White Sox

White Sox keep momentum, win ninth straight

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White Sox keep momentum, win ninth straight

Friday, July 16, 2010
Updated: 12:17 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS The Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 8-7 on Thursday in what started out as a marathon but ended up an 8-7 barnburner.

The White Sox have now won nine straight and 15 of 16, 22 of 26, and 26 of 31 games in what has grown from the hottest streak in the majors to one of the most unconscious stretches of winning in team history. Chicago is now a game up on the idle Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central and 4.5 ahead of third-place Minnesota.

Chicago jumped out to four runs in the first two innings, paced by exquisite hit-and-run managing by Ozzie Guillen and two Alex Rios sacrifice flies.

But in the bottom of the second, Chisox starter John Danks got into major trouble, surrendering six hits leading to six runs and giving away a lead in what looked to be a runaway game. But to the surprise of no one on the visitors bench, the White Sox indeed chipped their way back, with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth to take the lead for good.

Thats not the way I wanted to go about it, Danks said. But I looked at is as one bad inning. And when the team is playing the way it is right now, no lead on us is safe.

In a game with its fair share of big hits, it was a baserunning decision by Gordon Beckham that ended up providing the deciding run. With one out in the fifth, Juan Pierre struck a double-play ball to second baseman Orlando Hudson, but his counterpart froze on the basepath to force Hudson to get the sure out at first. Beckham beat first baseman Michael Cuddyers throw to second, which allowed A.J. Pierzynski to score what would end up as the deciding run.

Look at the way the game went, Beckham said. That play is what ended up providing the game-winner. When youre playing winning baseball, youre doing the little things and making the extra effort.

Thats the way Ozzie has been steering us all season, said Matt Thornton, who came on with two outs in the seventh with Hudson on third to strike out Jason Kubel. Hit-and-runs, bullpen management, the little thingseven when hes missing, its not by much.

Pierzynski admitted the White Sox played a typical Twins gamecatch the ball, throw strikes, and was enlivened by the raucous atmosphere of the opener pitting bitter rivals against one another.

That was fun, he said. It was a good game. Both teams had big hits and were playing good baseball.

Bobby Jenks came on in the eighth for a rare save of more than three outs. With the bases full, the Chisox closer-on in relief of Sergio Santos-struck out Hudson. Not content to add a couple of grey hairs to the goatee with that cliffhanging effort, Jenks surrendered a leadoff double to Joe Mauer in the ninth and the catcher scored after Delmon Young singled with two outs.

Jim Thome stepped to the plate as the potential winning run, and Bad Bobby Kd the former Sox slugger for the win. It was the 11th save of more than three outs in 11 tries for Jenks in his career, and his first of the season.

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: