White Sox

White Sox fall on extra-inning walk-off in Baltimore

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White Sox fall on extra-inning walk-off in Baltimore

Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
Updated 10:43 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

BALTIMORE - He's been portrayed on these pages as an awesome incarnation of Marvel comics character (as Hulque Increible) and has a twin roaming around in a State Farm commercial, but really, no one around these parts thought of Carlos Quentin as much of an actor.

But ultimately the right fielder's newfound dramatic flair on defense couldn't avoid a Chicago White Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles in a 10-inning nailbiter.

Adam Jones provided the winner on a bouncer to left, plating Nick Markakis for a 2-1 win.

"Great pitching on both sides," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. We couldn't get anything going all night long: no excitement. They pitched well, and we were chasing a few bad pitches."

"It was fun," said White Sox starter John Danks, while acknowledging the game being frustrating at times as well. "It was one of those where we felt any kind of mistake could be the ballgame."

Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen dueled Danks to a standoff, recording five Ks and giving up only five hits over seven innings. He fell short of earning the win, but did record the fourth quality start in four tries for Oriole starters on their current homestand.

Earlier, it was Quentin's dramatic flair on Felix Pie's seventh-inning line-drive-trap-called-out, fashioned with the right fielder's customary slide-tackle dive that was as significant a play in the game as Ty Wigginton's run-scoring duck snort to left to put the Orioles on the board in the first or Gordon Beckham's solo shot in the third that tied the game for Chicago.

Quentins play, a second shanked call by first-base umpire Jerry Crawford on the night, drew newly-restruck O's manager Buck Showalter out to the dance floor for some jawing, as Pie Tazmanian Devil-dusted himself at first base. Showalter show lasted so long, Guillen jogged out to third-base ump Chris Guccione, wondering why Showalter's open-mic stint was getting an extended run. The two longtime enemies glared at one another as they walked into their respective dugouts, promising a lively four-game wraparound set this weekend.

"I think Showalter was out there too long," said Guillen, acknowledging his concern that Danks stay warm. "But he was just doing his job, and I was doing mine, trying to protect my pitcher."

In the top of that frame came and went the White Sox's only true scoring chance beyond Beckham's dinger. With one out, Mark Kotsay turned extended his road-trip binge with a deep blast to right-center that turned into a standup triple (at games end Kotsay stood at a smoking 7-for-20 on the road trip with a double, two triples, a homer and five RBI). But the designated hitter ran himself into the second out when he broke for home on Alexei Ramirez's squibber down the first-base line. While first baseman Wigginton made a dandy play on the ball, the skipper was hoping for a more conservative approach.

"I wanted the ball to go through, Guillen said. "But when Kotsay saw the little roller, he took a chance. It was a fine decision either way."

"The play was for the ball to go through," Kotsay agreed. "But Wigginton made a good, barehanded play, so you just have to tip your cap."

The drama was pinned at a higher pitch from the seventh forward. White Sox Wonderboy Chris Sale started the eighth in relief of Danks-who retired for the night with seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball, chalking up five Ks in the process-but the gangly fireballer walked leadoff hitter Brian Roberts on four pitches, then allowed a jam-shot base tap up the middle to Markakis.

"Bad," was Sale's self-assessment of his major league debut. "I was hyped up and wanted to do well. I just didnt have any feel. I've just got to get more prepared for the next time and take this as a learning experience."

In spite of Sale's shaky debut, Guillen was encouraged.

"I liked what I saw," he said. "I want to see what I have. He's not scared. You're going to see him in those types of situations more often. He's here for a reason."

Tony Pena relieved Sale with two on and none out, and promptly threw a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third with none out. Wigginton was retired on a screaming liner to third, and cleanup hitter Luke Scott was intentionally walked to set up an inning-ending double play. Jones popped to third, and Pena coaxed struck out pinch-hitter Corey Patterson on a 3-2 changeup, extending the tie to the ninth.

Danks acknowledged the oddity of this Baltimore series, sandwiched in-between A.L. Central grudge matches with the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. But both starter and manager saw the Orioles as a formidable opponent, with Danks applauding the Orioles 10-hit attack (sparked by Markakis' four in five at-bats).

"They have a great lineup on paper," Danks said. "It's tough to face them. But we're hoping to win this series and get on a little roll before we get home and play the Twins and Tigers."

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.

Why Michael Kopech almost quit baseball: Revelations from the future White Sox star

Why Michael Kopech almost quit baseball: Revelations from the future White Sox star

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A failed PED test. A 50-game suspension. A fight with a former teammate. A broken pitching hand.

It all blew up like that for Michael Kopech in one calendar year.

And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

“There have been points where I wanted to quit baseball. There have been points where I wanted to stop trying,” Kopech said Thursday in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

This was the breaking point that almost ended Kopech’s career before it truly began but would eventually change his life for the better once the storms passed.

“Everything felt like it was on me at once, and it was tough because I had just gotten through the suspension, worked my butt off all offseason, came back to spring training in the best shape I had ever been in, and then broke my hand the first day of spring,” Kopech explained. “More than anything, I was frustrated and knew I wasn’t making anything better for myself and I was ready to get out of there.”

How long was he in this mode of possibly quitting baseball?

“Probably a couple weeks.”

The PED suspension in 2015 was for the stimulant Oxilofrine, which has been found in supplements which Kopech says he didn’t knowingly take.

“We do have certifications that we’re supposed to follow. We’re supposed to make sure that everything we take or put in our bodies is certified, and I probably wasn’t as safe as I should have been on that. I do take responsibility on that, and I regret it. But it’s part of the past and I did learn from it, so I can’t be too upset about it now and dwell on the past.”

The fight wasn’t only with Kopech’s teammate. It was also with his roommate.  

“It was a good friend of mine I was trying to help out. Things went south and he took a couple swings at me and I took one swing back. It just happened to not be a very good punch,” Kopech said. “I’ve accepted that I messed up. He accepted it as well. I’m open about it because it’s in the past and I’ve learned from it. But I’m not too proud to say I made a mistake. Fortunately, he’s still with the Red Sox and doing well over there. I think it didn’t alter our careers negatively, but maybe we both matured quite a bit from it and somehow, someway altered it positively. He’s still one of my good buddies.”

To say that Kopech’s dream is to make the major leagues would be limiting. He has a strong desire not only to be great but to be one of the all-time greats.

You can’t always pinpoint where a person’s ambition comes from. Kopech thinks it was from his torturous year as a nomad, out of baseball with a broken hand and a broken soul.

“Everybody talks about that itch to get back to spring training. When you have that for 12 straight months, it just grows and grows and grows,” Kopech said. “There’s going to be adversity coming your way in baseball. Learning from the adversity off the field is one of the tougher things I’ve ever had to do. Having all that come at once forced me to learn from it. I probably was a little stubborn and hard-headed at first, but taking a year off baseball, all you have time to do is think, anyway. I put myself in much better positions, became a lot more mindful about the game, and I feel like it has a lot to do with who I am today.”

Partly what changed him, and frankly might have saved him, was learning how to meditate. It’s a practice he learned from Red Sox mental performance coach Justin Su’a soon after the fateful fight with his teammate.

“It put me in a mental state that I never experienced. It’s almost like a flow state when I pitch but a lot calmer, so I got hooked on meditating and it took me away from the negativity of all that,” Kopech said. “I realized that my mind is my most powerful tool. I got addicted to this feeling that came from me being a more mindful athlete rather than just a powerful athlete or an athlete that throws 100 miles per hour. It took me away from being this guy that’s one dimensional to the outside public and made me have a lot more self value than Michael Kopech the baseball player.”

Kopech meditates before every start. Where exactly?

“For the most part, I’ll go find a closet or empty room somewhere in the stadium where I can zone out,” he said. “But even if it’s close to the clubhouse and I hear a little chatter that’s fine because the type of meditating I do focuses a little on background noise and helps my mind get to the place where I need it to get.”

It’s become such a powerful tool, he believes it gives him a distinct advantage over the hitter when he's on the mound.

“It’s tapping into this part of your mind that most people can’t dive into, and what’s funny is pitching is like cheating to me. When I pitch, the first batter I see with the stadium full of people, I’m in that state. Most people have to work their whole lives to feel that type of dopamine rush. Whatever it is actually, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know the feeling and I get it instantly when I take the mound. For me, that’s why I love the game because it makes me feel alive.”

It's a purpose and passion that has been reborn. Living proof that Kopech's mind is maybe all that matters.