria strikes out swinging too. Now if only Floyd could get out that Upton...
Home run ball, meet the White Sox. White Sox, meet the home run ball. Uribe takes strike one low. Slices one to right and Gross catches it for the out. O-Cab and his dirty helmet takes ball one. And Sonnanstine jams O-Cab and he pops up to the first baseman right on the line. Quickly two gone for AJ. Strike one and a foul makes it quickly 0-2. Sonnanstine and Navarro can't agree, finally do and AJ fouls it off. AJ bounces out to short to end things. Where did the offense go? They've lost that hitting feeling.
Seriously. C'mon. Clap. Crawford takes ball one from Floyd, and he takes ball two too. TBS needs to do an interview with the bearded gentleman. And the dreaded leadoff walk is registered to Crawford. Rats. Interview with Cooper (hey, forget about it. Bada bing.). Coop says Floyd needs more ground balls as he's pelted (once again) by sunflower seeds from a variety of folk, including the leader Ozzie. How will Coop deal with the seeds? "Pick them up and eat them." Ump calls time real late as Floyd fires in a strike down the middle to Floyd. Unfair. Cliff Floyd then fouls one off to make it 0-1. Couple moves to first, but Crawford gets back. Ball one misses, the crowd heckles the ump. Foul is out of play as Konerko gives chase. Low ball and it's 2-2. Harold thinks Crawford has a "tremendous" jump and should steal second. The 2-2 to Floyd from Floyd is a check swing, but Joe West says Floyd didn't go around. And yeah, replays make it look like Floyd went. Full count. Crawford takes off but Floyd fouls it off. Barely gets a piece of that. Adam Russell and Clayton Richard are up in the Sox bullpen. Crawford takes off again, Floyd drives one deep into the left field corner. DeWise runs and his throw home is late and bounces past AJ. Rays 3-0. Floyd takes third on the error. Navarro hits the first pitch over Ramirez's head for a single, and the Rays tack on another. Rays 4-0. Single for Navarro and that will be it for Floyd. Oh Gavin, thanks for the wins this season. 67 pitches, 2 walks, 4 ERs for Floyd. Rough. New man is Clayton Richard, 6.04 ERA with a 2-5 record this season. The crowd, it is silent. Strike one to Gross. 2-2 is grounded to Cabrera, who starts the 6-4-3 DP. Hey, outs! Fun. Nice arm by Alexei to beat the running Gross. Bartlett now. First pitch is hit to shallow CF, where Junior makes an outstanding diving catch (rolling over) for the third out. Pretty.
Bad inning. Let's follow it up with a good inning. JD-Thome-Konerko. JD takes ball one to lead things off. A strike followed by a foul. Then a big swing and a miss (88 mph cutter) for a strikeout. Sigh. Rays manager Madden is happy with "Sonni" today, wants him to go at least six innings. Thome fouls off strike one. Takes strike two. The bearded madman has no effect on Sonnanstine. Ozzie's plan is foiled. Thome flies out to left for the second out. PK now. Konerko has the only hit for the Sox today. Takes on 1-1, a nice fastball right down the middle. 1-2. Takes ball two. Konerko drives the 2-2 real deep, over the left field wall for a home run. Rays 4-1. That wakes up the crowd. So two hits for the Sox, both from Konerko. Junior takes ball one. 1-1 is swung upon and missed (in the dirt). Takes the 1-2, juuuuuust outside on a backdoor cutter. That was close. Ball three. And Junior swings and another curveball in the dirt for the strikeout. But the Sox get one...
Sox are making Sonnanstine look good. Leadoff man Iwamura is up first, in the leadoff position. Richard stays in there for the Sox. Iwamura chops the first pitch right in front of the plate, and Richard lets it roll foul. Lines the next one to right, where JD fires that ball back in to keep Iwamura at first. And now the dangerous Upton. Hit him! If you're gonna lose, at least have some fun. Upton takes strike one (80 mph slider). Changeup for a ball. Another ball, this one of the fastball variety. Changeup for ball, followed by a strike. Grounds the next to third, where Uribe collects and fires. Iwamura to second. Pena takes strike one. Rips the next past a running Ramirez at second, that's a single for Pena. A running Iwamura scores from second, Rays 5-1. Sigh. Longoria takes strike one, fouls off strike two and then strikes out for the third time today. One more for the Golden Sombrero. Two outs for Crawford. Takes a strike to even things at 1-1. Foul makes it 1-2. Pena takes off before Richard throws, Richard throws to first and then Konerko fires to second for the pickoff. Read that the whole way. Nicely done.
It's moving day at the Tribune, which means Rahula has to clean off his desk for the first time in about a year. I pity the person who has to take over his desk. We are moving about 10 feet from where we sit now. Good times. OK Sox, your backs are really up against the wall now. Do your magic. Alexei up first. Called strike, then Ramirez rips it almost over Upton's head in center, but not quite. One out. DeWise takes strike one, then fouls one off to fall into an 0-2 hole. Southpaw behind the dugout. DeWise takes strike three and he's not happy about. 89 mph fastball that had some movement on it. DeWise has some DeWords for DeUmp. Uribe now. Pops up the 0-1 to deep SS for the third out. This is just annoying.
U-G-L-Y. Richard still on the mound vs. Crawford to start things. First pitch foul. Two balls and a foul makes it 2-2. Then two more balls makes it a leadoff walk, which is always dreaded.
FloydPinch-hitter Willy Aybar lifts one to center, but Junior is there to catch it. Crawford retreats to first. Navarro now. Ball one to the catcher. Pickoff attempt, but no. Looks like Longoria has some tape on one of his hands. Hmmmm. Ball two. Grounder, just foul. Another pickoff attempt. And I think my caffeine buzz is wearing off. Pop up to shallow right, where Alexei makes the basket catch. That looked dangerous. Matt Thornton continues to throw in the bullpen. Gross stands in, and Crawford is off and running. He's in there, throw is in time, but O-Cab drops it making the move to tag Crawford. 1-1 to Gross, 1-2. And Gross gets a piece of it for a foul. Towels wave as Richard throws strike two. Crawford steals third unnoticed. Threat ends though, as Gross flies out to O-Cab at short.
Fact Check: You are correct. My bad. The people around me are being loud and I can't hear my TV. Cabrera leads things off in this frame. Sonnanstine is at 70 pitches, 4 Ks and 2 hits. Called strike, called strike then O-Cab takes it to the warning strike in left. But not deep enough and it's the first out. AJ now (5-12 in this series with 1 RBI). Takes two balls and then flies out to Upton in CF. OK, just need a flyout to right to complete by flyout-inning Bingo. JD gets ahold of the first pitch and takes it deep to left. Another solo shot for the Sox and it's 5-2. And that signals the end of the Sonnanstine outing today...hooray. Although the Rays bullpen hasn't exactly been easy to hit either...especially that sidewinder Chad Bradford. New Rays guy this inning is J.P. Howell. Two outs and it's Big Jim Thome time. Ball one, and it rolls away from the catcher. Called strike on a fastball. Can't check up his next swing and it's 1-2. Harold: "The whole left side is open. The whole LEFT SIDE." Grounds the 2-2 into the shift and that ends things.
Ozzie Guillen makes his way to the mound; Richard warmed up on the mound...and that's all the work he'll get this inning. Octavio Dotel, come on down. Harold has much praise for young Clayton, but it's up the the vets now. Bartlett leads it off for the Rays. Ball one to him, and ball two. And a strike! Cheers! And now it's 3-1. O-Dotel = blah blah today. Bartlett fouls it off to make it full. Bartlett lines it down the left field line, just inside the foul line. And that's a standup double for the ex-Twin. Ozzie yanks Dotel, who walks off the mound blowing a bubble. Matt Thornton, come join the fun! Harold likes that Thornton brings the heat. And the noise. And the funk. He gets Iwamura first. So man on second, no outs. Ball one (95 mph). Strike one swinging. Takes strike two on the inside corner. Not trying to bunt the guy over? Whiffs at a 97 mph fastball placed away for the K. One out. Sox will intentionally walk Upton. Good call! So two on for Pena. Strike one swinging. Strike two swinging. Towels a' wavin'. Tries to check it up and does, barely on a 96 mph ball right down the middle. Even if he did hold up, that pitch was a strike. Foul. Another foul. And Pena hooks the next one to right field; Dye's throw home if off and Bartlett comes home from second. Rays 6-2. Slider over the plate from Thornton and another run for the Rays. Here comes Ozzie for a mound meeting. Home plate ump comes to get him because Ozzie took too long...and there's some jawing. Probably about that last non-called strike. Sadly, Ozzie does not get tossed. He so doesn't want to see the end of this. Upton at third, Pena at first for Longoria. Go for the Golden Sombrero! But no, he pops it up to O-Cab for the second out. Corners still for Crawford. Ball one. Two strikes. Ozzie is yelling again from the dugout, this time instructions to AJ. Foul by Crawford and it's 1-2. Ball two and Pena trots over to second uncontested. Ball three high, 97 mph fastball. Crawford smokes it to second, where Alexei falls on it and throws to first in time. But more damage on that scoreboard.
HL: I agree re: Walker and Quentin. J'adore CQ and I know didn't mean to do it...but he cost his team big time! JP Howell is still the Rays pitcher and Konerko is up first. Two called strikes and that means an 0-2 hole. Lotsa barking from the Sox dugout still about that last inning and the strikezone. Ball one to Konerko. Broken bat pop-up to shallow CF, and Upton makes the catch. Boo. Junior now. Ball one to Griff, ball two. Sign of "Gramps" behind the plate. Nice. Strike one. Fouls one off his foot. Ugh. 3-2 is swung upon and missed for Junior's second strikeout today. Ugh. Alexei now. No real boo birds, just a silent crowd with some random yelling. First pitch strike to Alexei. Strike two called on a slider. Next pitch is lineup up the middle for a single. Just the 4th hit for the Sox today. Howell was mad he couldn't catch the grounder, which was nowhere near him. Weirdo. Nick Swisher will pinch-hit for DeWise now. High black socks for Swish. Takes ball one. Takes strike one. Takes ball two. Grant Balfour the Aussie warms up for the Rays. Joey Cora yawns from the dugout. Strike two called. Is he just gonna watch like in Game 2? Bat off shoulder please! Swish chirps at the ump. Pops it up to Iwamura at second to end the inning. OK, bat back on shoulder please.
Sox should have worn all black unis. Thornton stays out there and he throws two quick strikes to Aybar. Aybar then grounds it right back to the pitcher for the first out. Ball one to Navarro, then a foul down the left field line. Quiet, quiet crowd. Except now they boo the non-strike call. 2-1 to Navarro. Fouled back and it goes right over the TBS booth's head. According to Don, Harold ducked. 2-2 flies out to Dye in right for the second out. Gross now. Called strike, swinging strike, ball, ball, foul...foul...foul...takes it deep to left where Swisher is there to catch it.
The screamer Grant Balfour is on the mound now. Pitch, scream. Have a Sox player get mad. Should be fun! Uribe first. 96 mph for a ball one. Uribe fouls it off and it's 1-2 now. Uribe chops it to the right side, Iwamura makes a move and throws to first in time. And a treat for everyone...Balfour vs. O-Cab. Dirt, part deux. First pitch swining, slices it right into Gross' mitt in right. O-Cab runs right across the mound on his way to the dugout. AJ takes ball one. Scott Linebrink gets up in the bullpen. Now 3-0 on AJ. Takes strike one. Ball four...two outs for JD. Second walk allowed today by a Rays pitcher (first since the first). Ball one. Fouls it off and it's 1-1. Checks it up for a 2-1 count. Foul for a 2-2 count. Another foul. And JD strikes out looking to end the inning. Balfour yells at himself (?) as he walks off the field.
Scott Linebrink takes the mound now (3.69 ERA in 50 games this season). Bartlett is up first. Strike one, foul ball (Konerko gives chase but it's out of play), foul ball (into the Sox dugout) and strike three swinging. Strike one swinging to Iwamura, foul ball makes it 0-2. Ball one. Ball two misses low. Full count after another ball. Next pitch bounces right in front of the left field wall, Swish barehands it and fires to second. But no chance to catch the speedy second baseman. Game-killer Upton now. He's so not getting a Christmas card from me this year. Hits the first pitch to Dye for the second out, but Iwamura tags and advances to third. Pena now after a short preview from the TBS studio on the Red Sox-Angels game, which Ernie Johnson totally botched. Pena is intentionally walked to get to Longoria, the 0-for-4 guy. Which means...HR right here, I'm sure. He's swinging on the first pitch, but just skies it to Junior in left. Three outs to go...
Thome-Konerko-Junior are due up. Unless Brian Anderson and Toby Hall want to get in some work before the offseason. Balfour stays in the Rays. Thome takes strike one right down the middle. He then grounds into the shift for the first out. Konerko bats. Three-run shot would be huge right now. Too bad the bases are empty. Ball one, then a foul makes it 1-1. Crowd urging on the Sox still. 1-1 sneaks in there for strike two. Ball two evens things up. And Konerko then hits one deep to the track in right, but Gross gets on his horse for the second out. Junior will take his at-bat. Last AB in a Sox uni? Rays are all at the top step of the dugout, ready to pounce on the field. Ball one. Ball two. Strike one, foul and Junior is down to his last bullet. Swing and a miss...ova. Whimper. The mohawked Rays take to the Cell field to celebrate while the Sox stew in the dugout. That's depressing. Don Zimmer stands in the clubhouse ready to part-tay. Sox fans give the team one last ovation. Classy guys!
Final thoughts: But really, this squad wasn't picked to win the AL Central. They lost Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin during the stretch run. So it was fun while it lasted y'all. Thanks for reading during this long baseball season. It's been super fun. Thanks for all the emails, which I will now how time to answer. See you next year. Go Jayhawks!Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun