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Falling backward

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The Sox don't want it, the Piranhas don't want it--is there a scenario in which K.C. can still win the A.L. Central Division? The White Sox are hitting again, and for power, with Paulie pounding 2 HRs last night, The Missile going yard and JeDye homering again, but the Sox lost 12-6 behind a starter and bullpen that have completely fallen apart.

Javier Vazquez is either too tired to go on from pitching twice on three-days rest, or just plain incapable of finding his edge. He was charged with seven runs and didn't make it out of the 5th inning, only finding his aggressive side when A.J. went out to the mound. It looked like maybe Vaz took issue with A.J.'s pitch calls? Or maybe A.J., disgusted, said something that made Vaz drop what looks like an F-bomb in the photo fronting the sports section in today's Trib. Either way, it wasn't too late to win the game after Vaz departed, but Clayton Richard (despite three mostly good innings), Lance Broadway and especially Scott Linebrink (who has proven himself three years running to be half-season pitcher) all faltered by giving up key hits.

Maybe this late-season collapse was inevitable after the loss of Jose Contreras--just time and extensive bullpen labors catching up with the Sox. Maybe Richard or Broadway should have been used in a couple more spot starts. Post-game radio chatter had a lot of people wishing that Richard had started this particular game. Perhaps Ozzie would have been lambasted if Richard started and lost, but Vazquez has proven amazingly lame in big games (just ask the Yankees, though he did get a victory out of the pen during the infamous 2004 play-offs against Boston). Maybe going with Richard to start and then Broadway for three innings would have shaken the pitching blahs. But hindsight of course is 20/20, and not many managers would pass up a veteran in a situation like last night's game.

The Piranhas lost again to K.C., and though they looked WS-caliber against the Sox, it is again becoming clear that this Minnesota team is not necessarily like the division winners of past years. Too bad the Sox couldn't figure out where the holes were. The Sox are of course still in it, and get another bit of luck falling their way today, as they will not have to face injured 22-game winner Cliff Lee. If fate was ever sending the Sox a gift, this is it.

The Cubs won 7-3 behind a stellar performance from Ted Lilly, who no-hit the Brew Crew into the 7th inning. The Brewers scratched back, but Fukie, who loves Brewer pitching even when he's not hitting anyone else's, added insurance runs with a homer in the 9th. Marquis didn't look good in a bullpen showing intended to get him ready for his October role. The Cubs will go with Sub-Cub pitchers today instead of a limited turn by Zammy, which is fine by me--maybe he can come back strong from extra rest to do well next week. In starting Angel Guzman and probably going to the pen early and often, the Cubs may gift-wrap the wild card for the Brewers, while setting themselves up for a first-round match with the tricky Dodgers. There's not much other choice, but if they beat the Brewers today and the Mets somehow managed to win despite increasing fatigue--well, that would be nice.

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