White Sox

Jackson stings Detroit in White Sox debut

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Jackson stings Detroit in White Sox debut

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Updated: 11:58 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT Edwin Jackson takes some strange routes to domination.

His no-hitters run 149 pitches and eight walks. His most stellar season came in the hitting-happy American League.

And his debut for the first-place Chicago White Sox came in the form of a nine-hit, seven-plus inning gem against his former teammates, the Detroit Tigers.

It was this latest bout of dominant pitching that pushed the White Sox to a 4-1 win over Detroit, taking the second of three games in this key, four-game intradivisional series.

He did a great job and threw strikes, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. I didnt know he threw that hard, and his command was outstanding.

I was just attacking the strike zone, making them put the ball in play, Jackson said. When you do that, the odds are in your favor as a pitcher. And the defense worked behind me.

Jackson was uncharacteristically pinpoint with his pitches on Wednesday, finishing with just one walk and zero wild pitches. For a pitcher averaging four free passes per nine innings and who had tossed a National League-leading 13 wild pitches with the Arizona Diamondbacks, thats a sure sign that White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper has immediately spun some magic.

Unmoved? Consider that until Jacksons final batter, Miguel Cabrera, no Detroit hitter worked Jackson to a single three-ball count, much less a walk.

It was my mistake letting him go out for the last inning, Guillen said. He was sitting down for too long, 20 minutes. I came out of my game plan for no reason. It wasnt a good move on my part. He couldnt find the plate. I take the blame for that one.

Despite otherwise owning the plate and drawing countless short at-bats from the Tigers, Jackson was in trouble in each of the first four innings, allowing nine total baserunners. But the righty proved elusive, leaving eight men on base in those first four innings.

The way he worked his rhythm and tempo and everything, it was really nice to see, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. As long as he throws strikes, hes going to be fine.

Chicago struck early on offense, as Juan Pierre led off the game with a single and then had his 500th career stolen base on a 3-1 count, but it was erased by Alex Rios drawing a walk on the pitch. With two on, Paul Konerko stroked a single to left, scoring Pierre.

The rest of the Chisox runs came courtesy of the long ball. The first, extending the Chicago 9s lead to 3-0, came courtesy of a Carlos Quentin missile to left in the fourth that plated Konerko as well. After the smash, the Twitterwaves were all aflutter, claiming the crack of the bat could be heard back to Chicago and all the way out to California.

Hes not far from getting back and getting very, very dangerous as a hitter, Guillen said. A couple of balls, he just barely missed. In a couple more days hes going to go back to where he was two weeks ago.

The final score came in the sixth inning, on a Konerko rocket down the left-field line.

After Jackson struggled with his control in the eighth, walking Cabrera on four pitches, he left the virus on the mound for reliever J.J. Putz to catch. Putz walked Brennan Boesch on four pitches, and after Jhonny Peralta lined out to Rios, Brandon Inge stroked a soft single to short right that triggered a bizarre chain reaction. Andruw Jones fielded the ball but fell on his throw home, where an unadvisedly aggressive Cabrera was barreling; Joness Wiffleball toss hit the pitchers mound, then ricocheted plateward to hit Cabrera as he scored. This being baseball and not kickball, the run counted, and the shutout dissipated.

That was all for Putz, who was rescued by bullpen BFF Matt Thornton. The ace lefty quickly extinguished pinch-hitters Ryan Raburn and Jeff Frazier.

In the ninth, Bobby Jenks came on for a dominating 1-2-3 save, his 23rd in 25 tries.

Jackson may only have been away from the AL Central for five months of baseball time, but after winning six games in the final two months of last season for the playoff-chasing Tigers, hes right back in the thick of thingsand on Wednesday, it was Detroit who was in the way.

We have faith in whoevers out there, said Pierzynski, who believed pitching against Detroit provided some extra excitement for Jackson. But you bring in a guy whos been an All-Star and won big games in the American League, it definitely is a plus.

Jackson disagreed with the backstops assessment of his pitching motivation on Wednesday, but that was the only way in which the pair failed to click for this perfect debut.

I didnt take any more satisfaction beating Detroit than winning the game, period, Jackson said. This is the pennant race. The key is to win every game. My job is going out every fifth day and giving our team a chance to win.

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

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: