Faced with a sub par start from Gavin Floyd in an important rubber game, the Sox broke out their bats to slug their way into a 5.5-game lead over the Tribe in the AL Central.
Today's win cements the damage done to the Indians, who dropped 5 of 6 to the Sox in the last nine days and lost 4 games and one slot in the standings.
The best things about today's game were Floyd's ability to pitch out of a first inning jam without imploding and the offense bailing out one of their starting pitchers. This was only the fourth time this season the Sox have won while allowing 5 or more runs to the opposition. The starting pitching has been exquisite, but if they fall off the pace a little it's nice to know the offense can pick them up.
Once again it was the Carlos Quentin show, as the Sox leftfielder tallied 3 RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a game-winning two-run double into the leftfield corner. I'll continue to gush over Quentin and praise the bullpen, which hasn't allowed an earned run in 25 innings. But I've got to rehash the bunting phenomenon that Ozzie and co. just can't get over.
Orlando Cabrera, enduring off the field issues that'll be blown up in the mainstream media, has been hot at the plate lately. In his last nine games coming into today, Cabrera had rediscovered his opposite field stroke to go 13-for-38 (.342) with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs.
So of course with runners on first and second and nobody out, Ozzie asked Cabrera to bunt. Twice.
One of these days Ozzie is going to learn the lesson: Just Don't Bunt.
All of the following have to be true in
order for the bunt to work in the second and third, nobody out
-The runner on second base is fast
-The batter is a good bunter
-The batter is not on a hot streak
-The pitcher is not extremely wild
-The on deck hitter is not in a slump
-The hitter in the hole is not in a slump
If any of those criteria are not met, bunting turns into the lower percentage play. Sure enough, in today's game the bunt failed both times, but went mostly unnoticed as the Sox scored 5 runs in those innings.
Things worked out for the Sox thanks to a.) Jake Westbrook's wildness allowing Cabrera first base in the 5th and b.) AJ Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin's prowess swinging the bat in the 7th.
Not only is Smallball a myth, but more often swinging away is the higher percentage play anyway! Though I have to say I am surprised at how poor Cabrera's execution has been in bunting situations. Wasn't he supposed to be the great "handler" of the bat?
Other notes from the game:
-No walks from Floyd! His early season success has been nice, but his walk totals were very high and bound to catch up with him at some point, especially when the hits start to fall like they did today. If he can eliminate the base on balls he can prove his success is no mirage.
-The box score won't show it, but DeWayne Wise looked solid in center and hit two balls very hard for outs. An 0-for-4 doesn't usually garner more playing time, but hopefully he'll get one more start out there.
- The Sox are 11-4 against the Indians and Tigers, and 18-19 against everyone else. Winning games within the division is how you win the division.
-Alexei Ramirez is ducksnort-ing at a Lew Ford pace.
-Oh, and of course the other really big thing we learned about Ramirez: he wears a lot of gold. All the gold chains around his neck probably weigh more than his total body muscle mass.