White Sox

Kotsay wills White Sox to win over Tigers

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Kotsay wills White Sox to win over Tigers

Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010
Updated: 6:35 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT The game didnt begin as the biggest endorsement of Ozzieball. It turned on another setback for Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. And it ended with hitting heroics from the unlikeliest of sources, Mark Kotsay.

Kotsays 11th-inning triple drove in two to pace a 6-4 win, heroics that validated his managers faith on a day where a new name (idle free agent Carlos Delgado) was being rumored to replace him.

Before the game, I said we needed more production out of Kotsay and Andruw Jones at DH and they did it today, Ozzie Guillen said. You have to go out there and make things happen. For most of the year, Kotsay has been hitting the ball very well, but with no luck. This game is about results, and today he came up big. We needed that.

Kotsays eventual game-winning triple in the 11th was preceded by what appeared to be an insurance two-run homer in the ninth.

Today felt great because there were some results in the at-bats as opposed to having a good at bat but making outs, he said. It felt good to have a couple of balls fall in.

Kotsays heroics were made necessary when the Detroit Tigers tied the game on a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out, three-run homer by Ryan Raburn off Jenks, who has now blown three games since the All-Star break, two of them on the heels of quality starts from Freddy Garcia.

As Jenks left the field in the ninth with four decisive expletives, the speculation on who would replace him as closer immediately began. Fortunately for Jenks, the White Sox pulling out the win in both the game and the four-game series takes some of the onus off him.

You know what, ask Bobby what he wants to do, I dont know, Guillen said, with more bewilderment than anger. I wont say weve lost confidence, but if youre the closer, you can give up one run. But now were talking about the last three of four times you blow the game, giving up three or four runs. With Bobby as our closer, our bullpen is better, but right now Im not sure what were going to do for the next couple of days.

Jenks was remorseful after the game, not so much about his home-run pitch to Raburn but the 1-2 curveball that broke in and down, drawing a piece of Ramon Santiago (hitting .262 from the left side) to put a second baserunner on and set up Raburns dramatics.

Natch, the closer wants to keep his job: Changing things, thats not up to me. Being strong is a key with anybody thats in this role. If youre not, youre not going to last very long.

While many have doubted Guillens aggressive offensive philosophy, which can be summarized as a constant, multifaceted, old-school assault by bunt, steal or hit. And with runners thrice caught stealing and the teams bunting on the fritz early, it looked like this could be the most egregious example of erroneous offensive strategy yet.

But true to form, in a season where everything wrong turned right again, a game the club was determined to run itself out of took a twist in the fifth inning, when Chicago rallied for two runs, providing what looked to be more than enough support for the Detroit Tiger killer, Garcia.

Guillen opted not to send shaky basestealer Alexei Ramirez to second with a steal attempt after he led off the inning with a walk, and was rewarded with runners on second and third with none out after Ramon Castros double down the left-field line. From there, Chicagos speed and aggressiveness paid dividends. Detroit starter Max Scherzer struck out Gordon Beckham, but not before the distraction of Ramirezs active legs at third drew a run-scoring wild pitch out of the sequence. Then, with Castro at third and Chisox third-base coach Jeff Cox rain-dancing possible squeeze signs down to Juan Pierre in the batters box, Scherzer was thrown enough to offer up an easy, run-scoring single up the middle to Savior Pierre.

Garcia was his extraordinary self, allowing just four hits over six innings before Don Kelly clocked a home run to lead off the seventh to break up the shutout. Garcia then punished Gerald Laird and Austin Jackson for Kellys sins, striking both out on 16-inch softball tosses that corkscrewed the clubbers. Matt Thornton then came on to extinguish pinch-hitter Raburn on a groundout. Though Raburns home run erased Garcias winning effort, hes 8-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his last nine road starts at Comerica Park.

It happens, Garcia said. Its bad luck, but things happen. Im going out and doing everything I can to help the team win. A no-decision is better than a loss, right?

Thornton made things exciting in the eighth, walking both Johnny Damon and Miguel Cabrera to lead off the inning. But the lefty fireballer dialed his fastball up to 97 to obliterate Brennan Boesch on a three-pitch strikeout before giving way to J.J. Putz. The setup ace induced a shotgun blast of a grounder to short, which felled Ramirez but not enough to prevent a 6-4-3 double play to extinguish the threat.

Way back in the first, Pierre stole his 500th career base, prompting a standing ovation from Beckham on the bench and Castro motioning for Pierre to pull the base out of the ground as a keepsake. But the speedster otherwise had some mixed results on the gametwice caught stealing and a failed sacrifice bunt on the negative end, an RBI single and a spectacular, one-handed, double-bobble catch on the run in left to rob Boesch in the sixth to his credit.

Fortunately, given the team effort and heroics from Kotsay and Sergio Santos, who pitched a strong two innings of relief after Jenks and earned his first major-league win, the team was in high spirits as it motored away from the Motor City.

Itll be a better mood, Santos said of the comeback win to end the series. The plane ride to Baltimore will be a lot of fun.

Even Jenks found a way to uptalk one of his toughest games of the season: Today was what it is. Ill be ready to go out there tomorrow. I know its clich, but the important thing is we did get that win today. In the big picture, that ninth inning means nothing as long as we won the game.

And while Guillen seemed genuinely confused over the role hed assign his ace closer for the time being, the skipper was proud of the way the team rallied around Jenks and never lost grip of the game.

The team played very well after the ninth, Guillen said. Those types of games can get you down right away. A lot of teams can sit back and feel sorry for themselves, but we keep fighting. The bullpen kept us in the game, and the guys continued to swing the bat.

Losing this game, it would have made for a long flight, and a lot of long faces. But the guys didnt give up.

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

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."