"They've got a lineup of power all the way through," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, after the White Sox knocked out 15 hits, including three home runs, before 32,502 at U.S. Cellular Field. "Quentin's absence has created a hole, but if any club can absorb such a loss, this could be the one."
The White Sox have found vast success and then maintained this level of excellence through the replacement parts picking up where the injured starters left off. Take Juan Uribe, as an example.
All but forgotten after losing his second-base job to Alexei Ramirez earlier this season, the new starting third baseman single-handedly put down the Angels (85-55) in the early going. Ken Griffey Jr. opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first off of Dustin Moseley (1-4), filling in for an injured Jered Weaver, but then Uribe went to work with two-run shots in the second and the third.
Uribe now has seven career multihomer games and seven home runs this season, going deep for his first time since Aug. 17 in Oakland. After Uribe's second home run, the comically intriguing figure made a brief comment to White Sox starter Mark Buehrle in the dugout, causing the southpaw to burst into laughter.
" 'Unbelievable' and then I started laughing," said Buehrle of Uribe's one-word commentary on his accomplishments. "We kind of joked before the game, 'Hey, Buehrle is pitching, so do something today.' He said, 'My brother, my brother, I'll pick him up.' He picked me up, all right."
"When he's hot, he can carry a ballclub," added Guillen. "This kid ... you don't know how much power he's got, how good a hitter he can be. He goes through those collapses where it looks like he's never played the game before. But this guy, we kept him for a reason."
Buehrle (12-11) was the recipient of this offensive outburst, which raised the South Siders' record at home to an impressive 47-22. The southpaw hurled six scoreless innings, yielding three hits, while striking out seven and walking two.
According to Paul Konerko, who launched his 14th home run among three hits to raise his average to .245, Buehrle serves as the ideal hurler to present an early advantage.
"He's one of the best pitchers in baseball with that sort of lead because he works quick and gets you back in to hit," Konerko said. "But top to bottom, it was a good night and definitely a big first game to get."
"Obviously, getting runs early, if I make mistakes, I don't have to worry about losing the game or losing the lead," added Buehrle, who defeated the Angels for the first time since Aug. 8, 2001, and posted his first home win over the Angels in nine starts.
Scott Linebrink made his second appearance of the second half, battling all the way back from soreness under his right shoulder that left him inactive since July 22. Linebrink walked the first hitter he faced in his customary eighth inning, but didn't allow a run courtesy of a spectacular double play turned by shortstop Ramirez and Uribe, who had moved to second base. Ramirez flipped the ball with his glove to Uribe, who caught it barehanded and threw a strike to first.
The right-handed setup man felt eager to get back out on the mound and see what he had left in the tank. Linebrink also was happy to see his first pitch register over 90 mph on the stadium speed gun.
"It's definitely a step forward," said Linebrink, who threw only five of his 15 pitches for strikes but knows those numbers will improve with increased workload. "All things considered, I think it went pretty well."
Orlando Cabrera and Jermaine Dye joined Konerko with three hits apiece, helping the White Sox maintain their 1 1/2-game lead over the Twins. On a day that could have been filled with gloom following the official announcement concerning Quentin's injury, Chicago went out and exhibited how Quentin's presence makes the team better but his absence doesn't necessarily make this lineup worse.
"Everybody at this time is going to feel some injuries," Scioscia said. "The White Sox certainly are, and we are, too. Although it's a huge bat to take out of the lineup, if they pitch and do the things they can do, they're going to be tough."
"Our lineup, if we never had Carlos on our team, and you looked at our club, you would say this is a pretty good offensive club," Konerko added. "We still have enough in this lineup to win games. We would rather do it with Carlos and it would be easier. We can't think about it when we get out there. Other teams have had to deal with it as well. It's just ours came in September."