Scott Merkin whets our White Sox appetite today on whitesox.com with some facts, figures and projections to chew on:
* Pitchers and catchers report on February 23
* Full squad reports on February 28
* First Spring Training game, March 5, vs. the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch
* Opening Day, April 6, at Texas
Merkin’s Projected Batting Order:
Alejandro DeAza CF, Gordon Beckham 2B, Paul Konerko 1B, Adam Dunn DH, Alex Rios LF, A.J. Pierzynski C, Alexei Ramirez SS, Dayan Viciedo RF, Brent Morel 3B
John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Philip Humber
Matt Thornton Closer, Jesse Crain RH setup man, Will Ohman LH setup man (with all other spots up for grabs). Key bullpen prospect to watch is Addison Reed, who very well might be the closer (my two cents, not Merkin’s).
Nestor Molina RHP, Dan Johnson 1B, Ozzie Martinez IF and, of course, the skipper Robin Ventura
Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Ramon Castro, Jason Frasor
Duh, yeah, Alex Rios, you’re right about that: “The more wins we get, the better off we will be.”
I guess the White Sox centerfielder could be excused for his Yogism after he had a lot to do with the White Sox’s rare laugher this afternoon as they blanked the defending American League champion Rangers, 10-0. It was a banner day for the beleaguered Rios both at bat and in the field.
On a day like this when everything is clicking, it’s a pleasure to look at the box score:
–The South Siders scored 10 runs on 16 hits.
–Homers were cranked by Rios and Brent Lillibridge.
–A three-hit day was enjoyed by Lillibridge while Rios, Juan Pierre, Paul Konerko,Tyler Flowers, Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham had two hits apiece. The only Sox player without a hit was Alexei Ramirez, but he scored a run after drawing a walk.
–Other offensive highlights included a three RBI day by De Aza, two apiece by Pierre, Lillibridge and Rios and Flowers’ three runs scored.
—Gavin Floyd was outstanding as he won his 11th game. In seven innings, he gave up just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Chris Sale pitched a scoreless eighth and Jason Frasor struck out the side in the ninth.
–The only blemishes were the two errors, one by Lilli and one by Alexei.
With the victory the Sox are back at .500. They remain five games in back of the Tigers and are now just a half-game behind the Indians.
Sox Note of Note: It’s likely that Carlos Quentin won’t be back in the lineup until the end of the week at the earliest. The possibility of him being put on the DL is still there with Dayan Viciedo waiting in the wings.
Last night, after the White Sox failed to score Alex Rios from third base with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Indians, it felt like it just wasn’t going to be our night–and, more to the point, it’s just not our year.
The Sox ultimately survived the 14-inning, 5 hour and 21 minute marathon, 8-7, thanks to Juan Pierre‘s game-winning single, but it was a maddening night for those of us watching the game. A game that put us over the .500 mark for the first time since April and moved us to within a half-game of the second-place Tribe.
Here’s what I mean:
–The Sox collected an impressive 22 hits, led by Paul Konerko and Brent Morel with four each, but stranded 16 runners.
–We threatened the record books with five triples (Rios, Alejandro De Aza 2, Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers), but only two of them scored.
–The bullpen outpenned the Cleveland pen, as all six full-time relievers saw action. But Chris Sale gave up a homer to Travis Hafner in the eighth and Sergio Santos blew a save in the ninth to allow the Indians to tie the game and send it into extras.
But in the end, the Sox were able to pull it out and there were a host of positives. In addition to Konerko, Morel, the five triples and a mostly solid bullpen, Pierre homered (only his second) and had three hits in all. De Aza also totaled three hits and two RBIs (he’s pictured above sliding in with one of his triples) while Flowers had a double and a single and drove in a run. Even a struggling Gordon Beckham came through with a 14th inning double and scored the winning run.
It was a long night and I’m still trying to wake up. I would be feeling a whole lot worse if the uplifting win was, instead, a disheartening loss.
If Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and their young Royals’ teammates played everybody like they do the White Sox, Kansas City would be an A.L. Central contender instead of 20 games below .500.
After Friday night’s 5-1 drubbing, it’s a relief to see the Sox escape with a 5-4 win last night–especially at home and following two rain delays. The winning run came across the plate as a result of a bases-loaded walk to Alejandro De Aza, but we’ll take it.
In the “what else is new?” category, Paul Konerko clubbed his 27th homer in the third inning, a two-run blast that gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead. The advantage was lost in the fifth as K.C. touched up Jake Peavy for four runs, but Tyler Flowers (pictured above, being congratulated by Juan Pierre) got the South Siders within a run in the fifth with his first major league home run. A Carlos Quentin RBI double and the De Aza base on balls turned the tide for good in the seventh. Then, Jesse Crain ( 1 1/3 innings) and Chris Sale, who set down the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth for his fourth save, shut the door.
With the Tigers and Indians once again defeating the Orioles and Twins, respectively, the victory was a must. But the truth is they are all a must at this stage as the Sox try to make up the five-game Detroit deficit.
Sox Note of Note: At the beginning of the season, Pierre was going through a rocky time. He wasn’t getting on base, he wasn’t stealing bases when he did get on and his defense was bad at best. He’s still not close to his league-leading SB total from a year ago, but his defense has improved and, after his three hits last night, he’s now batting .285.
After an inning and a half in last night’s game against the Twins, you could just imagine all the TVs and radios being shut off in disgust wherever White Sox fans had gathered.
The Sox blew a golden opportunity to take a sizeable lead by leaving the bases loaded after scoring just a single run in the top of the first. Then, a ground ball got through the legs of Adam Dunn at first base that paved the way for three unearned runs for Minny in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the second, Alejandro De Aza singled to lead off the inning, but was quickly caught stealing. Brent Morel reached on an error and Juan Pierre walked to set up a potential one-out rally. You guessed it, Alexei Ramirez grounded out and Paul Konerko popped out to the shortstop. Nada.
I know what you’re thinking. We’ve seen this movie before. But for the first time in a week, there was a different ending. Thanks to two players who can’t be blamed for the team’s woes this season, Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle, the Sox were able to win a game, snapping their six-game slide with a 5-3 victory.
Quentin hit a pair of homers and drove in four runs while Buehrle gave up only four hits in eight innings, allowing no earned runs and lowering his ERA to 3.04.
The Zach Stewart Era Begins Tonight
When minor leaguer Zach Stewart was recently acquired along with proven reliever Jason Fraser in the Edwin Jackson/Mark Teahen trade, Kenny Williams made it clear that Stewart would be in the major leagues before the end of the season.
The comment was somewhat surprising, but the 24-year-old righthander did make three major league starts in June before he was sent back to AA New Hampshire.
The future is now–as in tonight–for Stewart, who will take the mound for the Sox against Carl Pavano and the Twins with Jake Peavy being moved back to Sunday. It’ll be a challenge for the former high draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds as Pavano has had his way with the South Siders this season.
To make room for Stewart, the Sox designated reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.
Quite a day on the South Side. Here are some of the highlights:
–The 2-1 victory over the Tigers, giving the Sox their second straight series win over Detroit and enabling them to move within 3 1/2 games of the division leaders.
—Alejandro De Aza (above), just up from Charlotte, hit his first major league home run, which proved to be the difference in today’s triumph.
–De Aza’s promotion has moved Alex Rios to the bench, a smart move considering the latter’s disastrous season both at the plate and in the field.
—John Danks was outstanding today, giving up only a run and six hits in six innings along with 10 strikeouts. Most impressive was the fact he got out of jam after jam against the tough Tiger lineup.
–The Trade: Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and minor league pitcher Zach Stewart. The fact that Jackson will be a free agent at the end of the season made his departure an obvious move. Teahen is addition by subtraction. And Frasor, a Chicagoan who has always been tough on his hometown/new team, will be a big help in the pen.
For the record, Jackson was quickly dealt from the Jays to the Cardinals for centerfielder Colby Rasmus, who was rumored to coveted by the Sox. Counting Toronto, who Jackson never played for, St. Louis is Jackson’s seventh team–Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals–in his nine big league campaigns.
–Extra! Extra! Adam Dunn didn’t strike out today and had a hit and three walks. A cause for celebration.
–The bullpen has been extraordinary most of the season. This afternoon was no exception as Chris Sale and Sergio Santos (21st save) preserved the Danks win, coming in for three frames of perfect relief. Sale did most of the heavy lifting in his 2 2/3 innings of work as Santos retired one batter–Brennan Boesch, who made the final out.
Sox Note of Note: Apart from the Jackson deal, rumors are flying that other moves are on the way as the Sox try to cut some payroll. Could Matt Thornton, Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin or even Danks and Gavin Floyd be next?
While rumors are swirling that he may once again be on the trading block, Edwin Jackson today pitched his finest game since joining the Sox nearly a year ago with a 5-0 complete game shutout of the Tigers. It was his first CG since pitching his no-hitter with the Diamondbacks last June.
Jackson’s usual bugaboo is his inconsistency and lack of control, resulting in high pitch counts. But that wasn’t the case this afternoon in Detroit as he sailed through nine innings on just 101 pitches. He’s now 6-7 and lowered his ERA to under 4.00 (3.97).
If Jackson remains with the Sox, the hope is that he can repeat what he did today on a more consistent basis. If the Sox plan to trade him, which would mean the righthander would be shipped to his sixth team (Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, D-backs, Sox), Edwin did Kenny Williams a favor by showcasing himself in the best possible light.
In addition to Jackson’s gem, two of the Sox first-half whipping boys were keys to the offense. Juan Pierre went 4 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI while Gordon Beckham had his second consecutive two-hit game and also scored a run and drove one in. Pierre has elevated his BA to .275 and Beckham is now at .252. Carlos Quentin had his second straight three-hit game, including his 18th homer.
Even though Adam Dunn delivered a clutch hit in last night’s victory he went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts today. His non-producing buddy, Alex Rios, was also 0 for 4 with two K’s. Dunn is now at a season low .159 and Rios, now at .207, keeps tumbling as well.
Sox Note of Note: If the uniform Jackson is wearing in the above photo threw you off a bit, it’s a throwback uniform the South Siders wore today in tribute to the Chicago American Giants of the Negro Leagues.
It’s been a long time coming, but the White Sox reached the .500 mark today with a nail-biting 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley for their fourth straight win. Phil Humber (above), who has been nothing short of extraordinary all season, chalked up his eighth win in seven innings of work. The season’s most pleasant surprise outpitched Matt Garza, who went all the way in the loss.
The South Siders went hitless for five innings before the red-hot Juan Pierre (who else?) collected the first Sox hit and drove in their lone run in the same at bat in the sixth.
With Sergio Santos having pitched three days in a row, Matt Thornton was called upon to preserve the shutout. He did, hurling two perfect frames for his third save. Another spectacular performance by a bullpen that has been nothing less than spectacular in recent days.
Nothing’s perfect, though, and if an Adam Dunn resurgence is forthcoming it’s going to have to wait. Dunn, playing in right field in place of Carlos Quentin, struck out three times. It seems his nightmare is never going to end.
Sox win 4 of first 5 against the Cubs to win Crosstown Cup with 1 game to go.
For a while it looked like…well, it looked like the same movie we’ve seen a million times. Pitching that keeps us in the game and wasted opportunities by an underachieving offense.
But today, in the rubber game of the series vs. the Rockies, it was a different theme. It was, in short, a satisfying come-from-behind extra inning 6-4 victory. A far cry from the tough and controversial loss in the opener.
Down 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Sox scored one in the seventh, two in the eighth to tie the game and two in the 10th to take the lead. Sergio Santos pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save. He was preceded by starter Jake Peavy, who settled down after allowing a three-run, first inning homer to Troy Tulowitzki, and Will Ohman, Chris Sale and Jesse Crain, who each pitched a scoreless inning.
Two of the most maligned White Sox were today’s heroes. Juan Pierre went 3 for 5 with three RBI, including the single that bounced off the right field wall to score the fifth and sixth runs in the 10th. Gordon Beckham went 3 for 3 with a walk, homered and drove in a pair.
Sox are now 40-42 and remain four games in back of the division lead as they head into Wrigley tomorrow for a three-game series with you know who.
When you don’t have the answers, pull out the cliches:
- You can’t win when you don’t score.
- You’re not as bad as you look when you’re losing and not as good as you look when you’re winning.
- A team that’s not hitting looks more lethargic than it really is.
I don’t know what else to say. This White Sox team of the “All In” expectations entering this season has become a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma. From day to day you never know what team is going to show up.
The biggest issue, of course, has been the offense–an offense that seemed destined to break out on a daily basis. They have been a far cry from what we expected. You only have to look at the last three games, the first three of the road trip. Losing each contest, the South Siders scored one run in the two games against the Twins and scored just a single run last night against ex-Sox Daniel Hudson in the 4-1 loss to the surging D-backs. Surprise, it was a Paul Konerko homer.
Sox Notes of Note: Ozzie insists that Juan Pierre will remain in the leadoff spot and left field despite the pressure to recall Dayan Viciedo and move Carlos Quentin to left. Guillen also added “as long as he’s here.” I wonder if that was a throw away line or a Freudian slip–and there’s some movement behind the scenes to move Juan…While Pierre’s job is safe right now, Brent Lillibridge will be in the leadoff spot and in left field today against Arizona lefty Zach Duke. Brent Morel will be in the No. 2 hole, Alexei Ramirez will bat fifth and Ramon Castro will be behind the plate.