Despite 1-0 loss, Sox’ hot stretch earns praise from Cardinals
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Sun-Times Media June 13, 2012 11:04PM
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy kicks at the mound, while St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran circles the bases on a solo home run in the third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 13, 2012, in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:42PM
ST. LOUIS — Look who’s talking about the White Sox.
The defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
“You see a team with a lot of confidence, just the way they walk onto the field and the way they play the game,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
For White Sox manager Robin Ventura, Matheny noticing some Sox swagger was as big a compliment as any he’s received during his first few months on the job.
“I see it now,’’ Ventura said before the White Sox momentarily had the bounce taken out of their step by Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (10-2, 2.42) on Wednesday night. “I don’t know, I don’t think you see that in spring training. Everybody hopefully feels that way in spring training, but I think it happens during the season. You have tough games and you win them or a tough series and you do well, you run up against certain teams and play well, it starts building and I think that’s something that these guys have earned to be able to feel that way.’’
Before losing 1-0 to the Cardinals before 40,045 fans at Busch Stadium, the Sox had been strutting around with an offense that led the majors in runs (6.2 per game), average (.287), homers (45) and average with runners in scoring position (.336) since May 14.
“When guys go to the plate, if you are in close games, you feel like you are going to be able to win that game,’’ Ventura said. “Guys feel like they are going to be able to knock in that run. Those are things that evolve and happen with guys at-bawt after at-bat.’’
But for one night, anyway, Lynn made a lineup absent of Adam Dunn for the first time this season look lifeless. Lynn held the Sox to three hits while striking out a career high 12, setting them down in order five times. The only time Lynn had to work out of trouble — and it was as tight a spot to be in after Alex Rios led off the fifth with a triple to left-center field — he reached back and struck out A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez swinging for the first two outs of the inning. After Orlando Hudson was intentionally walked, Lynn struck out Sox pitcher Jake Peavy after falling behind 2-0 in the count.
Peavy made one mistake in seven innings, giving up Carlos Beltran’s 442-foot home run in the third inning. Dunn pinch-hit for Peavy in the eighth inning after Hudson singled, and Matheny brought in left-hander Marc Rzepczynski for a second chance against Dunn, who had hit his 21st home run against him on Tuesday but didn’t start Wednesday because of a slightly sprained right ankle.
This time, Dunn rolled into a double play, prompting a fist pump from the Cardinals reliever.
It was the second time Dunn grounded into a double play this season.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save, needing AL hitting leader Paul Konerko to ground into a game-ending double play with runners at first and third.
Before the game, Ventura said disabled left-hander John Danks might make one more minor-league rehab start, but it’s possible Danks returns to the rotation as soon as the Cubs series at U.S. Cellular Field early next week.
With rookie lefty Jose Quintana providing consistently good starts since taking Danks’ place in the rotation, Ventura was asked if the Sox would consider a six-man rotation when Danks returns — a ploy the Sox adopted last season.
“No, it would throw people off,’’ Ventura said. “I would stay away from that.’’