Phil Humber has people paying attention to the White Sox. Perfect games, even against Pony League-caliber offenses like the Mariners', have that effect.
I'll leave the bulk of the perfecto reaction for the MDH to sports editor T.G. Smith, who swapped column days with me so he could get his Humber throughts into Tuesday's paper. What Humber did was obviously really, really cool. But what is more substantiative for me if I'm a White Sox fan than a random one-game harmonization of great stuff, great control and great luck is the fact that the Sox swept the Mariners and moved to 9-6 on the season.
That's right. A team nobody expected to contend this season (I picked them to win 71 games, I'll own up to it) is tied for the third-best record in the loaded American League. I thought the Sox losing three of four to the lowly Orioles to begin last week might be the start of them sliding off the tracks; they bounced right back to sweep Seattle in three and are within a half game of Detroit.
Maybe Humber really is a solid big-league starter, and maybe him adding a slider and getting rid of his cutter has made a difference for him. But Saturday was an abberation, as is Humber's 0.63 ERA to date. It's one of the things with the Sox team you have to chalk up to it still being early, like A.J. Pierzynski's 1.054 OPS, Alejandro De Aza's .534 slugging percentage and the 0.00 ERAs of both Addison Reed and Matt Thornton.
Yet there are a few things from the 15 games that have been played that I think Sox fans have every right to be encouraged by. Jake Peavy has thrown 19 2/3 fantastic innings in three starts and seems healthy. Chris Sale's transition from starter to reliever has been relatively seamless. Alex Rios has pretty quietly hit .333/.396/.511 to date. Even Adam Dunn's .246/.348/.509 triple slash is encouraging, even if it's not necessarily dazzling.
Saturday was a great day for Sox fans, but the great thing is that it's not necessarily going to be the high point of their season. I don't know what the Sox are, but they sure look now like a team capable of playing relevant baseball throughout the summer.