Mark Buehrle was brilliant last night for 8 innings versus the Oakland Athletics in limiting the A’s to only 2 hits and 3 total base runners. No base runner advanced past 1st base through those 8 innings. Dallas Braden and Tyson Ross were nearly as good for the A’s only allowing a solo HR to light hitting Brent Lillibridge. With the Sox leading 1-0 and Buehrle only having thrown 99 pitches, manager Ozzie Guillen decided to bring in closer Matt Thornton. Thornton proceeded to give up a lead off double to Andy LaRoche off an 0-2 slider that was smoked into the left-center gap. After another very hard hit ball was snared by Paul Konerko at 1B, Daric Barton hit a deep fly ball to LF Juan Pierre that should have been out #2 in the inning. Pierre dropped the ball allowing the run to score and tie the game. Ultimately the Sox ended up losing the game 2-1 off a Kurt Suzuki solo HR in the 10th off of Jesse Crain. Definitely a tough no-decision for Buehrle.
Two things stick out in this game:
- 1) Matt Thornton is now 0-3 in save opps as the new closer. As bad as Bobby Jenks was, it at least took him a month or so to blow 3 saves and rarely if ever did he blow 3 straight. Overall the entire bullpen has struggled mightily in the first week and a half of the season. The talent is there with Thornton, Sale, Santos, and Crain all capable of having dominating stuff. Perhaps Thornton is just not the guy as a closer and needs to move back to the set up role where he was phenomenal the last couple of season. Either way, unless the bullpen starts getting guys out consistently this is going to be a long season on the South Side.
- 2) Juan Pierre’s defense is becoming a liability. This is the 2nd time since Friday that he’s dropped a fly ball allowing the opposing team to either start a rally or keep one going. He’s not good enough offensively to be a poor defender. If he put up Adam Dunn type numbers, then you just live with the poor defense. But he’s getting on base at a .280 clip right now and obviously has little to no power. If he’s not getting on base, causing havoc on the base paths, and playing good defense, then he is basically worthless to the Sox.
Currently the Sox sit at 6-4, but could easily be 8-2 or 9-1 if not for the troubles of the bullpen. It will be interesting to see how long the always ready to pull the trigger Kenny Williams will sit by and watch more magnificent efforts like Buehrle’s go to waste.
About the Author
Written by Shaun Balmer
Shaun is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. His love of the White Sox began as a kid in 1993 watching morning replays of games on Sports Channel. To this day he will argue with anyone that the strike of 1994 cost the White Sox a World Series title. Growing up in Indiana he is also a fan of the Colts, Pacers, and of course his alma mater the Boilermakers.