Going into their West Coast road trip, the White Sox were at .500 and had their sights set on one thing: winning each of the series that they play in.
After they won Friday night’s game behind Adam Dunn’s strong performance, they could secure the upper hand in the first series by notching a win Saturday afternoon.
Luckily for the Sox, their number 5 pitcher Phillip Humber was taking the mound.
Humber dominated, becoming the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game in MLB history.
His performance was highlighted by being able to keep his pitch count under 100 (96) and retiring nine batters via the strikeout. The former first round draft pick by the New York Mets has struggled to live up to his potential overall for the first several years of his career, but he seems to have found a comfortable home on the south side of Chicago.
Humber carried a solid 3.75 ERA in his breakout season of 2011. Photo courtesy Keith Allison via Wikimedia
After having his first start of the year skipped due to a postponement in Cleveland, he was plenty ready to get his first opportunity on the hill this past Monday. It was a battle for Humber, but he pitched well, only letting up 1 ER through 5.1 innings.
After that game, I posted about how performances like that would be great to get on a consistent basis from our back-end of the rotation guy. I never imagined that he’d be the guy to give the White Sox what just may be the spark they needed.
Now at 8-6, the Sox are going for the sweep in Seattle today. There’s no doubt that after being able to celebrate as a team on the field, they have as much momentum as a team can have in mid-April.
While it was great to see them out there celebrating, we now just need to hope that sort of occasion becomes a pattern for our White Sox; not perfect games becoming a pattern per say, but that type of positive, upbeat atmosphere is what we need to see from a squad that is trying to shock the masses.
Going forward, the White Sox need to capitalize on this momentum. It would be easy for me to say that they have to put this exciting experience in the back of their minds and try to not think of it very often, but for a team that needs to keep the veterans fresh while sparking the youngsters at the same time, I think a perfect game and post-game celebration was exactly what they needed.
The first person to attack Humber on the field after the 27th hitter was retired was veteran Jake Peavy. We need the older guys’ like him to stay fresh and excited, and it’s small things like watching him sprint to celebrate with his teammate that tells me he is indeed in that right state of mind. And it’s worth noting that youngsters like Chris Sale were not far behind Peavy in joining the celebration.
Now obviously, the Sox aren’t the type of team that is poised to dominate at many points in the season, but having your number 5 pitcher throw a perfect game is a great boost of confidence because it reminds you of the great pitching depth you have, and that there are guys from top to bottom that can pick up their teammates.
And while the Sox may not have the best rotation, bullpen, or lineup on paper, they are all units that are still very formidable and can shine through to surprise people if many of the players can live up to their potential, just like Humber did on Saturday afternoon.
All in all, Humber’s performance can be summed up with one word….MERCY!
Follow all of Zach’s musings on the White Sox at GrabSomeBench.com and follow him on Twitter at @Grab_Some_Bench.