White Sox Sweep Angels And Send Message To The AL
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
HOT WHITE SOX SWEEP ANGELS AND SEND MESSAGE TO THE AL
We were very interested in seeing how the key series between the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox was going to play out this week:
- Both teams have been hot for several weeks.
- Both teams have put themselves into pennant races when things seemed dicey much earlier in the season.
- Both have veteran managers who have had success in past pennant races.
- Both have veteran players who have been through the ringer before.
- Both teams had largely been doing this off the radar because their slow starts had just encouraged the mainstream media to keep focusing on the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays anyway.
It would have been a bit premature to call it a "playoff preview." But, in terms of the past month or so...few were playing better than these two teams. Now, few are playing better than the White Sox!
Let's briefly review the four-game sweep...
MONDAY: Chicago 9, Los Angeles 2
Gavin Floyd had another good start, as he's allowed just six earned runs in his last six games (in 42.2 innings!). You could argue Floyd is one of the biggest reasons for the Sox turnaround. He was the "swing man" in the rotation. If he struggled, the team wasn't going to string together victories. If he sparkled, they were a force to be reckoned with. Floyd and the Sox caught fire at about the same time. That much is clear. If he keeps doing this the White Sox are very much a real threat in the AL Central.
Scott Kazmir of the Angels had another bad start. Looks like Tampa Bay got rid of him at just the right time. The Halos had hoped they could make mechanical fixes that would bring back the Kazmir of old. To this point, that's been all talk with few results. Kazmir has an ERA of 5.98, which normally isn't even allowed at this level. His past reputation has given him a long leash. Tough to imagine the Angels catching the Rangers in the AL West if Kazmir continues to be a black hole in the rotation.
TUESDAY: Chicago 4, Los Angeles 1
This game is most noted for being Jake Peavy's last appearance of the season. He was diagnosed with a very serious injury after leaving the game in the second inning. You detach a muscle...it's going to take a long time to recover!
What struck us is how the Sox took it as a temporary glancing blow. It was early in the game, and their opponent was throwing the ace of its staff (Jered Weaver). Instead of laying down and taking their medicine, the Sox coasted to another comfortable victory on the heels of a great bullpen effort. This is the sign of a champion. Take a shot to the chin, but keep on swinging.
Bad news to lose Peavy (who actually hadn't been much of a factor this year anyway), but we learned a lot about the make-up of this team with the final result.
WEDNESDAY: Chicago 5, Los Angeles 2
Freddie Garcia is doing a variation of Gavin Floyd (interesting that they have their first initials reversed). Another quality start from a guy who started the season poorly, but has come on strong of late. This makes 19 earned runs allowed in 52.2 innings over his last eight starts.
And, you'd have to say that Joe Saunders is having the same kinds of issues that Scott Kazmir is having. They don't have similar styles because Kazmir is fairly unique. But, they're having similarly unacceptable results. Saunders saw his ERA drop to 4.76 after the game. Plus he's had way too many disastrous starts where he dug an early hole his team couldn't get out of it.
THURSDAY: Chicago 1, Los Angeles 0
This is what can happen when two good pitchers line up in a get-away game on a weekday afternoon. It was almost a double shutout! Erwin Santana allowed three hits on the day for the Halo's, with his only run allowed coming on a first inning sacrifice fly. John Danks had a no-hitter much of the way, and settled with a two-hit shutout against a slumping offense that was ready to get out of Dodge.
Four games with great pitching from the White Sox staff. Mark Buerhle's spot in the rotation missed the series. You know he's going to be a contributor if not an overpowering force. This is a team lined up to make a serious run at the AL Central as long as Floyd and Garcia keep pulling their weight. Remember, the Angels have been on a roll. The White Sox weren't shutting down the Orioles or the Astros. They were allowing 2-1-2-0 to one of the powers of June baseball.
The Halo's have to be disappointed. This lost series came just as Texas was hosting Cleveland to build its lead in the AL West, and Tampa Bay was taking three straight from Boston to surge ahead in the Wildcard race. Of course, given the lack of contributions from Kazmir and Saunders this year, a playoff bid was going to be offense-driven anyway. No offense to be seen this week.
Chicago will try to avoid a mental letdown in a weekend series against Kansas City (who's been playing better than people realize the past month). The Angels travel to Oakland to try and regroup against another AL West disappointment.
Now that CWS/LAA is in the books, here are the series we'll be paying the most attention to in these finals days before the All-Star Break:
Atlanta at NY Mets
Minnesota at Detroit
San Diego at Colorado
Cincinnati at Philadelphia
We'll see playoff intensity in at least three of those cities. It will be all four unless the Phillies have lost their fight. More on those matchups the next time we're together.
Don't forget...if you sign up for the second half of the Major League Baseball season with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK, these last few days before the ASB will be included at no additional charge. Call 1-800-323-4453 for complete details. We've had a great run lately on LOCK LEVEL selections. Be sure to ask about early bird football when you call. Game day releases and club packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card.
We mentioned yesterday that our annual summer series of college football previews will begin shortly. Look for the SEC West on Monday (as we start with the home of defending National Champion and Preseason #1 Alabama). We'll move over to the SEC East with Florida and company on Tuesday. Wednesday will feature the Big East...and we'll gradually work our way East to West through the BCS conferences after that. Our look at mid-majors will begin later in the month. Our stat reports on the eight NFL divisions will begin with the start of the Exhibition season in early August.
It's a great time to be a sports fan. It may turn out to be a great year to be a Chicago White Sox Fan. Just remember that EVERY DAY is A GREAT DAY TO CALL JIM HURLEY!
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