White Sox

Santos blows lead, game as Tigers sweep Sox


Santos blows lead, game as Tigers sweep Sox

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011Posted: 4:17 p.m. Updated: 6:13 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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WATCH: Pierzynski speechless at defeatWATCH: Axelrod pleased with startWATCH: Santos discusses blown save

It took this, the 75th loss of the season and one of seeming dozens of the heartbreaking variety, for A.J. Pierzynski to lose his voice.

Im out of words, the rapscallion catcher said, after a fall-from ahead, 6-5 Chicago White Sox loss in 10 innings to the Detroit Tigers. This is one of those things you cant stop. You play a really good game and have a three-run lead in the ninth, lose it. I get up in the ninth and get a good pitch to hit, hit it real hard and goes right to the second baseman for a double play.

A.J.s play-by-play tells the story. Pinch-hitter Alex Avila drove a Sergio Santos fastball 409 feet to right-center for his first career pinch-homer, tying the game. The game appeared to be salvaged in the last ups by the White Sox, who used two walks and a stolen base to push leadoff hitter Juan Pierre to third base with one out, but Pierzynski grounded into a double play to end the inning, punctuating his disgust with helmet slams and kicks both on the field and in the dugout.

Postgame, manager Ozzie Guillen admitted for the first time that the fire definitely had gone out in his team.

Hell no, their fight left three days ago, I don't care what they say, Guillen said, launching in to an instructional about how second place money could pay for Christmas gifts for his coaches kids. The fight? No, I dont see it.

Candidly, Guillens captain, Paul Konerko, admitted that Guillen was telling the truth.

Since we got knocked back there in Detroit two weekends ago, mathematically out and realistically out are two different things, he said. Hes probably right its probably been more than three games. But thats what comes with the territory this time of year Unfortunately at this point its become a job. You hope it stays fun and you hope you get to the playoffs, but that doesnt happen for everybody.

Guillen called the loss embarrassing, as per usual not mincing words.

It's embarrassing because we should have won this, he said. You start a kid Dylan Axelrod who just came from the Independent League, and he shut Detroit down. All of sudden these big-league pitchers couldn't stop them. Look at yourself in the mirror and see how big-league you are. If players are happy the season's over, good. But every time you lose a game like that and you have a little bit of pride, you should be ashamed of yourself. Those ones hurt. I have baseball running through my blood. It's hard to watch.

Axelrod indeed pitched extremely well in his first major league start, whiffing eight over six innings.

It's a shame. This kid's pitching very well and all of a sudden we just blew it for him, Guillen lamented. A very nice day, you see this kid having success in his first time in the big leagues, and all of the sudden, poof, another bad day for the White Sox.

Axelrods teammates were similarly bummed that the postgame beer shower evaporated with one swing from Avila.

He got the ball and did his job. He shut down a team that has been on a good roll, Santos said. Kudos to him that he did his job and he pitched fantastic.

He threw great. He deserved a win. He pitched really well, Pierzynski said. He changed speeds, moved the ball in and out, up and down. He threw really well for his first big league start. It was fun to watch and nice to see he creates a good angle to make the ball sink and cut. And he throws strikes and works fast, and thats what you are looking for.

Axelrod was as upbeat as possible after the game, perhaps as much a reflection of not having been around for the first five months of misery as his strong starting debut.

It was fun, just good to get out there and make my first start, show what I can do. I just had a blast out there, he said. It's nice to get individual accolades like wins and things, but it's a team game. Unfortunately we came out on the losing end, but I was happy with what I did and just want to continue to build off that.

With Axelrods no-decision in the books and the double gut-punch of Detroits rally and the White Soxs inability to tap in a run in the bottom or the ninth, the final result was hardly in doubt.

First and third with one out in the ninth, and we cant score, Guillen said. It the way weve played all year long.

In the 10th, Victor Martinez lined a one-out double down the right-field line, with Carlos Guillen following with an RBI single up the middle to provide the eventual victory.

Detroit, apparently now playing the role of the Minnesota Twins for the Pale Hose this season, have swept through Chicago for two straight series and beaten the White Sox in nine of 14 overall. Chicagos gilded pitching staff finished the season battered by the Bengals, sporting a 6.09 ERA and coughing up 106 total earned runs vs. Detroit in 2011.

The White Sox fell to 73-75 and back into third place in the Central, using this afternoons utter deflation as a springboard to the final road trip of the season, to Kansas City and Cleveland. And if any of the Chicago 9 cant find the motivation to finish out the next couple of weeks, the jefe has a message.

Whoever doesnt want to play, make sure you let me know, Guillen said. I dont want to waste my time playing people if they dont want to play, and keep suffering and getting older and wrinkled and white hair when a player doesnt care. Im not pointing any fingers at anybody, but if anybody out there doesnt want to perform, its easy: Call Kenny, call Jerry, make sure you stay home and get at it next year like I hear all the time in the paper. Have a better year next year.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's 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 Baltimore Orioles?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

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 Baltimore Orioles?

Perhaps a better question for White Sox fans: When’s Manny Machado coming to the South Side? (Better question from me, personally, is when Chicago might acquire Maryland's greatest creation: the crab pretzel. Had in College Park last summer. It's amazing.)

Whether that ends up happening or not is a question for next offseason, but that query is one that plenty of South Side baseball fans on social media have asked for years now. Machado, mentioned in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings in December, is most likely entering his final season as an Oriole. His contract is up at season’s end, and he’s expected to land a gargantuan deal next offseason.

The funny thing is that for all the hullabaloo over the 25-year-old infielder, he’s coming off his worst statistical campaign as a big leaguer. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.782, all three of those percentages seeing huge dropoffs after a sensational 2016 campaign a year prior. His power numbers stayed relatively consistent, but his run and hit totals plummeted as the O’s weren’t quite as a competitive as in years past.

Now, Machado is likely still cruising for a big contract regardless of what he does in 2018. He’s moving to shortstop, which will be interesting. But he’s young enough that even another season like last year won’t make too big a difference, considering how good he’s been throughout his career.

That’s who White Sox fans will be watching whenever their gaze falls on the Baltimore baseball club. (They won’t be alone, by the way, and some contending teams might even try to add him at the trade deadline.) But the O’s are making news for other reasons, recent reasons, in fact.

The biggest name left on the free-agent market finally signed this week, and now the Orioles have a big-time addition to their starting rotation. Unlike Jake Arrieta, it appears Alex Cobb’s waiting game paid off in the form of dollars, years and a no-trade clause. How nice for him. It’s also nice for the O’s, who get to add a guy to a low-key decent starting staff.

Cobb, who had a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season, might not be ready to rock for the start of the regular season considering he didn’t ink a deal until a week out from Opening Day — bet he’s good at staring contests, too — but the trio of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner (another new addition) and Kevin Gausman will be ready, and all those guys are coming off a solid-enough 2017. Bundy had a couple good stretches, posting a 3.03 ERA over his first 13 starts and then a 2.00 ERA in the month of August. Gausman had a 3.31 ERA over his final 18 starts. Cashner, another free-agent signing, had a 3.40 ERA with the Texas Rangers.

So while the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and the better-than-Machado-last-year Jonathan Schoop still make the O’s an offensive threat in a hard-to-win AL East, the starting pitching might be where the magic is this time around.

2017 record: 75-87, fifth place in AL East

Offseason additions: Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Colby Rasmus, Alex Presley, Pedro Araujo, Joely Rodriguez, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Offseason departures: Welington Castillo, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Seth Smith, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley

X-factor: I said it just above, and I'll say it again: Jonathan Schoop was better than Manny Machado last season. Schoop made the All-Star team and finished with 32 homers, 105 RBIs and a .293/.338/.503 slash line. His .841 OPS was one of the best 50 in the game. Should we expect Schoop to be the best middle infielder on the O's in 2018, too? Maybe that's a little extreme, but hey, good to have this guy.

Projected lineup:

1. Tim Beckham, 3B
2. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
3. Manny Machado, SS
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Trey Mancini, DH
7. Colby Rasmus, RF
8. Caleb Joseph, C
9. Alex Presley, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Dylan Bundy
2. Andrew Cashner
3. Kevin Gausman
4. Chris Tillman
5. Mike Wright Jr.

Prediction: Third place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers

Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season


Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season

Rick Renteria's starting rotation isn't exactly official for the start of the season, but it's about as close as it can be.

Maybe "unofficially official" is the best way to go?

The South Side skipper agreed with the assessment of reporters Wednesday in Arizona, saying that an order of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer "sounds right."

Shields was already announced as the White Sox starter for the season opener next Thursday in Kansas City. That wasn't much of a surprise considering Shields' veteran status in this rotation.

Giolito, who made seven starts at the end of last season and looked mighty good doing it, might be the best starting pitcher on the team going into the season. He posted a 2.38 ERA in those games, with many fans hoping he would have been the one to take on the Royals in the opener. It sounds like he'll likely pitch two days later in Game 2 against the Crowns.

Lopez made eight starts at the end of last season, turning in a 4.72 ERA in those starts. He's another former highly touted prospect who will get a full season to continue his development at the major league level.

Gonzalez was brought back this winter after being traded away from the South Side last summer to bring another veteran mentor type to help along these young pitchers. He had a 4.31 ERA before the trade to the Texas Rangers after a 3.73 ERA in a full season with the White Sox in 2016.

Fulmer is another young arm who will be looking to earn a spot in the crowded rotation of the future this season. He's had a rough spring — though turned in his best start of the spring earlier this week — but he'll be given every opportunity to prove he can succeed as a big league starting pitcher after showing some promise at the end of last season.

Those first three guys will face off against the Royals on the season's opening weekend. Gonzalez and Fulmer are expected to make their first starts of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada.