White Sox

Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem


Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 5:55 p.m. Updated: 8:28 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini

CHICAGO The third time was the charm for Phil Humber.

The 28-year-old righty threw the game of his life in the White Sox's 4-2 win Saturday afternoon, turning his third career start (and first for the White Sox) into a sort of masterpiece alleviating the pressing need for Jake Peavy to rush back into the Chicago rotation.

We had a good game plan going in, and A. J. took care of me behind the plate, Humber said. I made pitches when I had to. Last night was a tough loss, and everybody came to play today.

He was great, catcher A.J. Pierzynski returned. He was the story of the gamethe way he threw the ball, especially the way last nights game ended. To come out and shut them down the way he did, it was awesome.

WATCH: Pierzynski laughs off Lopez altercation

The most important person to impressWhite Sox manager Ozzie Guillencertainly was.

Great, wow, said the jefe of his fifth starters effort. He got an opportunity to win the game, he pitched very well, he got in trouble in one inning maybe, but he threw the ball very, very good, threw strikes. He gave us more than what we thought he was going to give us. It was outstanding today.

And thats just the impact Humber had hoped to have.

Hopefully it wasnt a surprise, he said. They got me on the team because they wanted me on the team, they didnt just throw me out there because they didnt have anybody else. They believe in me, and that gives me a lot of confidence as a player.

You always want to at least meet the expectations, if not exceed them. I dont know what they were, but I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win, and thankfully I was able to do that.

The outcome was in doubt for a full nine innings, however, as the Pale Hose were opposed by Wade Davis, who authored a best-seller of his own, holding the high-octane Chisox to two runs on five hits in six innings of work.

They are a good team, Pierzynski said. You can say what you want, but Wade Davis has always pitched very well against us. Hes tough. He changes speeds very well. He mixes up his pitches very well. Hes a good pitcherthey signed him to a long-term deal because hes good.

Davis was rescued from potential catastrophe in the fourth, when Juan Pierre hit a two-out, bases-loaded, screaming line drive into the right-field corner that Sam Fuld laid out to snag and retire the side. Pierre was inches away from a potential game-breaking, inside-the-park grand slam.

WATCH: Pierre still can't believe the catch

Guillen laughed off the notion that Pierre was thatclose to a granny, with a loud laugh.

Maybe five or six years ago, it was an inside-the-parker, but I dont know about now, Guillen said. I dont remember seeing any catch better than that. The situation, where he was playing, this kid went a long way. If that ball landed, it would be a different ballgame. Its just a helluva play.

It was an incredible catch, and I tip my hat to him that he didnt kill himself on the fence and he got there and made the play, Pierzynski said. It was an amazing play.

Fulds belly flop followed Brent Morels single, a rather hilarious Rhode Island Leaguer pop that floated tantalizingly beyond Davis grasp for a bases-loaded single.

Thank God Brent Morel hit that ball a foot too far, where Davis he couldnt reach it, Pierzynski said.

In the seventh, Chicago finally drove Davis from the box and immediately doubled its lead, as Pierzynski drove a deep double to right that Fuld failed to handle. The two-run knock would ultimately prove to be the game winner for the South Siders.

Sergio Santos, Fireman of the First Week for the Sox, came on to anesthetize the Rays with a scoreless eighth, giving way to fellow young gun Chris Sale, who earned the save after giving up a home run to Felipe Lopez in the ninth.

Guillen was thrilled at how his team bounced back after expressing before the game that hed be studying how much fight his troops had in them.

Good teams are supposed to not carry what happened the night before to the next day, whether you win or lose, he said. We brought a lot of energy. We knew it would be a challenge to see how we could bounce back from the game last night and I was very satisfied with what I saw.
Did U.S. Cellular Field witness MLB's best defensive play for the second straight season? Sam Fuld's full-speed running dive to make this catch robbed Juan Pierre of at least a triple and three RBIs. (AP)
Not Fuld

Fulds amazing catch in the fourth was the defensive story of the game.

Somebody said that guy is really good in the outfield, and hes made some nice plays against us these three games, but that catch he made off of Pierre is one of the best catches Ive ever seen, Pierzynski said. Honestly, he ran like 50 yards to get to that ball.

Closing time

While Guillen was clear not to spark a closer controversy, he did edge a bit back toward a closer-by-committee situation, judging by his postgame remarks.

Thornton was beat up todayhe threw a lot of pitches yesterday, Guillen said. But this is what youre going to see: Im going to go with my gut feeling. Obviously, Thornton is going to get the most opportunities, but Im the manager of this ballclub and Im going to put the best guys out there, the ones I think are going to do the job.

"The way Santos is throwing, Sale is throwing, if Thornton needs a break well give it to him. Matt threw like 30 pitches FridayI know he couldnt pitch today.

Guillen had a brief conference in the clubhouse with Sale after the game, and also cited Santos as a closer in a more specific way than he has yet this season.

Whenever your name's called, you have to go out there and do your job, and do it the best you can, Sale said of his save opportunity. It just so happened today I was throwing in the ninth. You go out there with the same mindset: Get three outs, get this game wrapped up, and go home with the win.

At the end of the day its a goal of mine to be closer, but until they name somebody Im going to be in that same role whether its the sixth, seventh, or eighth, Santos said. When my names called, Im gonna give the same effort as if Im closing the game.

Santos has had an unbelievable run through 2011 so far, unscored upon in spring training and now stretching his scoreless streak to four regular season games as well.

Everythings starting to come together a little bit. Everything is working in my favor, he said. If I miss a spot, they hit it to somebody. Im making the pitches I need to with two strikes, putting guys away. Im in a good rhythm right now and I just want to ride it out for as long as I can.

Santos is very aggressivedont be surprised if you see Santos in the ninth, Guillen said. All the people out there, they see closerthats a title. I dont know who gets that title. Im going to go by my gutwhat I feel, what my pitching coach feels, what I feel is best for the ballclub. Santos threw the ball very well.

Weve done it before. In 2005, I had three closers. In 2007, I had seven closersnobody could close. But I gotta go about what is best for the ballclub, its not about individual numbers and titles.

In the end, no one has replaced Thornton as the teams stopper.

"As far as were concerned, Thornton is still our closer, and were going to fill in in front of him, Santos said.

Box Score

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the New York Yankees?

You know how everybody always (usually jokingly) refers to “stacked” lineups as the ‘27 Yankees? Well, it might be time to change that to the ‘18 Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers did their nickname justice this winter, adding reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and teaming him with Aaron Judge to form a power-hitting combo perhaps unseen since the Ruth-Gehrig glory days.

Now that’s not to suggest that Stanton and Judge are going to become two of the greatest baseball players in history. But it is to suggest that they’re going to strike fear into opposing pitchers, with plenty of prognosticators predicting a combined 100 homers for the duo. That’s not crazy, either, considering Stanton led baseball with 59 bombs a season ago, the highest single-season total in almost two decades, and in a runaway Rookie of the Year campaign, Judge crushed 52 homers to lead the American League.

So, you know, 59 plus 52. That’s more than 100.

And while Stanton and Judge take all the attention, the Yankees’ lineup is pretty darn good outside of those two guys, too. Gary Sanchez is one of baseball’s best offensive catchers and hit an only shabby-by-comparison 33 homers last season. Didi Gregorius has plenty of pop for a shortstop, and he smacked 25 homers last season. Brett Gardner had a strong 2017. And even two late-in-the-offseason additions to the infield, Neil Walker and Brandon Drury, form a better 8-9 combo than most teams in the AL.

There’s no need to start spreading the news, it’s already been spread: The Yankees have one of the best, most fearsome offenses in the game.

As for the pitching, well that ain’t half bad either. Luis Severino had a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts last season. CC Sabathia had a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts. Midseason acquisition Sonny Gray had a 3.55 ERA on the year. Masahiro Tanaka almost hit the 200-strikeout plateau.

And that bullpen is outstanding. Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren formed as good a relief corps as you were likely to find in baseball last year.

Even with the division-rival Red Sox looking pretty good — and coming off a 93-win season — the Yanks will enter 2018 as the favorite in the always-competitive AL East. The question is how close they’ll come to being the favorite in the AL overall. The defending-champion Houston Astros still seem a hair ahead after besting the Yankees in last year’s ALCS. But the Bombers might have the preseason edge over the Cleveland Indians, especially after beating them in the playoffs last year.

Bottom line: The Yankees are really, really good. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of Billy Joel during the Fall Classic. "Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood ..."

2017 record: 91-71, second place in AL East, lost in ALCS

Offseason additions: Giancarlo Stanton, Neil Walker, Brandon Drury

Offseason departures: Todd Frazier, Jaime Garcia, Michael Pineda, Starlin Castro

X-factor: White Sox fans know how good Robertson and Kahnle were last season. Chapman and Betances are now household names as elite relief pitchers. But the best reliever of this whole group at the end of last season was Green, who finished the year with a 1.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 69 innings. Over his final 30 games, 47 innings, he had an even lower 1.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts. He allowed one run in September. And though he was roughed up a bit in his lone appearance against the Indians in the ALDS, he allowed just one unearned run in 6.1 innings against the Astros in the ALCS.

Projected lineup:

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
4. Gary Sanchez, C
5. Didi Gregorius, SS
6. Aaron Hicks, CF
7. Greg Bird, 1B
8. Neil Walker, 2B
9. Brandon Drury, 3B

Projected rotation:

1. Luis Severino
2. Masahiro Tanaka
3. CC Sabathia
4. Sonny Gray
5. Jordan Montgomery

Prediction: First place in AL East

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation


Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation

The White Sox center field situation seems to have a solution.

Ryan Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, the team announced Thursday, bringing his bid to make the Opening Day roster to an end.

Cordell had a nice spring in his first action since joining the White Sox organization in last summer's trade that sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cordell was injured after playing 68 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, but he got some love from general manager Rick Hahn at this winter's SoxFest, with Hahn saying three teams had called the White Sox inquiring about the 25-year-old outfielder.

In 17 Cactus League games, Cordell slashed an impressive .317/.417/.512 with six extra-base hits, eight runs scored, eight RBIs, seven walks and only six strikeouts. That performance brought on the idea that Cordell could not only make the team out of camp but perhaps be the Opening Day center fielder, potentially beating out an improved Adam Engel for the job after Engel hit just .166 last season.

But Engel's spring numbers are even better than Cordell's. He's got a .364/.429/.682 slash line with four homers, 11 runs scored, eight RBIs and four walks. Plus, he's already well known as a strong defender in center after last season's impressive glove work. Spring stats don't mean much, but it's a good sign considering how ineffective Engel was at the plate last season.

With Thursday's news and Engel's impressive spring, it seems the White Sox have things figured out in center to start the season. Engel will likely be the starting center fielder, with utility man Leury Garcia an option there in a reserve role. Cordell and Charlie Tilson, who was sent to Charlotte earlier this spring, are sure get plenty of at-bats in the minors and could be called up should Engel struggle.

Both Engel and Cordell fall into the "see what you've got" category for the rebuilding White Sox. The future of the position figures to belong to highly touted prospect Luis Robert, who was reassigned to minor league camp along with pitchers Rob Scahill and Chris Volstad on Thursday, bringing the White Sox to 32 players in big league camp. But with the team not expected to contend in 2018, Engel has an extended opportunity to figure things out at the big league level. Should he struggle, someone like Cordell or Tilson could have a similar opportunity.