White Sox

White Sox blast Royals to end losing streak

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White Sox blast Royals to end losing streak

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011Posted: 4:20 p.m. Updated: 5:28 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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WATCH: Pierzynski happy to get a winWATCH: Danks reviews startREAD: Seven things we've learned about the White Sox

KANSAS CITY In a game witnessed by 325 canines for Kauffman Stadiums Bark at the K promotion, both of Sundays starters were doggedly determined to reject good fortune.

The worm turned on the Godfather, Ozzie Guillen, measuring words carefully to Kansas City starter Bruce Chen.

I told Bruce Chen Were going to kick your butt today, the Godfather chuckled. I did. Ask him.

However Ozzie said, Chen listened, as the Chicago White Sox surprisingly broke through and touched Cy for four runs and nine hits over 5 13 innings.

Unfortunately on the flip side, struggling Chisox starter John Danks did all he could to return the bounty right back to the Royals, slapped with 10 hits and four runs (three earned) over six-plus innings. But Danks managed to earn the win without a single strikeout (or walk) as the White Sox scored six late runs to secure the 10-5 victory and salvage a win in Sundays four-game series finale.

Early on he was pretty good, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He made some good pitches when he had to, Brent Morel threw a guy out at the plate. He wasnt perfect or good as he can be, but he made pitches when he had to and thats what good guys do.

He came through it, Guillen said. He lost it for a couple of innings. He was good, and all of a sudden he lost it and was throwing the all over the place. But he gave us the opportunity to win and keep the team out there.

As an indication of just how sluggish his stuff has gotten, Danks has just two strikeouts over his last two starts (11 innings). Although Danks did earn his seventh win of the season, September has been forgettable for the ace lefty: A 9.14 ERA, 1.98 WHIP and 28 game score over four starts.

I have no idea, Danks said with regard to his stuff in September. My last few, today included, I dont feel Ive had great stuff, I guess. Its part of the learning process, to go out there and throw strikes and compete the best you can without your best stuff. Today it worked out, and in my last few, it hasnt.

Pierzynski didnt get to wreak revenge against Chen for the cagey lefty having broken the catchers wrist with a pitch on August 12, sending Pierzynski to the DL for the first time, although he just missed a deep triple to right-center off him and later clocked a towering home run to right to provide Chicago an insurance run.

The backstop went back-to-back behind Paul Konerko, who clocked his 30th home run of the season and now has five campaigns where he has tapped out at least 30 dingers and driven in 100 runs, second in team history to Frank Thomas.

Its one of those things where theres a balance of thats your job to drive in runs and drive the ball, Konerko said. The last couple of years Im trying to switch up goals, and what is good for me is showing up for 150-plus games. If I make that goal, the byproduct will be the numbers.

A.J. had a great night and Im very excited about PK, Guillen said. He may be the only bright thing we have here this year, 30 home runs, 100-plus RBI, with really no protection in the order. Im very happy for him. I was pulling for that home run more than anything else. A lot of people think Well, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, youre still losing, but it means a lot to him and it means a lot to me seeing one of my players have success and have a great year.

Slumping slugger Adam Dunn broke out, to a degree, vs. Chen, who entered the game 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA vs. the White Sox this season. The DH had a double down the right-field line in the fourth and lined a single off of Chen in the sixth, for a 2-for-5 day. Dunn had his first extra-base hit vs. a lefthander this season and first since August 6, 2010. The RBI on the double was Dunns first since Aug. 8.

As the Royals crept within 6-4 with a run in the seventh, Chicago bit right back with a four-run rally that started with none on and two outs. The key blow was Pierzynskis second homer of the game, a three-run shot off the right field foul pole. It was A.J.s first multihomer game of the year, fourth of his career, and first since July 9, 2010 against the Royals.

The win prevented a season-high eight-game losing streak for the White Sox.

It feels good, especially with the off-day, Pierzynski said of the win. It seems like weve been grinding. Going into the off-day with a good feeling, hopefully we play well the first two games of the doubleheader there on Tuesday. Its nice to win on a travel day, and its nice to win on a football day so we can relax and watch football.

Were all competitive we have pride, Danks said. We dont have many games left, but were going to try to win all of them. Theres nothing else to do but save face and have a decent taste in our mouths going into the offseason. Were not out here going through the motions. Were trying to win more games.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's 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: