Memorial Day Match-up – Sox @ Rays

As recently as this spring, I’ve heard prominent publications refer to the Yankees/Red Sox stronghold in the AL East. Even at the time it seemed a strange thing to say. 3 out of the last 4 years the Rays have made the playoffs, 2 of those times by winning the division outright. To look at the standings now, though we’ve not yet exited the month of May, the Orioles and Rays find themselves on top. People get a little sensitive about all the press those Yankees and Red Sox get. The whole east coast bias thing and ESPN being so in love with that rivalry that not a single series between the two slips by without a nationally televised game. There’s something to it though. There is no Red Sox Yankees stronghold. Not anymore. It might come back, but for now, the Rays are part of the discussion. And right now, it’s the Rays that stand between the White Sox and an appearance in first place.

A change of venue can sometimes be the marker that pulls responsibility for shifts in trends or momentum. The Sox have a lot of momentum right now coming off of a 5 game stretch in which the team put up 52 runs. Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios are both looking like the players we’ve been waiting on, Adam Dunn is keeping the Adam-12 thing going and helping us all to push 2011 further back in our minds. And then there is Paul Konerko. Nobody has any real inkling on how to get Paul Konerko out right now. His .399 average going into Monday’s action is the highest for an American League player on this date since Roberto Alomar carried a .401 in 1996. The rational fan in me knows that Konerko will begin coming to earth any moment know. But the White Sox fan in me says, Paul Konerko is absolutely ridiculously and unprecedentedly awesome and will keeping pounding opposing pitchers until there is no longer a need for it. So, until the end of October.

Today, as we honor those who gave their lives for our country, Chris Sale and Matt Moore will do battle to try and finish the day with their respective teams atop their division. Frank Thomas turned 44 yesterday. If you combine Chris Sale and Matt Moore’s ages, it comes to 45. That’s not a lot of experience on the mound, both have plenty to prove. Moore has struggled a bit this season and is looking to right the ship while Sale has excelled but some confusion as to his role on the staff has him working hard to prove that he’s in the right spot.

Today’s Lineup:

1. De Aza – CF
2. Gordo – 2B
3. Big Donkey – 1B
4. Paulie – DH
5. Rios – RF
6. AJ – C
7. Viciedo – LF
8. Alexei – SS
9. Hudson – 3B

Offense slumps, and a Sox hitting slump could come at any moment. It’s important that starting pitching get back to tossing as effectively as they did early on in the season. These rough outings won’t be covered by 12+ run explosions every game.

Topics: Alex Rios, Chris Sale, Gordon Beckham, Matt Moore, Paul Konerko, Rays, Roberto Alomar, White Sox

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