White Sox

Ballantini: Sale's first save is a matter of trust

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Ballantini: Sale's first save is a matter of trust

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010
7:40 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

BOSTON Lost in the Paul Konerko dramatics, the Manny Ramirez braids and the Freddy Garcia cranky back was a milestone for a Chicago White Sox player destined to make a much bigger impact on the team than those three stars.

It was Chris Sale earning his first career save after hurling a scoreless ninth in Chicagos 6-4 win in Cleveland on Wednesday. The win earned a sweep of the Wahoos and crucial momentum heading into a weekend series against the similarly playoff-pushing Boston Red Sox.

Awesome, said White Sox manger Ozzie Guillen of Sales save, notched in his 10th career game. I was a little nervous and concerned because we put this kid in a spot he never had been, but we had a lot of confidence to put him in that situation. He handled it pretty good.

Earning a save in the first game he ever finished is just another benchmark passed by the lefty fireballer whos yet to suffer a setback in this, his first professional season. Not yet three months since being drafted, Sale is already arguably the most important pitcher in the White Sox organization, a versatile pitcher who projects as a starter but has proven adept in relief as well.

Theres a guy trying to hit the baseball and youre trying to get him out, regardless of whether youre throwing the first pitch of the game, the 80th pitch of the game or the last pitch of the game, Sale said after Wednesdays win. You still have to throw the ball to the mitt and get the guy out. Its all the same game, and thats the thought I try to take out there all the time.

Before Wednesdays game, Guillen forecasted brighter lights on Sale in comments addressing the anticipated return of mainstay lefthander Matt Thornton from the disabled list on Friday.

The funny thing about Thorntons DL stint is that now I know we can use Sale in any situation, he said. Before, I was kind of worried about using him in the eighth or the ninth inning because it was always Thornton. Now, if Thornton needs a day off I will be more secure and have more flexibility with Sale because I know he can get people out, too.

Sale has compiled a 0.90 ERA so far with the White Sox, with an outrageous K9 rate of 14.4. But not until Wednesday did the lifelong starter have a shot at a save. Of course, after whiffing leadoff batter Jason Donald on five fastballs, ranging from 87 to 97 mph, Sale almost lost his shot at finishing the game. The rookie walked his next two hitters, the second free pass to Michael Brantley coming on four straight pitches.

I lost the fastball for a hitter or so, Sale said. White Sox catcher Ramon Castro came out and was just like, Hey, Im not going to say anything to you, just giving you some time, lets go, lets do this. And from there on I was like, All right, lets go, lets get the save, lets get out of here, we need the sweep, we need these games. And I just went out there and threw the ball.

From the moment he first used Sale, a month ago vs. the Baltimore Orioles, Guillen has been wowed by the rookies fearlessness.

This kid has a chance to be great, Guillen said Wednesday. His presence on the mound is very positive, and thats why he has the chance to become a pretty good pitcher.

Being placed on the fast track to his managers trust is an honor not lost on the 21-year-old.

Its greatdefinitely a lot of satisfaction there, Sale said of securing a significant role in the Chicago bullpen. Its awesome, not just getting up to the majors so quick but being here for such a short amount of time but Guillen having the confidence in me to save a two-run ballgame.

Sale has also proven a quick read of his tempestuous manager, so hes not surprised to be thrown out into any relief situation with the White Sox, in spite of never having relieved before in his career.

We all know Ozzie, hes not gonna wait to do anything, Sale said. They have the trust in me and are confident to throw me out there in any situation.

And as for the fact that he could be a member of the White Soxs starting rotation as early as 2011 and thus might not get a chance for many more saves, Sale was happy that his first career save is crossed off his to-do list.

There it is, exactly, I got a save he said, laughing. One thing I dont have to worry about doing in the future.

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: Could the White Sox season start in Arizona without fans?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox season start in Arizona without fans?

When the MLB season will start is still up in the air, but could they play without fans?

Chuck Garfien is joined by Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka to discuss what that would look like, and take voicemails from fans on if they would like a baseball season with no fans at the stadiums.

(1:50) - How much things have changed since Feb. 3

(10:44) - What does baseball with no fans look like?

(16:15) - The summer heat in Arizona might be a problem

(20:12) - Fans just want baseball, and if that means no fans, then so be it

(26:40) - Is it even safe for players to be next to each other?

(30:50) - If baseball does start, that means the world would be in a better place

Listen here or below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

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USA Today

Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

The White Sox knew the first month of their 2005 schedule would be crucial because 22 of their first 28 games were against American League Central opponents.

But no one could have predicted that they’d obliterate their division en route to an unlikely 21-7 start.

After a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals in early May, the White Sox improved to 18-4 against their own division, an incredible pace that put them 4.5 games up on the Minnesota Twins, who weren’t exactly playing poorly.

But after a heavy divisional start, the schedule was about to flip wildly. Now the White Sox had to prove they could beat the rest of the American League. The next 25 games on the schedule were against non-A.L. Central opponents. In fact, other than a three-game series against the Indians in early June, 37 of their next 40 games were against non-divisional opponents.

No sweat.

Starting off in Toronto from May 6-8, the White Sox kept rolling. With Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez starting to pitch deeper into the games, manager Ozzie Guillen was able to keep red-hot Jon Garland in his comfortable spot deeper in the rotation. The White Sox won the first two games in Toronto, and while they may have had a reputation for winning one-run ballgames, the ’05 team was also capable of beating you by lighting up the scoreboard.

That’s what happened on Saturday, May 7, as Garland failed to get out of the sixth inning for the first time all season. It didn’t really matter because he had been spotted a 10-2 lead as the White Sox pounded Blue Jays starter Ted Lilly for six runs in just 1.2 innings. The home run list was long and included Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe and two from Paul Konerko, who hadn’t gone deep since Apr. 19.

But it was Scott Podsednik who stole the show, as he swiped four bases in the 10-7 win, tying a White Sox single-game record.

“He’s a true leadoff guy,” Paul Konerko told the Chicago Tribune. “There aren’t many guys in the game who get on base and can change the pace of what’s going on out there. Pitchers are throwing over to first because he’s stealing bases. Pitchers are making bad pitches because they’re worried about him.”

Both of Konerko’s home runs that day came after Podsednik successfully stole both second and third base.

This was just the latest fun way in which the White Sox beat a team that season -- and they were already 23-7 on the year.

The next day on the calendar was Sunday, May 8 and Mark Buehrle was on the mound so you knew there was a good chance the White Sox could get to St. Petersburg, Fla. in time for a late dinner.

Buehrle entered that start with a 34-game streak of pitching at least six innings and the White Sox were looking for their second eight-game winning streak of the season.

Again, it was May 8.

Here’s what Guillen’s lineup looked like:

LF Scott Podsednik
SS Juan Uribe
DH Carl Everett
1B Paul Konerko
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Jermaine Dye
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Joe Crede
2B Pedro Lopez

Anyone remember Pedro Lopez?

The White Sox-Blue Jays game from May 8, 2005 will air Monday at 4 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.