The Denver Post’s Troy E. Renck on White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, having gone from AA to taming the defending World Champs in less than a year.
Jenks’ outing Wednesday was hard to describe, a 25-year-old making his first postseason appearance against the club-toting Red Sox. He wasn’t perfect, lacking that electric, unhittable pitch that Rodriguez unveiled in 2002 for the Angels. But he survived a double, a walk, and retired, among others, Boston’s Manny Ramirez.
“He was pretty excited, and that’s only natural,” Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “He just amazes me. He believes in himself and has confidence he can get outs. He relaxed and had fun out there.”
Fun is perhaps the last word an opponent would attach to Jenks’ name. What’s he like to face? Picture Olympic wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner. The two have roughly the same physique – 6-foot-3, 270 pounds – if not face. But rather than arm-twisting a foe into submission, Jenks unleashes 100 mph fastballs.
Part Rulon, part Nolan Ryan. It’s no wonder Boston second baseman Tony Graffanino offered this summation of Jenks.
“When the monster came in,” Graffanino said, “we had no chance.”
Jenks (above) appeared in 32 games with the White Sox, supplanting Dustin Hermanson as the closer in September. Hermanson was bothered by a stiff back, though White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen ultimately couldn’t ignore Jenks’ stuff. He accents his heater with an 85-mph slider, a slow curve and a changeup.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you throw up here, they are going to hit it if that’s all you’ve got,” said Jenks, who was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on Dec. 17, 2004 from the Angels. “You have to keep the hitters off balance.”
Jenks’ transition to the big leagues has been as colorful as the tattoos that cover his enormous body. He struck out 50 hitters in 39 1/3 innings, blew a critical Sept. 14 game against Kansas City and rebounded, converting his past four save opportunities.