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An Afternoon At The Ballmall

And we thought the Mets were bad.

It being 80 degrees today and that, as you know, is unusual for Chicago in April, I decided to take in the Indians-White Sox game at the Cell.

No, I won't say anything about the Sox fans today. Well, except how few of them there were, 12,189 announced, and it looked like about half that many in the stands.

The game was enormously entertaining. I ran into Dave (who has Sox as well as Cubs season tickets), and Brian and Kevin there, along with Mrs. Dave who I think I've only met twice before, even though I've known Dave for 25 years. She was there mostly because the entire family is close friends with Indians OF Jody Gerut, who grew up in the area and played high school ball at Willowbrook High School. Dave said that Jody's almost like another son to the family.

Anyway, I sat with all of them and watched a crazily-mismanaged game, won by the White Sox 9-8 with one of the weirdest bottom-of-the-9th rallies you'll ever see.

The Sox have little pitching apart from Mark Buehrle and Esteban Loaiza and they proved it again today, blowing a 2-0 first-inning lead, and giving up six in the fourth, including a rare error on Magglio Ordonez allowing a couple of the six to score. Ozzie Guillen either fell asleep in the dugout (I was nodding off myself for a bit) by leaving Schoeneweis in for 113 pitches, or maybe it was just his bullpen being run ragged in the 10-inning game they played last night.

Meanwhile, Eric Wedge was doing just about anything he could to give the game back. Jason Davis threw pretty well for six innings, but when Juan Uribe homered and then Frank Thomas doubled, Wedge lifted him. At 106 pitches, this is understandable, but Cleveland's bullpen is awful. They managed to muddle through the 8th only giving one more back, on a solo HR by Joe Crede.

The Sox bullpen, strangely enough, was holding on. Shingo Takatsu, the Japanese import, befuddled Cleveland hitters and Mike Jackson shut them down for two innings.

Bottom of the 9th, the fun started. With a four-run lead Wedge was forced to bring in his "closer", David Riske (only in that spot because the real closer, Bob Wickman, is out till at least July). Uribe singled and Ordonez homered, and after an out and a double, Riske was removed for the charmingly-named Rafael Betancourt, who immediately got Paul Konerko to pop up to Ben Broussard, who had come in for defensive purposes.

He dropped it. In fairness, it was very windy today, and it was not an easy play. But still.

That totally unravelled Betancourt. Two singles later, the game was tied and Sandy Alomar drove in the winning run with a sac fly. Betancourt is now 2-3, and that's an awful lot of decisions for a middle reliever in April.

That was the first four-run, bottom-of-the-ninth lead blown since... well, since the White Sox blew one on Opening Day in Kansas City only three weeks ago.

I said "entertaining". I didn't say good baseball.

That is what we hope to see tonight as Greg Maddux rights the ship. I have learned that the two losses are the fault of the guy I met through the Cubs newsgroup, last month in the Phoenix area. He lives there and attended both games and rooted for the Diamondbacks, the traitor. OK, he lives there. I guess that can be excused, but he will stay home tonight.

UPDATE! I have just learned that Kerry Wood has been suspended for five games due to his tirade against Eric Cooper on the 17th. This is absurd, as there was no bumping the umpire, and the calls were ridiculous. I assume Wood will appeal.

Dusty Baker was also suspended for a game as a result of the lineup snafu the previous day, and the tirade he went into on the field. Baker will not appeal and will sit out tonight's game against the Diamondbacks.