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Weak finishing effort

(June 9)

Short Take:  Injuries catching up to Sox

For all the silly talk amongst Cubs fans (sorry folks, that's an oxymoron) about the Sox's pitching trouble for this game, it was in fact injuries to position players that came back to haunt our Pale Hose.  Jerry Manuel is playing with less than a full roster of talent with the latest rash of injuries costing the Sox this game, 4-3 in ten innings to a team that obviously holds first place by default in the anemic N.L. Central.

Are the Cubs still signing 4-F's for their championship run?  Apparently everyone else in their division is.

Add Jose Valentin and Herbert Perry as two injured players whose presence was sorely missed in this game.  Let's see, that list also includes Frank Thomas, Cal Eldred, Jim Parque, Bill Simas, Lorenzo Barcelo, Antonio Osuna, and certainly others we've forgotten.  The point is the electricity Valentin provided at the top of the Sox order was missing Saturday, and Perry's replacement at third base, utility man Tony Graffanino ,was given a bit more to handle than he's probably cut out to deliver.

That's not to say Graffanino lost this game.  There were plenty of boneheaded plays besides Graff's misplay of a tag out at third base in the tenth inning, or even his double play tap back to the pitcher to end a Sox rally in the ninth.

Manuel had nobody on the bench to help out in this game.  He had to pinch hit Sandy Alomar at a time he clearly wishes he didn't need to.  Joe Crede, fresh up from Charlotte looked clueless in his pinch hit opportunity.  Manuel thought better of using McKay Christensen as a pinch hitter; likewise for Harold Baines who seems to have slipped into a black hole on the far end of Manuel's bench.

For all the shaky talent and mental gaffes, the Sox still nearly won this ballgame.  A two-out rally culminated in a clutch two-rbi single by Magglio Ordonez to tie the game 3-3.  Carlos Lee kept it going with a single, pushing Ordonez to third.  The rally ended right there because Jeff Liefer was next.  He was putting the finishing touches on his 0 for 5 performance (including two strikeouts) with a fly out on the very first pitch.  Instead of going to the ninth inning needing just three outs to win, the Sox were only tied with Cubs.  They would pay dearly.

A ninth inning rally was started by Royce Clayton reaching on a fielding error, then advancing to third on a two-base error.  It was nipped short of fruition because of Graffanino's aforementioned double-play tap out.

The tenth inning rally died when Liefer achieved his second strikeout of the day, with the tying run at second base and the winning run on first.  It was one of those days, Sox Fans.

Rubber game Sunday.  Let's hope our starting pitcher, Kip Wells, can stay healthy.  That's more than either David Wells or Rocky Biddle were lucky enough to achieve the first two games! 

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner

Magglio Ordonez

An eighth inning two-rbi single with two-outs, two-strikes and the Sox down 3-1--the clutch scoring hit of the game.  It was the last one the Sox had on the day.  It shouldn't have been.

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