The White Sox are two games better than the Yankees according to the teams' actual records (Yanks 17-19, Chisox 18-16), but if you look at their runs scored and allowed, the Yankees are three games better than the White Sox (Yanks 20-16, Chisox 16-18).
The Yankees are 8-5 in the month of May and have only allowed their opponents to score more than three runs in two of those 13 contests. They of course lost both of those games (15-11 to the Mariners in Kei Igawa's last wild ride, and 14-2 to the Rangers when things got away from Chien-Ming Wang and the bullpen this past Thursday), but despite the perceived struggles of their offense, they've only lost three of those 13 games because of a lack of runs. The Yankees have scored 5.15 runs per game in May, which is down from their overall average of 5.56, but would still place them fourth in the American League. Meanwhile, they've only allowed 3.85 runs per game on the month, which would also be the fourth best in the league. It also just happens to be the exact number of runs the White Sox have scored per game over the entire season, barely outpacing the Royals' league-worst offense. The White Sox have been even worse than that in May, scoring just 3.27 runs per game.
Anyone looking for an explanation for that futility need not look much further than the line-up posted below. Darin Erstad leading off? Pablo Ozuna as the designated hitter? Who the heck is Ryan Sweeney anyway? (Answer: he's a 22-year-old rookie outfielder who was hitting .256/.341/.397 for triple-A Charlotte before Jim Thome's back injury necessitated his promotion at the end of April). Even the familiar names in that lineup aren't hitting. Juan Uribe has been the White Sox's most productive hitter thus far and he's hitting a merely league average .255/.321/.447. Jermaine Dye? Nada. Paul Konerko? Zippo. Crede, Iguchi, Pierzynski? Bubkis, Didly and Squat. Over the past week, the team as a whole has hit .208/.269/.302. That they've managed to go 6-5 on the month thus far is a testament to their pitching and nothing else. Heck, Mark Buehrle had to go to the extreme of throwing a no-hitter to get his first win, but he did it.
As a unit, the White Sox's rotation has been outstanding (3.78 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.24 IP/GS), though other than Buehrle's no-no, no individual performances really stand out, while the offense has held that bunch to a 10-12 record. The bullpen has been less consistent, though closer Bobby Jenks continues to silence all of his doubters and new addition David Aardsma, who took Hank Aaron's spot at the top of the record books before Barry Bonds got a chance to, has been flat-out dominant as a set-up man.
Tonight the Yankees face John Danks, who is the newest and, thus far, weakest link in the Sox's rotation. Danks was just part of the package the White Sox received from Texas for Brandon McCarthy and has thus far outpitched McCarthy, which he's expected to do for the remainder of his career. Danks, a hard-throwing 22-year-old lefty with a nasty curve, has made an unexpectedly quick adjustment to the majors. It's a testament to the White Sox rotation that I was able to call Danks the weakest link. The White Sox are just 2-4 in his starts, but they've also scored a grand total of five runs in those four loses, all of which have been pinned on Danks. His last start was his best (6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K @ Min), and while he hasn't really dominated as of yet, he hasn't been blown out either (his worst outing: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K @ Det).
Opposing Danks will be Mike Mussina, who has looked sharp since coming off the DL, allowing just seven hits and a walk in eleven innings. Moose threw just 64 pitches in his first start back and 85 in his last. Here's hoping the Yankees can stretch him out into the high-90s or beyond tonight against the struggling Pale Hose.
Manager: Ozzie Guillen General Manager: Kenny Williams
Home Ballpark (2006 Park Factors): U.S. Cellular Field (103/102)
Who's Replacing Whom?
Darin Erstad replaces Brian Anderson (minors)
Ryan Sweeney is replacing Jim Thome (DL)
Luis Terrero is replacing Scott Podsednik (DL)
Andy Gonzalez is replacing Alex Cintron (Bereavement List)
Gustavo Molina is replacing Chris Widger and Sandy Alomar Jr.
John Danks replaces Freddy Garcia
Andy Sisco replaces Neal Cotts
Nick Masset replaces Brandon McCarthy
David Aardsma replaces David Riske
Mike MacDougal takes over Cliff Politte's innings
1B Paul Konerko (R)
2B Tadahito Iguchi (R)
SS Juan Uribe (R)
3B Joe Crede (R)
C A.J. Pierzynski (R)
RF Jermaine Dye (R)
CF Darin Erstad (L)
LF Ryan Sweeney (L)
DH Pablo Ozuna (R)
L Rob Mackowiak (UT)
R Luis Terrero (OF)
R Andy Gonzalez (IF)
R Gustavo Molina (C)
R John Garland
L Mark Buehrle
R Javier Vazquez
L John Danks
R Jose Contreras
R Bobby Jenks
R Mike MacDougal
L Matt Thornton
R David Aardsma
L Andy Scisco
R Nick Masset
L Boone Logan
15-day DL: L Jim Thome (DH), L Scott Podsednik (LF), R Toby Hall (C)
Bereavement List: S Alex Cintron (IF)
L Darin Erstad (CF)
R Pablo Ozuna (DH)
R Jermaine Dye (RF)
R Paul Konerko (1B)
L A.J. Pierzynski (C)
R Joe Crede (3B)
R Tadahito Iguchi (2B)
L Ryan Sweeney (LF)
R Juan Uribe (SS)