White Sox

LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead


LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 9:51 a.m.

Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers aren't just cruising toward their first division championship since 1987. They're steaming toward that title with one of their longest win streaks in team history.

The Tigers will try to move a step closer to clinching the AL Central by winning 12 in a row for the first time since 1934 on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit (86-62) reduced its magic number to four with a 5-0 win in Chicago on Tuesday, its 21st in 25 games. That victory marked the first time the Tigers had won 11 straight since Sept. 9-21, 1968, a season that ended with a World Series championship.

Detroit has produced at the plate and on the mound during its streak, batting .334 and averaging more than eight runs while posting a 2.36 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera is hitting .390 with 12 RBIs during the run, while Victor Martinez has driven in 17 in Detroit's last nine games.

"You look at the talent around this room, if everybody gets rolling it's going to be tough to beat us," pitcher Justin Verlander said after earning his MLB-best 23rd win Tuesday. "This last couple of weeks, it's been an example of that."

The Tigers haven't won 12 straight since a team record-tying 14-game run July 31-Aug. 14, 1934, but Brad Penny (10-10, 5.19 ERA) may not be the best candidate to help his team accomplish that feat.

The right-hander is 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA over his last nine starts and has allowed 19 runs - 15 earned - over 15 innings in his last three outings. Penny, however, got the win in an 8-4 victory over Minnesota on Friday after allowing four runs over five innings.

"(My teammates are) going to score a lot of runs," Penny said. "If you can keep them somewhat close, you've got a chance to win."

The Tigers have won all four of Penny's starts against the White Sox (73-74) this season, and he's 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA. However, he gave up eight runs - four earned - and 10 hits over five innings in the most recent matchup Sept. 3 and avoided a loss only when Detroit pulled off a stunning rally for a 9-8 victory.

The Tigers have won 20 of 26 over the White Sox, outscoring them 54-15 in five consecutive wins this month. They've also won 10 of 13 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Detroit will try to add to that success by spoiling the first career start for Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00). The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings in relief against Minnesota in his major league debut last Wednesday.

"I'm definitely excited to get that chance. I want to go out there and see what I can do," Axelrod told the White Sox's official website. "It should be great."

Axelrod was 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Charlotte before being recalled last week.

Alex Rios will try to help his rookie teammate by continuing his success against Penny. The outfielder is 13 for 21 with five doubles versus the right-hander in his career and 4 for 9 with one double this season.

Cabrera is batting .381 this season against the White Sox and is 9 for 20 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in the past five matchups.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter

White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter

The White Sox have announced who will toe the rubber when the season begins later this month.

As expected, James Shields will be the team's Opening Day starting pitcher when the White Sox kick off the 2018 campaign against the Kansas City Royals on March 29 at Kauffman Stadium.

The starting rotation's elder statesman at 36, Shields seemed the logical pick for the first start of the season.

It's been a rough go for the one-time All Star since he came to the South Side in a trade with the San Diego Padres in the summer of 2016. In two seasons with the White Sox, he's got a 5.99 ERA with 181 strikeouts and 58 home runs allowed in 231.1 innings. Last season, he made 21 starts, finishing with a 5.23 ERA and 103 strikeouts and 27 home runs allowed in 117 innings.

While that trade still smarts considering the player the White Sox gave up, Fernando Tatis Jr., is currently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in baseball, Shields brings plenty of value to the 2018 rotation as a veteran mentor for young major leaguers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, as well as pitchers making their way to the big leagues like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dylan Cease.

If Shields could rediscover some of the magic that made him a great pitcher during his best years with the Tampa Bay Rays and the aforementioned Royals, with whom he made World Series trips in 2008 and 2014, respectively, and have a strong couple months out of the chute, he could provide Rick Hahn's front office with a midseason trade piece, someone who could potentially fetch a prospect or two that could help advance the franchise's rebuilding efforts.

The Royals have announced that it will be Danny Duffy opposing Shields on Opening Day.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants