by Steve Bogira
At about 4:20 in the afternoon on Saturday, the last-place White Sox turned their season around in sun-drenched U.S. Cellular Field. Alex Rios gets most of the credit, although I think I had something to do with it.
The Sox had spotted the Atlanta Braves four runs, but in the third they got one back and loaded the bases for Rios. I was in the upper deck with family and friends, celebrating my birthday. I leaned over to my wife and said that in one pitch, the Sox could be ahead 5-4. Rios smashed the next pitch over the wall in left-center, and the Sox were ahead 5-4. They went on to win, 10-6.
The idea that the Sox could turn their woeful season around is nonsense, of course, but I'm going to pretend to believe it anyway. They led the Braves again yesterday, 3-1, into the eighth. That's when Atlanta put a runner on and Reed Johnson sent a Nate Jones pitch soaring to left. The ball seemed about to leave the field when someone named Casper Wells leaped and snagged it above the fence. The final was 3-1.
This gives the Sox two straight wins over a first-place team. They did lose to the Braves Friday, but that was before they turned their season around.
The Sox are now a mere 13 games behind the Tigers. The two teams begin a four-game series tonight on the south side. And what a matchup! The Tigers' Max Scherzer, 13-1, opposes Chris Sale, whose 2.85 ERA is fifth best in the American League. Six days ago, Scherzer started the All-Star game for the AL with a perfect inning, and Sale followed with two more (and got the win). It'll be in the 80s at the Cell, but both pitchers will be throwing in the mid-90s. And it'll be breezy around the plate: Scherzer is second in the AL in strikeouts, fanning 10.6 per nine innings, and Sale is fifth, whiffing 9.8 per nine.
The Cubs dropped a pair to the Rockies in Colorado over the weekend. They take on the first-place Diamondbacks in Arizona tonight, with Matt Garza on the mound. He'll be trying to impress the scouts, as will left fielder Alfonso Soriano, closer Kevin Gregg, catcher Dioner Navarro, outfielder Nate Schierholtz, and southpaw reliever James Russell. They're among the many Cubs with a chance to turn their season around by heading elsewhere.