White Sox stopped cold by Dice-K
Offense collects just two hits; Vazquez knocked around in loss
BOSTON -- There's an old baseball adage that states out of a 162-game schedule, a team wins 60 games and loses 60 games. But it's how said team does with the remaining 42 that decides where the squad finishes.
After the Red Sox's 8-0 drubbing put down before 37,755 on Friday night at Fenway Park, the White Sox could make a little addendum to this aforementioned statement. Out of this long ledger running from late March to the end of September, a handful of games also exist that you want to forget as soon as possible -- sort of like a bad date.
Friday's loss by the White Sox would fall in this particular category.
"We don't hit, we don't play defense, we don't pitch," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's the result."
"All we can do is crumple this one up, throw it away and come back tomorrow," added White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko of his team's second straight loss, dropping the South Siders to 2-3 on this 10-game trip, when factoring in Monday's completion of a game against Baltimore from April 28.
While the White Sox (76-58) certainly turned in a performance not likely to make the year-end highlight reel, their captain was careful not to place too much blame on his team's shortcomings and thus take away credit from Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2). The Boston starter worked on his normal four days' rest but moved up a day to replace Josh Beckett, with Beckett going on the disabled list.
The alteration didn't cause Matsuzaka to miss a step -- not even close. He yielded a leadoff single to Jermaine Dye in the second and a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez in the third, but otherwise completely shut down Guillen's crew. He walked two and struck out seven over eight efficient innings, matching a season high for innings pitched, which previously came in Chicago on Aug. 9.
Ramirez swiped second in the third, and he held up as the only White Sox runner in scoring position all night.
"Did we have a guy to second? One guy? I would say that's probably not pretty good," Konerko said. "Usually, when you get one guy to second, you will probably lose that game, unless you hit a lot of solo home runs.
"When you have the numbers he has moving into September, you are throwing the ball well and you aren't just lucky. He's doing good things. He's one of the best guys in the league this year."
Boston's offense didn't really match Matsuzaka's dominance until the sixth inning, with Javier Vazquez (10-12) making the necessary pitches to avoid the big inning. The strongest rally for the Red Sox (78-56) followed a rare error committed up by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, as he dropped Alex Cora's foul popup to begin the sixth. Cora took advantage of the miscue by doubling to open the frame but was stranded at second during the next two outs, which, if not for the error, would have retired the side in order.
A walk to Dustin Pedroia ended Vazquez's evening and extended the inning, and Horacio Ramirez walked David Ortiz, the only batter he faced, to load the bases. D.J. Carrasco hit Kevin Youkilis with a 1-2 pitch to force home a run, and Jason Bay's double off the Green Monster cleared the bases.
Pedroia led the Boston attack with four hits and three runs scored out of the second spot.
"Yeah, they still have a good lineup, even without Manny [Ramirez]," Vazquez said. "Early in the game, I didn't get ahead of the guys. After that, I got into a little bit of a rhythm, but they still hit good pitches."
"Javy struggled early in the game, but after that he settled down," added Guillen of Vazquez, who gave up three earned runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two while suffering his second straight loss. "Then, we don't make a couple of plays for him and all of a sudden he's got 100-something pitches."
Beckett's absence might be felt a bit more by Boston on Saturday night, as Michael Bowden will be called up from the Minors to make his Major League debut. Bowden was a one-time phenom at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill., located 45 minutes outside of Chicago.
But the White Sox can't worry about Bowden. They can't worry about Pedroia, Ortiz or Youkilis, specifically. And they can't concern themselves with Minnesota's victory over Oakland on Friday night, which cut the White Sox lead in the American League Central to one-half game.
It's all about wins with 28 games remaining, plain and simple. Wins and minimizing rough showings such as the one turned in by the White Sox on Friday.
"Hopefully, they don't happen often, because we're in the situation now where it's a must-win game," Guillen said. "We cannot sit here and say, 'This is another game, it's OK.' We have to go as hard as we can. That's the way we have to approach every day."
"Any time the offense gets shut down like that, it's not going to look good," Konerko added. "It's over, so throw it away and come back ready, because we can still take two of three."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.