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WSI News - Totally Biased Game Recaps

Mission: Complete

April 18 at Tampa Bay

Today's Free Agency Value:
"0 for 4 today, 1 for 12 for the series. Batting average drops to .286, but he continues to hit the ball hard."

Short Take: White Sox take the series with a 5-0 victory behind a command performance by Esteban Loaiza.

Make no mistake about it. This was not a fluke.

Esteban Loaiza entered today's game with a career record of 4-6 and a forgettable 8.24 lifetime ERA against the Devil Rays. Past history took a turn today as Loaiza hurled a gem, throwing a complete-game two-hit shutout at Tropicana Field.

The Sox got on the board quickly, small-ball style. Willie Harris led off the game with a line-drive single off loser Jeremi Gonzalez. Harris stole second base, and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make the score 1-0 Sox. As it turns out, that was all they would need on this day. The White Sox would get on the board again in the third inning, when Jose Valentin led off the frame with a home run, number 199 for his career. Not to be outdone, Paul Konerko led off the top of the fourth inning with an opposite field home run, his second of the year.

Loaiza, meanwhile, was cruising. He retired the first 9 D-Ray batters in order, and did not allow a baserunner until Carl Crawford led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a walk. Crawford reached second base on a steal, but was stranded as Loaiza struck out Robert Fick and got Aubrey Huff to ground out to end the threat. In the fifth, Valentin, 2 for 4 on the day, led off with a double. Magglio Ordonez, who has been quiet of late, did a nice job of hitting behind Valentin to move him to third. Frank Thomas then scalded one that had double written all over it. Valentin scored easily on the play, but a scary moment here for Sox fans as Thomas pulled up lame rounding first base clutching his right hamstring. Thomas was thrown out at second, and he limped off the field. He was replaced by Ross Gload, and his status at the time of this report is unknown.

Tino Martinez broke up the no-hit bid with one out in the fifth but Loaiza retired the next two batters without incident. In the Sox half of the sixth, with the Sox up 4-0, catcher Miguel Olivo ripped a two-out triple to the opposite field in right center which he could have made standing up. Harris followed with an RBI double which scampered through the infield and deflected off the glove of second baseman Geoff Blum. This ended Jeremi Gonzalez's day and completed the scoring for the contest. One player who deserves mention but did not figure in the scoring was Aaron Rowand, who scorched two doubles down the third base line for the Sox in his first two at-bats. The Sox tallied a total of 10 hits today, a good indication the bats have not abandoned us.

The story today was Loaiza. He sailed along almost effortlessly and looked in complete command throughout. He allowed a total of 3 baserunners on the afternoon, with Huff accounting for the second and final hit for the Rays in the bottom of the 7th. In all, Loaiza needed 110 pitches to notch his 3rd victory of 2004, allowing no runs and two hits over nine innings, with one walk and 5 strikeouts. This was his first shutout since 2002, and the White Sox first complete game shutout since Mark Buehrle accomplished the feat on Sept. 1, 2000. In short, if today was any indication the Esteban Loaiza of 2003 is back.

The White Sox return home victorious and riding a modest two-game win streak to achieve an early high-water mark of 8-4, 4 games over .500. They will begin a 12-game homestand, the longest of the year, Tuesday night April 20 against the Yankees. Mark Buehrle will be trying to stretch his record to 2-0 against Alex Graman, a southpaw who will be making his major league debut for the Bronx Bombers. Gametime is 7:05 pm CDT.

Ozzieball Update:
Willie Harris, poster-boy for smallball manufactured a run in the first by stealing a base and coming home later on a wild pitch. Miguel Olivo hustled and legged out a two-out triple, scoring on a Harris base hit. Maggs doesn't have the RBI stroke going, but he unselfishly moved Valentin from second to third base with nobody out by grounding out to the second baseman. No big innings, spread out the scoring over 5 different innings. In all, a nice team performance today.

submitted by beckett21.

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner

Esteban Loaiza

Complete game two-hit shutout pretty much sums it up. Virtually unhittable today.

Play WSI's Pick to Click Contest!


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Totally Biased Game Recaps

September 29... The Last (And Lost) Weekend

September 24... Covey Captivates, but Kluber Cruises

September 22... At Least They Won't Clinch Here

September 18...Klubered, but Not Clobbered

September 16... Baltimore Blanked

September 10... Thrown Away

September 8... Anaheim Annihilation

September 3... Power Special

September 1... 18 Strikeouts Later, the White Sox Lose

August 30...Leaky Bullpen Bombed by Boston

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