In the wake of record setting rainfall in the Chicago area, the following areas were declared disaster areas: all roads near the Des Plaines River, DuPage County and the White Sox bullpen.
Indeed, for most of the weekend the Sox were up Ike's creek without a paddle.
When, after two days of delayed action, baseball finally resumed Sunday afternoon, the Sox swept a doubleheader from the Tigers--the first a Sox team has won two on the same day since 2001--to regain a 1.5 game lead on the Twins. But it wasn't easy.
To keep with the flooding theme, both the Sox and Twins are doing nothing more than treading water, and as the end of the season nears, whoever can bail out the most flood water and salvage the most boxes from their drenched basement will walk away with the AL Central. But unless one of these teams finds a more permanent way to prevent seepage, the rainstorm that is the playoffs will defeat them for good.
OK, one more: In a Sox bullpen taking on water at alarming speeds, Matt Thornton has been the sump pump. There, I'm done.
It is true though that Thornton is just as streaky as Octavio Dotel. The difference is, right now Thornton is on a hot streak while Dotel is enduring his worst stretch of the season. Several others have postulated that, not having thrown more than 50 innings since 2004, Dotel has simply hit a wall with a full workload. He's up to 62.0 innings this year, and the last chunk of them have been horrendous. He's allowed 6 HRs in his last 11 appearances, and his velocity, movement and control all seem to have diminished.
Unfortunately, the rest of the lot (many of whom contributed to blowing a 7-0 seventh inning lead to the Tigers on Sunday), aren't much better at this point. Scott Linebrink hasn't shaken off the rust, or is still injured; Boone Logan looks like he's stuck on Boone's Farm; DJ Carrasco has regressed to the mean; Horacio Ramirez has been a bust (8 ER, 6 BB, 19 hits in 10.2 innings with the Sox) and Ehren Wassermann...come on, it's Ehren Wassermann! Even Bobby Jenks has struggled lately, though I am more apt to believe he'll respond in crunch time.
Mike Macdougal has shown some flashes of competence, but basically it's been Thornton or nothing lately. With the Sox offense struggling as well (Obligatory "fire Greg Walker" mention), the full load has been on the backs of the starters, all of whom have been solid of late. But they can't carry this team across the finish line alone.
By the way, Nick Swisher is now 1-for-his-last-22 (which works out to a .045 batting average). In his earlier struggles this season, astute observers blamed a portion of his struggles on bad luck: the hits weren't falling despite a high Line Drive Rate (LD%).
(It is generally believed that a batter's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) should be about 120 points higher than his LD%. Any more and he is getting a little lucky; any less and he is getting a lot of hang wiffums. Swisher's BABIP has consistently been only 20 points higher than his LD% this season-- that's about 100 points of unluckiness, statistically.)
While that theory looks good in numbers, it probably has little to do with his recent struggles, as I haven't seen Swish hit a line drive in weeks. His swing seems wholly out of whack and, some clutch homers notwithstanding, it's essentially a pop out or strike out every time up. When Paulie gets back (could be as early as tonight), hopefully Swish will ride the pine for a few days.