The Baseball Notebook

June 20, 2010 7:05 PM

The Chicago Surge

In a recent post I proclaimed the coming Chicago surge. After a slow start, the Windy City team with the fiery, but embattled manager, would start to fulfill preseason expectations and play themselves back into the race. Ah, if only I'd have looked to the city's South Side rather than the North when making the prognosis. Because it isn't the Cubs, but the White Sox, who've caught fire in June and moved back to the outskirts of contention into the AL Central.

Ozzie Guillen's club has won 10 of their last 11, including six in a row, to pull back to .500 at 34-34. They trail the Twins by 5.5 games in the Central and they've done it in a way that wakes up the echoes of 2005--with pitching. No hitter has really posted dominant numbers during this streak and they've won games by an average of roughly 3-2, but Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, John Danks and Mark Buehrle have all pitched very well. And in the last week alone, the bullpen corps of Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Tony Pena setting up for Bobby Jenks has not yielded a single run. The White Sox are too hot not to cool down but they've shown the pitching potential to settle in for a continued summer climb up the standings.

Chicago's not the only team hotter than the summer weather. Texas has reeled off eight straight wins and settled into a 3.5 game lead in the AL West. The Rangers have done it despite a slump from Michael Young and are finally getting the pitching they've always needed. Colby Lewis threw a complete-game two-hitter against Houston on Saturday, coming off a strong eight-inning outing at Milwaukee earlier in the week. In these two starts, Lewis averaged 10 strikeouts. Only the fact the Angels have played steady and consistent baseball has kept the Rangers from pulling away. In LAA's last eight series, they've won six, split one and lost one. That's why they've joined with Texas in leaving the rest of the West in the dust. Despite the loss of Kendry Morales within this timeframe, Mike Scoscia's team is hitting the ball, particularly Tori Hunter, who's on fire. The Angels are tough and resilient, in the mold of their manager and their sustained stretch of consistent baseball in the face of a devastating fluke injury is the latest evidence.

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