When it took Josh Beckett 35 pitches to get out of the first inning of game one of a doubleheader, Tito must have been reaching for the Jagermeister and Pepto cocktail with visions of Julio Lugo pitching a couple of innings in game two. But Beckett settled down, grinding out 5-and-two-thirds innings to earn his best-in-baseball 16th win. The real story was the return of the bats. The good guys pounded out 15 hits scoring 11 runs. JD Drew led the charge…just kidding – wanted to make sure you were paying attention! It was actually Tek (2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI) and Mike Lowell (3-for-4, double, 3 RBI) who supplied some big hits, with the rest of the bats chipping in as well.
This one wasn’t decided until late, Chicago had the tying run at the plate in the sixth and seventh – and Papelbon was warming at one point – but Lopez and Okajima were able to squash the threats, then sit back and watch the bats explode. The Sox scored two in the eighth and added four in the ninth to make it a laugher as Mike Timlin mopped up the last two innings. For the record, when Lopez came in with two on and two out in the sixth, I had visions of this one slipping away. But that’s why Tito makes the big bucks, and the Sox went into game two with a win, a rested bullpen, and Schilling pitching on the mound.
It took a few innings for the bats to warm up again, but in the fourth they picked up where they left off. Down 1-0, the Sox put the boots to Danks, scoring four times before the second out of the inning was recorded and sending him to the showers early. Predicted headline somewhere: “Danks for playing.” An Ortiz homer and RBI doubles by Lowell and Crisp accounted for the runs. In the fifth, the assault continued, with Papi hammering the first pitch of the inning for his second homer. After back-to-back walks to Manny and Lowell, Youk homered to put this one away early. The “re-invented” Schill-dog cruised through six, giving up just the one run on three hits and a walk while striking out three. And once again, the bullpen shut down the White Sox for the final three with Delcarmen, Snyder and Gagne pitching a scoreless inning each.
We’ve seen this type of production in spurts all year, only to lose the next day 2-1. Could this finally be the offensive explosion we’ve been waiting for? When the hits come relentlessly and everything is a double if it isn’t a home run and Jessica Alba is at the plate to greet each runner that scores with a kiss and a ham sandwich? Why, sure it could. Sunday brings us the class of the organization and Red’s choice for face of the franchise, Tim Wakefield. Wake looks to become the game’s second 16 game winner and keep pace with Beckett. We think he can do it.
Coolest name of the series: White Sox third-base coach Razor Shines.