The Tribe, which last won fewer than 70 games in back-to-back seasons in 1927-28, got single runs in the fifth and sixth to cut the White Sox edge to 5-3. In the fifth,Carlin hit his secondhome run and in the sixth, Crowe drove in Travis Hafner, who singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.
In addition to losing Crain, the Twins lost Matt Guerrier to the Dodgers, Brian Fuentes to the Athletics, and Jon Rauch to the blue Jays. Additionally, their former all star closer Joe Nathan is coming back after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery. Also, a week into spring training Twins all star first baseman Justin Morneau had yet to play and there was no time table for his return as he continues to deal with a concussion he suffered mid way through last season. With the subtractions and uncertainty of key Twins, it seems that the Sox have overtaken Minnesota as they, along with the Detroit Tigers, battle for the division.
Second baseman Gordon Beckham is expected to improve on his rookie year and second year numbers. Catcher A. J. Pierzynski handles the pitching staff well with veteran leadership but also is consistent at the plate, often coming through in the clutch. Young catcher Tyler Flowers may start to press Pierzynski for playing time this season.
15. Washington Nationals – The Nationals are a better team than they showed for much of the season, but don’t buy into the way they played in September, which featured a lot of games against their terrible division.
American League Rookie of the Year – sale jerseys, Chicago White Sox. Let me introduce you to the left-handed version of Daniel Bard. The White Sox 2010 first-round draft pick is 6-foot-6 (but only 180 pounds) and possesses a 99 mph fastball. There was talk of him potentially replacing the departed Bobby Jenks (and current Red Sox) as closer for the White Sox. Manager Ozzie Guillen decided to go with veteran Matt Thornton instead. But the 34-year-old Thornton has struggled with injuries in the past and will be asked to be a full-time closer for the first time in his career. If Thornton gets injured or struggles, watch for Sale to step in.
Brad Ziegler finished the year with a 3.26 ERA, but that number doesn’t tell an honest truth. Ziegler struggled, taking a bullpen-high seven losses on the year, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was downright mediocre: he struck out only 41 batters in 60 2/3 innings, while walking 28 batters. Putting that many batters on base with a free pass is a big problem for a reliever.
Danks’ located his fastball with perfection, keeping it down in the zone and right on the corners of the strike zone. His cutter jammed Twins hitters all day, and his changeup and curveball kept them off-balance. Under the circumstances, it was the best outing of Danks’ career without a doubt.
After a stellar 2009 season, Michael Wuertz began the year injured and rarely flashed his previous form. Finishing the year with a 4.31 ERA, Wuertz was often very inconsistent — resulting in a lot of anxious moments. Wuertz still had the ability to strikeout hitters regularly, but his walks were way up.