Buehrle wins second Gold Glove on season's first day

The last two times Mark Buehrle captured the imagination of a nation, the Sox have gone into a tailspin. Let’s hope incredible defensive plays don’t count the same as no-hitters and MLB records.
And by the way, you know it’s a special, special play when the opposing radio crew gets more excited about it than the home team.  Let’s watch it again, until MLB.com takes it down because it doesn’t give people the option of sharing awesome moments:

If Monday afternoon is any indication, however, he has at least one new weapon in his arsenal to combat his slide, and he tipped his hand a couple of days ago:

“I’m throwing the fastballs in and locating to righties the best it has been, even during the season,” Buehrle said. “I’ve been working on getting lefties out, with Cooper talking about throwing in more to lefties — even using offspeed.

He did just that. He only threw a handful of changes to left-handed hitters, but he looked great doing so.
Buehrle threw one to Grady Sizemore in each of his first two at-bats.  The first resulted in a soft groundout to second; Sizemore was way ahead of the second, and it set up a high fastball that Sizemore lofted harmlessly to center.
In Shin-Soo Choo’s second at-bat (or as Hawk Harrelson calls him, Shin-Sin Choo), Buehrle doubled up with changeups.  Choo took the first one, but he was way out in front when Buehrle doubled up, resulting in a K.
Choo entered the game 5-for-12 against Buehrle with a double, triple, homer and an HBP.  He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
So far, Buehrle’s experiment is working.  Lefties generally shy away from throwing changes to lefties, because the pitch breaks toward the power spot — down and in.  At this point, though, he needs to keep lefties off his fastball however he can, and Monday was a great start toward that end. The three hits Buehrle allowed were all soft.
His changeups will be worth charting the next time he faces the Indians.  He has the benefit of novelty on his side right now, but as it becomes more and more a part of the scouting report, we’ll see how great that pitch really is.
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Speaking of early returns, Alex Rios got off to a sorely needed hot start.  His homer to center was one of two hard-hit balls on the day — the other was a hard-luck out courtesy of a diving Asdrubal Cabrera.
What jumped out to me immediately was the positioning of Rios’ hands.  They looked awfully low, and my eyes weren’t lying.  I took screen shots of Rios over three different periods of his brief Sox career:

From left, Rios from August (when he sucked), October (when he was better), Monday, and June 2008.
I didn’t pay particularly close attention to Rios when he was in Toronto, but because he said he watched old film to figure out where he went wrong, I threw that last frame in for comparison.
I’m not sure how much we can gather from it, but I found it interesting to see that 1) Rios used to hold his hands high, 2) he crouched more, and 3) stood closer to the plate.  Maybe Rios used the old footage for balance or weight transfer, because his new stance looks nothing like his old one.
Rios can stand however he wants as long as he doesn’t topple over himself like he did for his first six weeks in a White Sox uniform.  Judging from the way he stayed on top of that outer-half pitch from Tony Sipp, maybe he’s found that balance after all.
And let’s not underestimate the impact of the diving catch he made to end the game, in terms of reputation and reception.  Rios had been criticized in Toronto for coasting, and he drew comparisons to Javier Vazquez for a lack of outward intensity.  Going all-out with a six-run lead in the ninth inning of the first game of the season should win him some friends.
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Three items of business:
No. 1: There’s a new game recap blog, State of the Sox 2010.  So adjust your RSS feeds and bookmarks accordingly, should you use that method.
No. 2: I disabled the mobile theme for the time being, because I upgraded to the new version of the plugin, and the mobile theme showed up in regular browsers, both PC and Mac.  So it’s off for now, and I’ll revert to the old version when I’m back.
No. 3: Last but not least, you may have noticed those ESPN-branded navbars across the top of the site.  That’s because I’ve joined the ESPN SweetSpot network run by Rob Neyer.
There are further plans for expansion, but what this means so far is:

I’ll let you know when other features are rolled out as well, but it should be a pretty fun project to be involved in.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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packpowerfan

Amazing play, amazing pitching performance to start the season, and an amazingly cohesive offensive game today. We didn’t hit all that well, but the work on the basepaths was very crisp (although Carlos was lost both times Beckham advanced to third). Can’t wait to see Jake start on Wednesday!
Btw, I figure a lot of people FROM Chicago read this blog, so I thought I’d clarify that my username is not packpowerfan as in Packers, rather it refers to the NC State Wolfpack, where I attend. Go Go White Sox!

duke

Congratulations on the ESPN deal. You deserve it; as far as I’m concerned, you’re the best White Sox blogger out there.
Oh, and as long as we’re explaining user names, my name has nothing to do with the university in North Carolina. Duke is just a nickname I’ve had since I was a child.

fustercluck

Seconded on the congrats, nice hustle. For one, I thought Neyer forgot about expanding the Sweet Spot blog roll, and it would forever commemorate the 2009 playoff teams. And second, I never thought he would let the White Sox in.
“fustercluck” sounds like “clusterfuck,” and that word gives me the giggles

mechanicalturk

Glad to see you getting some publicity, Jim. You’re one of my favorite sports writers, along of course with Joe Posnanski and Kyle Whelliston (his friend of a friend status is canceled out by basketball being my worst sport, both to play and as a fan, but seriously http://www.midmajority.com/ is a great site and you should check it out. /plug) and reading your work is always a pleasure. The frustration of having a small market like Kansas City get a great writer like Posnanski has always been doubled when I get stuck reading someone like Jay Mariotti or Joe Cowley, and while having some of the great fan-generated content out there eases the blow at the same time it adds to the frustration, since I could be reading the stuff I find here in the paper if they only knew who to hire.
tl;dr jim=good, more jim=more good

fundman

Glad Neyer has recognized what we all know – you cover the Sox better than any print/online source. And on a night that the Dawgs lost to the evil Dook empire, I’m glad to see Paulie start off hot, Carlos take 2 for the team and Beckham have his first on his way to 50 doubles this year.

knoxfire30

2nd that

knoxfire30

Great game, as well as it could have gone, right guys hitting the ball, good defense including the play of the year, and great pitching. Might be one of the best five games the sox play all year, hopefully its one of the best 50 and they are awesome but… its day one I will hold off my excitement.
Small thing I noticed and was wondering if it was just me, Juan Pierre didnt get one good jump, didnt look comfortable on any ball all day, what the heck? Nervs or just getting use to the ballpark?

sars

being bad might have something to do with it 🙂
congrats on the ESPN deal, jim…that’s awesome

ceverettsdinosaurs

Incredible game yesterday, unfortunately it ruined my productivity while I was secretly watching it on my slingbox in my office.
I thought it was interesting that the broadcasters of the Twins-Angels game yesterday were talking about how lefties don’t often throw changeups to lefties, but, as usual the mainstream media failed to explain the reason for shying away. Lo and behold I come to Soxmachine this morning (as I do every morning on my way to work) and find out a concise explanation for it. Just goes to show the quality and knowledge that non-mainstream media can provide where mainstream leaves you wondering.
Jim, Congrats on the ESPN gig, nice to see the site getting the recognition it deserves.
Also, if you don’t know the meaning of my username then maybe you haven’t been a Sox fan that long.

cushinglee

As of now, Jim, you are probably the smartest person with any sort of connection to ESPN.

striker

Congrats on the ESPN deal Jim! Hopefully that helps you sell books too. Just finished this past weekend and LOVED it.
Great job by Buehrle. The Sox offense needs to do better though. Yes we scored 6 runs but that was due more to Westbrook’s wildness than our own run production. We were still 1/7 RISP and 6/28 overall. That might get us past Cleveland but not the rest of the league.

ricksch

Congrats on the ESPN deal Jim. I just happened upon your site about a year ago and stayed because the analysis is intelligent and the information reliable. You do a great job moderating and seeing both sides of an argument. These are wonderful talents to have. The good guys win another one! Best of everything!

oralsoxpodcast

What a fantastic way to start the season. Buehrle’s got a knack for the spectacular, but what else would you expect from Mr. Perfect. I’ll pile on with the congrats about the ESPN deal. Well, well deserved as there is no other Sox blog I turn to more for comprehensive coverage and for the laughs. Keep it up Jim. Loved the book (buy it already if you haven’t) and look forward to reading you all season.
username is self explanatory…hopefully.

marshlands

Gongrats on the ESPN deal, Jim! You DO have the good face.
FIRE MARK KOTSAY