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A combination of a long, much-needed vacation and a stretch of indifference on my part to the performance of our Chicago ballclubs has kept me from blogging for a while.

But, the possibility that the White Sox are emerging as a real postseason candidate has me back. To be clear, I still don't believe the White Sox look like their ready to win anything, but something unmistakably is stirring on the South Side, and I think it's lights-out pitching from both the starters and the bullpen. The Sox' pitching staff is so good that they can afford to trade one of their best starters or recent weeks, Edwin Jackson, for another bullpen arm, Jason Frasor.

More importantly, the Sox' staff is so good that they seem able to win games with minimum offense, not unlike the San Francisco Giants did last year (as well as this year). The team has won five of six games, giving up only 12 runs in that span, while scoring an underwhelming 22, many of the latter coming on homeruns like tonight's two-run shot by A.J. Pierzynski that spelled the difference in a 3-1 victory over Boston.

The offensive problems are still there, with Adam Dunn reaching base, but still not really hitting, Alex Rios having apparently lost his starting role and Gordon Beckham keeping his job mainly on stellar fielding.

The Sox are finally at .500, and only three games back. So, why does it feel like more?

The White Sox won two of three in Round 2 of the Crosstown Classic series, and end the bout having taken four of six overall, which probably surprises no one. Some reflections on the weekend that was:

--Juan Pierre's slugging era last all of three games. So, what are the Sox going to do for runs now that the bottom of the line-up isn't getting on base and getting knocked in by Pierre?

--The Sox only had two runs in the last two games vs. the team with the league's worst starting rotation ERA.

--Adam Dunn continue to find ways to look worse doing absolutely nothing--but good news, Sox fans: He said he's getting "comfortable" at the plate. You gotta be kidding.

--The Sox remain really, really close to going over the.500 mark. Raise your hand if you think they will do it against the Royals in this week's first series.

--Now, put that hadn down if you think they will fall back under .500 against the Twins in this week's second series.

--Mike Quade got a standing ovation for arguing a horrible call, but still mismanages his pitchers (sometimes by putting a bat in their hands) based on theories about how he wants to end games in which the Cubs are losing or could at least use runs.

--Starlin Castro is the only All-Star Cub, but I think Darwin Barney could have made the last player vote pretty interesting had he not gone on the DL.

--It goes without saying that Paul Konerko should get voted in and also participate in the Homerun Contest.

--It goes without saying the Mike Quade going to the All-Star game is pretty laughable.

Random observations

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--You know Mike Quade doesn't know how to handle his pitching staff when he watches Randy Wells fall apart in the 7th inning against the Sox, but doesn't yank him because he's trying to preserve his 9th inning plan.

--Quade stuck with Wells yesterday two days after he pulled Ryan Dempster after Dempster gave up a lead-off 9th inning double in a 1-0 game that Dempster had dominated, giving up just three hits with no walks. Dempster had only thrown about 80 pitches. If anything, Quade often stuck with Dempster too long earlier in the season when he obviously was burnt toast, but this time let him start the 9th, then yanked him at the first sign of trouble. If he was going to be that quick about it, Carlos Marmol should have started the 9th. Pulling Dempster wasn't fair to Dempster or Marmol. I know, the win is what matters--well, unless you're about 15 games under .500. Then, maybe you should just start with consistency.

--Juan Pierre has come up with a couple clutch hits for the Sox in the last two games. I like little Juan, but again, he has no real value if he's not stealing bases. These clutch triples will not last through the rest of the summer.

--I guess I'm finally giving up on Adam Dunn. The walk yesterday was charity from Randy Wells, and I swear Dunn looks about 10 lbs. heavier every game.

--The Sox can go over .500 this weekend. I usually root more for the home team durng Crosstown Classic games, but I'm suspending that this weekend, just in the hopes of seeing one of our teams poke its ahead above the water.

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