Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
Updated 11:37 PM
By Brett Ballantini
Merely keeping pace with the first-place Minnesota Twins, as the Chicago White Sox did with an 8-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles, wont do.
However, the combination of pitching, fielding and hitting that the Chisox put on display on Thursday night, well, that bodes well for a team that remains tantalizingly close to the top of the division.
The pitching was taken upon entirely by Edwin Jackson, who tossed preposterously dangerous stuff for eight innings, mowing down 10 Orioles and allowing just three hits.
That was one of the biggest reasons we brought Jackson here, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Every start has been a tremendous effort. The way he pitches, the innings we get from him, is something we really needed after Jake Peavy went down. Hes doing what hes supposed to be doing.
We needed that, left fielder Juan Pierre said. He saved the bullpen and closed the door. He had his stuff going.
Jackson Kd two in the first inning, whiffed five in his first two frames and finished his eight innings with 10 punchoutsthe first time in his career hes thrown back-to-back games of 10 strikeouts or more.
The erstwhile ace deflected praise postgame: I dont really go for strikeouts; its just one of those things. I want to be as durable as possible and go as deep in the game as I can. I just wanted to stay in the rhythm.
The White Sox also again proved resourceful with with the lumber while not resorting to anything more abrasive than a single to plate runs in the first eight innings. The Pale Hose scored six times in the first five frames to put the game away. In the process, five White Sox tapped out two safeties as part of a 14-hit attack.
Guys are off of suicide watch, said a relieved Pierre, laughing. When some guys in here dont get their hits, its like the end of the world to them.
The pairs of hits from Pierre, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teahen all were trumped by Alex Rios 3-for-4 night, augmented by a stolen base, home run, and three RBIs.
He hit a couple of balls to right field, and then he hit a home run on a good pitch to hit, Guillen said. Im glad he picked it up today; I know how players feel when they struggle, and he wasnt feeling good the last couple of days. He just has to go out there as just another player, and today was as great game for him.
Defensively, Pierre made a sweet catch to end the third, a foul-ground stab into the stands that required the same focus that found him swiping his 50th base an inning later, becoming just the 11th player in White Sox history to steal that many in a season.
Fifty, thats a lot of running, Pierre said, when asked to measure his accomplishment. I still have a lot to do for the team. I dont place much importance on individual achievements.
Apropos of Pierre, hed greeted the group waiting to speak to him at his locker postgame with surprise: I didnt do nothing!
Tony Pena tossed a scoreless ninth to secure the victory.
But the story of the night was the resurgent Jackson. Four starts and a 0.96 ERA later, all the ninnied hand-wringing over acquiring the fireballer a month ago seems rather silly, no?
Jackson fits in very, very well, Guillen said. Its hard when you come from a different team and get put in a pennant race. The expectation is very high, and sometimes you dont know how to handle it. He has handled it well: He came to a city thats desperate to win; hes handled it very well.
I havent felt any extra pressure here, Jackson said in response to his managers speculation. Its been a fresh start. Nobody wants to be the weakest link.
Edwin, here in Chicago, we call our aces anything but weak links. But we appreciate your humility. Speaking of, how did your dominance tonight compare with the no-hitter (on June 25)?
I had eight walks in the no-hitter, Jackson said, smiling a bit sheepishly. I was eight walks from a perfect game.
Man, this guy has a lot to learn about hero worship in Chicago.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.