Brent Morel's three-run home run and stellar defense helped the Sox to a 4-3 win over Texas Tuesday night. But Juan Pierre's struggles also reared their ugly head on a play in the eighth inning.
Before Morel's home run, all I could think about was Francisco Liriano. Yes, Brent Lillibridge led off Tuesday's game with a single to left off Matt Harrison, but after that, the White Sox didn't have a hit through the next four innings. Harrison did his best to give the Sox scoring opportunities, walking four Sox batters, but the Sox couldn't find a way to pick up the hit they desperately needed.
That is, until Morel came through. That his first home run of the season tied the game was made even more surprising given it was on a 1-2 pitch. It looked as if Harrison was going to wriggle out of another walk-induced jam with the offensively-challenged Morel at the plate.
While Morel's blast didn't carry deep into the stands, it was a no-doubter. The sound off the bat was about as no-doubt as it gets, and Morel knew it as soon as it left the bat (he did a little admiring of it on a slow jog to first).
Couple that blast with some phenomenal defense and, ladies and gentlemen, we have the best game of Brent Morel's career. Hopefully it vaults him to top it soon enough.
Although he still hasn't taken a walk. His ninth-inning at-bat against the aggressively awful Cody Eppley would've been a great opportunity, as the side-arming righty had just walked Gordon Beckham. He had little idea of where the strike zone was, but Ozzie Guillen had Morel attempt to bunt, leading to a strikeout. Oh well.
Pierre's lack of trust: Pointing to all the weak outs, pickoffs, caught stealings and dropped fly balls is a good way of summing up Juan Pierre's struggles this season. But a moment in last night's game epitomized those struggles just as well.
With two outs, Pierre stood on second base after pinch-running for Dallas McPherson. Arthur Rhodes' 1-0 pitch to Paul Konerko was high and outside, and it popped out of Yorvit Torrealba's glove and rolled a pretty good distance away from the Rangers catcher.
In any of the last 10 seasons, Pierre would've immediately taken off running without hesitation for third base. Sure, there are two outs, but Pierre would've trusted his legs to get him there even if his read on the ball wasn't perfect.
On that play, Pierre started, stopped, started, and then stopped before jogging back to second base. That indecisiveness was telling for me, more so than the pickoffs and failed stolen base attempts. Pierre doesn't trust his instincts on the basepaths—the same instincts that led him to steal over 500 bases in his career.
I discussed this with Cheryl from South Side Hit Girl last evening ('twas a pleasure meeting her at the game, by the way), but it's pretty clear Pierre's problems are all in his head. Wednesday was an off day for Pierre, a day that could've been used to clear his head.
Instead, those problems popped back up even in limited time in the game.