10:59 AM CDT, June 7, 2012
Don’t look now, but first place could become second place for the White Sox by Thursday night.
They have lost the first two games of their home series to the vexing, dastardly Blue Jays, who seem to beat the Sox as regularly as the Indians seem to pound the Tigers this year.
Nobody believes Cleveland can keep up with the adults, but look, the Indians are here and the Tigers are plummeting, and while it might only be June, you’d better recognize the race that is there.
What’s more, you’d better take everybody seriously when you’re only 14-16 at home the way the Sox are after Toronto’s Brendan Morrow asphyxiated them Wednesday.
Don’t forget that the Sox still are hoping they can get captain Paul Konerko back in the cleanup spot Thursday night after he underwent a wrist procedure earlier in the week.
So, the Sox have a lot of things going the wrong way here. They need something good to happen against the vexing, dastardly Jays, if only for their ownmental well-being.
I’m not trying to make a June game sound dire. It’s not. But there’s something about losing to an AL East team that makes you look like a second-class division, which has often been the case and is again this season. I mean, the Jays are four games over .500 but are only in fourth place. The Sox are six games over .500 and in first. See what I mean?
The Sox, then, need a game from their stopper.
But sorry, Chris Sale isn’t scheduled to pitch until Saturday.
The medical miracle that is Jake Peavy is 6-1 with some terrific outings. He sounds like a guy who eats wrought iron for a pregame meal, and so, I had him pegged as the Sox’s stopper.
Only one of Peavy’s six wins came after a Sox loss, and that was in April against Baltimore. Peavy twice gave the Sox stopper-caliber outings, but he suffered a 1-0 complete-game loss to Jon Lester and Boston at the end of April and then watched Matt Thornton blow a save against Detroit in early May.
Part of the opportunity to play stopper, of course, is the result of where a pitcher’s turn falls. Another element is that a first-place team wins more than it loses, thus requiring a stopper less often. And look, there’s nothing wrong with extending a winning streak.
I’m not trying to diminish Peavy’s season here. Fact is, I began looking up Sox results to back up my feeling that Peavy was the team’s stopper because of his win total and often electric performances.
But Sale has been better and more important than you can believe. Well, at least more important than I believed.
Turns out, five of Sale’s seven wins have come after Sox losses. To put that into perspective, the wispy left-hander who makes floss looks like it’s on steroids has nearly as many of those wins as the rest of the staff combined.
Sale has won three of those five on the road and has allowed more than two earned runs only once, posting a 1.83 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks in 34 1/3 innings.
We knew Sale was having a good season, but this is a great start in the context of preventing bad things from getting worse.
To think, only a month ago, Don Cooper was saying that Sale’s tender elbow was reason to remove him from the rotation and make him the closer. Sale would fight the move, angrily, it turned out, during a full-metal conversation with general manager Kenny Williams.
Sale was returned to the rotation and has won four straight. Imagine where the Sox would be without those starts against the backdrop of John Danks’ injury, Philip Humber’s fall from grace and Gavin Floyd’s interplanetary travels.
You could argue, then, that Sale’s most important victory was stopping his team from making a bad decision.
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