Crosstown Showdown, U.S. Cellular version: Day 2
Here are a few additional tidbits from another in the long line of battles between the Cubs and White Sox, covering 13 years. When Interleague Play was invented, I have to believe this is the sort of crowd-pleasing rivalry Major League Baseball had in mind.
–In a day filled with White Sox miscues, one of the strangest ones came on a Mark Buehrle balk in the fifth inning. Alfonso Soriano opened with a bloop single to right and Ryan Theriot drew a walk. Both runners moved up a base when Buehrle went to throw over to first base but Paul Konerko was not near the base. So, Buehrle didn’t go through with the throw, which isn’t allowed while he’s still on the rubber.
The veteran southpaw took full responsibility for this particular mistake.
“I screwed up. It was totally my fault. Not Konerko, (bench coach) Joey (Cora) or (catcher) A.J. (Pierzynski),” Buehrle said. “I was thinking it was a timing play when A.J. gave me the sign. Then, instead of stepping off, I threw it.”
Buehrle believes the balk actually helped the White Sox stay out of a big inning. Milton Bradley’s ensuing line out might not have ended up with shortstop Alexei Ramirez if the middle infield was playing double-play depth with runners on first and second.
As for Buehrle’s effort on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, he said that he felt great.
“Obviously, I lost something in that last inning,” said Buehrle, who has a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts at home. “But overall, I felt pretty good.”
–Both manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams have talked about the Cubs-White Sox series being the biggest one either team is going to play if they don’t make the playoffs. The two teams aren’t exactly juggernauts at this point, but the Cubs sit just 3 ½ games out in the National League Central and the White Sox now are just 5 back in the AL Central.
So, Buehrle certainly isn’t ready to pronounce these five games, with one postponement to be made up in September, as the highlight of the season.
“Well, I don’t want to sit there and think that now,” Buehrle said. “There are still two or three months left in the season. I’m not thinking that right now. I just want to go out there and try to win games to get to the playoffs.”
–The scariest moment for Gordon Beckham on Saturday was not hitting in the ninth inning against Cubs reliever Jose Ascanio, with the game on the line. It was seeing Jim Thome and A.J. Pierzynski coming at him at full speed, as the celebration began after his game-winning hit.
“When you see Thome is at full sprint, you know something is up,” said Beckham with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun.”
“Good, good. Just so he remembers that,” Thome said. “No, we were having a little fun with him. It was good.”
–Best guesses for the White Sox All-Star candidates would be Buehrle, reliever Matt Thornton or right fielder Jermaine Dye. But it’s hard to overlook Scott Podsednik, who has been as important to this team staying afloat as anyone on the roster.
–The White Sox are 10-6 in Interleague Play, with two games remaining. Bobby Jenks earned his first career Interleague win on Saturday.