DECATUR – Shucks, Jose Abreu failed to hit a home run.
Otherwise, my weekend trip to Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., was peachy keen.
The Chicago White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays twice and lost once. That's excellent for the Sox after a horrible August, skidding as many as 18 games under .500. Won 2, lost 1 is a .667 percentage any manager would do a somersault for.
So the excursion with my daughter, Kristin, and my son, Jerrold, and his wife, Julie, was the usual success. I confess to liking all trips, especially nowadays as my 88th birthday looms.
Come with me to Tropicana Field in cool comfort, and out of the rain,in the dome in St. Petersburg:
DAY 1: Up at 4 a.m. For the drive to St. Louis and the Southwest Airlines gate.
Arriving in Tampa in the early afternoon we rush to the house rented for this special occasion at a bargain price. The three-bedroom house measures up and then some, particularly the swimming pool. Then, it begins to rain. It rains all night. No problem. The dome keeps us dry. And the Sox win 4-3 behind Jose Quintana. After trailing 3-0, the Sox come up with a four-run fifth, including a two-run double by Avisail Garcia and then hold on. Abreu is 1-for-2, a run-scoring single. Quintana gets his ninth victory with unusually excellent relief work by Jake Petricka, Eric Surkamp and Zach Putnam.
DAY 2: It's sunny. After breakfast at FirstWatch, we head for the Salvador Dali Museum on the downtown waterfront. This is the second Dali Museum, opened in 2011. It has a huge collection of 98 Dali oil paintings, more than 100 watercolors and 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objects d'art. The Spanish painter, noted for his surrealist work, was in the U.S. for eight years in the 1940s. He died in 1989 at age 84.
Lunch is at The Hangar near the museum. Meatloaf, of course. Dinner is the usual hot dog, loaded with relish.
Saturday night, the Sox lose 3-1 as Chris Archer outpitches Hector Noesi. Abreu gets one hit, a single.
DAY 3: It's the last home game for the Rays. The Sox respond in unexpected fashion. Garcia hits two home runs and Marcus Semien adds a three-run homer. The Sox lead 10-0 and win 10-5 as Johnny Danks takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Wow! No anxious moments this time.
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Abreu drives in a run with a single, RBI No. 105. The farewell dinner follows at Moon Under Water, a British-style pub on the waterfront. Fish and chips, of course.
DAY 4: This is getaway day. Not before a stroll through the Sunken Gardens. The St. Petersburg landmark is is described as “a botanical experience” and indeed it is, containing exotic subtropical trees, flowers and plants. Plus, wildlife, including flamingos and parrots. The diversity of nature was never more in evidence. Thunder causes a hasty retreat and it's time to take the bridge to Tampa for the return flight to St. Louis and then the drive to Decatur, arriving about midnight.
White Sox analysis
At least the 99 losses of 2013 have been avoided. Barely.
Although Abreu and Chris Sale have had all-star seasons, scoring is still the problem, along with a horrible relief crew. Ronald Belisario lost eight games. Take out the starter in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning in a close game and the other team wins. Dan Webb lacks control. Javy Guerra and Maikel Cleto are hopeless. So is Matt Lindstrom. There is no closer.
Hitting? Catcher Tyler Flowers can't hit. Second baseman Carlos Sanchez can't hit. Also in the
no-hit class: Jordan Danks, Josh Phegley, Andy Wilkins, Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia. Dayán Viciedo is inconsistent.
On the positive side, Garcia is a keeper, although he missed about half the season because of injuries. The starting pitching is OK. Alexei Ramirez, Conor Gillaspie and Adam Eaton are keepers,
Let's make next season enjoyable instead of frustrating.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jose Abreu, 36 homers, .300 hitter, league leader in slugging percentage.