Paul Konerko delivered the 92nd five-hit game in the last 92 years for the White Sox, but more importantly he paced the Sox to the team's first series win in a month.
For reference, the White Sox have had seven games in which a player collected five hits since 2000. Three of those five-hit games have been pulled off by Konerko, who had pentahit games in 2005 and 2010 before Sunday. For fun, the other players to pull off the feat: Alex Rios (2010), Jerry Owens (yes, Jerry Owens...2007), A.J. Pierzynski (2006), Willie Harris (2004) and Chris Singleton (2000). In further meaningless statistic news, the White Sox went 6-1 in those games (including Sunday) and are 78-13-1 when a Sox player gets five hits.
Konerko's fourth-inning one-out double sparked a two-run inning that initially put the Sox ahead. And after Seattle tied things up, Konerko drove home an insurance run in extras to put the Sox up by three. While Konerko's hits didn't always lead to a run scoring, though, seeing him bang out five hits was a promising sign for this struggling lineup.
And make no mistake about it, this lineup is still struggling. Yes, they now have 29 hits in the last two games. But striking out nine times with just two walks in five innings facing Erik Bedard wasn't the most encouraging development. Knocking around Brandon League in the tenth was nice to see, but through nine innings it looked like the same old White Sox offense.
Based on his 5.00+ ERA and FIP, Bedard seemed like the perfect candidate for the White Sox offense to carry over its success from Saturday. But Sunday turned out to be similar to the last two times the White Sox scored six runs, both of which were followed by the Sox offense sputtering against Justin Verlander (who's good) and Francisco Liriano (who still hasn't proven much despite the no-hitter).
Monday night in Los Angeles the Sox will draw Ervin Santana, who doesn't appear to be a very favorable matchup for the Sox. His 4.43 ERA isn't impressive, but he's pitched much better than that number would indicate. The right-hander features a 3.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has a fine 3.12 FIP, so don't let his ERA fool you: the Sox are getting a very difficult draw Monday.
The Sox will likely face Santana with Brent Morel hitting second, which is an interesting decision by Ozzie Guillen. Morel picked up two hits today to raise his season batting average (which is one hit by pitch away from being his on-base percentage) to .229, and by the looks of it, his BABIP is starting to regress to the mean. But he still hasn't taken a walk, and until he does more than a few times, his OBP is destined to stay below .300.
Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez hasn't been hitting, but his on-base percentage has been fine. It began today at .319, and with a hit and two walks Sunday it went up. An OBP in the .320s isn't ideal for a No. 2 hitter, but it's better than an OBP in the .230s or .240s. Unfortunately, Ramirez' general inability to bunt is going to cost the Sox lineup, which needs as many runners on base ahead of Adam Dunn/Konerko/Carlos Quentin/Alex Rios it can get. Moving Morel up doesn't come close to maximizing that.
Enough with the negativity
Sergio Santos still hasn't allowed a run this year after two shutout innings Sunday in which he struck out three and walked one. While the Sox haven't officially placed the closer label on him yet, it's not that hard to deduce that Santos is the team's closer. The big thing for him will be how he responds to a blown save. He'll probably be fine, but when that time does come there won't be much for him to refer back to in his career. That being said, let me repeat: he'll probably be fine.
And finally, Mark Buehrle turned in his third quality start with eight innings of two-run ball Sunday against Seattle. When Buehrle limits his walks and keeps the ball on the ground, he's able to pull together starts like that. I was concerned about Buehrle after he allowed a combined 10 runs against Los Angeles and Detroit in back-to-back starts in April, but he's quelled those fears with his solid outings against New York, Baltimore and now Seattle.