Sunday, October 23, 2005

White Sox - 9 down, 2 to go…

Can there be any doubt now that the Sox are destined to win this thing? What an exciting game and what an incredible finish!!

It’s hard to overshadow a grand-slam homer, but Podsednik’s walk-off was even more dramatic than Konerko’s slam.

Buerhle pitched well, but Pettitte pitched better. Politte pitched well out of the Sox bullpen, as did Cotts, but the Astro hitters were able to get to Jenks. I must say I’m not surprised. I’ve written on several previous occasions that major league hitters can hit anyone’s fastball, if they can sit on it. I don’t think Jenks threw a curve-ball tonight – he certainly didn’t get one over. And so the Astro hitters could just time the fastball. As fast as Jenks can throw it, the Astro hitters can swing the bat. I’m glad Ozzie took him out when he did and went to Cotts who was, again, his normal lights-out.

I think Jenks has got a great future IF he can master a second pitch. There’s no closer I know of who has consistently won with just one pitch. The second pitch doesn’t even have to be a breaking ball, though that’s the preferred one. Keith Foulke helped Boston win a World Series last year with just a fastball and a change-up. But if Jenks doesn’t get his second pitch working, he’s going to wind up like Matt Anderson, the former Tigers closer who’s now trying to make it with the Colorado Rockies. Before he injured his shoulder, he regularly threw his fastball at 100+ mph. But he couldn’t get his breaking ball over consistently and hitters just sat on his fastball. Kyle Farnsworth was the same way. He seems to have resurrected his career somewhat with the Braves, but I’m sure it’s because that the Braves pitching coach, Leo Mazzone helped him with controlling his breaking stuff. Incidentally, it will be interesting to see what happens with Brave pitchers, like Farnsworth, now that Mazzone has joined the Orioles. Anyway I digress, but I’m glad that the Sox have Hermanson, Cotts, Politte, Vizcaino and Hernandez in the bullpen along with “Big Bad Bobby”.

And what’s going on with the Houston Bullpen? I thought, coming into this series, that this was the only advantage the Astros had; if they could turn this series into a battle of the bullpens, they had a chance to win it. But tonight, the Sox got to Wheeler, to Qualls and to Lidge; their Big 3. I will admit to not having followed the Astro’s this year, so my opinion of their bullpen came from some of the baseball analysts I follow plus looking at their stats. But you know, their stats were compiled against National League hitters. And the National league just doesn’t have as many good hitters as the American league does. Baseball goes in cycles – 20-30 years ago, the National League was the superior league. But now it’s the American league which is stronger and deeper, and they have been the better league for some time. If anyone thinks that I’m wrong in that assessment, I’d just ask them to take a look at the inter-league records – the American league holds a huge advantage as of late. I think there were only 3 or 4 National league teams that had winning records in inter-league play this year, contrasted with the large majority of American league teams that were winners in this category. Maybe the Astro bullpen is just not as good as I thought it was. If that’s true, this series is over in 4 games unless Oswalt can throw a complete game.

So now it’s on to Houston and Game 3. I’m looking forward to seeing Roy Oswalt pitch – he really is supposed to be something special. But the way the White Sox are going right now, it won’t surprise me at all if they get to him and do so in a big way.

Go Sox!!

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