White Sox

Bottom of order propels White Sox to Seattle sweep

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Bottom of order propels White Sox to Seattle sweep

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Updated: 11:23 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

From day one, the Chicago White Sox have been a team-first outfit, preaching the importance of player one through player 25 on the roster. But the club is starting to spread the wealth so thin it may stitch a hammer and sickle on its jersey sleeves.

In an eventual 9-5 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday-Chicagos 11th straight home win and ninth in 10 tries vs. the Ms-it was the pesky bottom of the order that pulled the White Sox back into the game. Alexei Ramirez, Ramon Castro and Gordon Beckham loaded the bases to start the third inning and all eventually scored to give the Chisox a lead they would not relinquish. Castro and Beckham combined to go 5-for-7 with five runs scored.

Now we play a different ballgame, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, contrasting his current club from those of the recent past. Were pushing guys to run the bases and be aggressive.

Castro, in particular had a remarkable game, with a double in the third and solo blasts in the fourth and sixth. While to this point hes been Freddy Garcias designated catcher, Castro will be seeing increased playing time, as at age 34 hes having a career year just as incumbent backstop A.J. Pierzynski is slumping.

Castro is making it harder for me, Guillen said. I may give A.J. another day off. Castro takes care of himself. Hes always had good potential. We should take advantage of what hes doing right now.

As soon as I hit the homers, I knew they were gone, Castro said, recounting with exacting detail his prior two-homer game (off Jason Marquis on April 14, 2002). Hopefully, Ill hit two homers again.

Garcia got down early, Ichiro Suzuki menacing him for doubles and runs in the first and third to put Seattle up, 2-0. But the veteran hung in for six innings, scattering seven hits and striking out three en route to his 10th win of the season.

I got off to a hard start, but I put in my six innings, Garcia said with typical economy. A lot of people are surprised I have 10 wins, but I said from the start I would try to win 15 games, at least. I know how to pitch and get guys out.

There was little surprise or doubt in the Chicago dugout that the team would rally for another come-from-behind victory, its 27th of the season.

Were believing that we can win every game, no matter who were playing, designated hitter Paul Konerko said. We just had a tough road trip, and its good to see us starting right back up winning and not worrying that the party is over.

Were always battling back, said Beckham, who doubled to left and singled to right for his two hits on the night, which he noted as a sure sign hes swinging the bat well. Guys who are supposed to hit are doing it, and the guys who are supposed to get on base are doing it.

If there was one bummer in the win, it was the snapping of J.J. Putzs team-record scoreless appearance streak of 27 in the seventh. Putz surrendered two runs, the first tallies hes allowed since May 7.

I dont know what wed do without him, Guillen said of Putz, acknowledging he could say the same of virtually his entire bullpen.

As if to extend the party, Konerko and Carlos Quentin smashed towering blasts in the seventh to get those runs right back and provide the final markers in the game.

No matter how we score some of our runs, home runs will always come in this park, Guillen said.

I was just trying to scrape by tonight, Konerko said. But I didnt panic.

It seems that these days, the 1-25 deep White Sox are doing a lot more sharing than panicking.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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White Sox Talk Podcast

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A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

Hitting has not been the biggest problem for the White Sox. But even after a win to kick off this week's series against the Baltimore Orioles, they're still under .500 and in fourth place in the aggressively weak AL Central.

There's a ton of baseball left, and their spot in the standings on April 22 indicates nothing about where they'll be at the end of September. But the issues that have cropped up in the early going — many of them having to do with what's gone on on the pitcher's mound — have signaled that another losing season in the thick of the ongoing rebuilding process wouldn't come as a great shock.

That point being established, there's still been more to smile about in the early going this season than there was perhaps in the entirety of the 2018 campaign, what Rick Hahn described from the beginning as "the toughest part of the rebuild." That turned out to be prescient, with the White Sox losing 100 games. This year, the early season emergence of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and, to a lesser extent, Eloy Jimenez have made it so there are exciting reasons to pay attention to what's going on on the South Side, all the while making for a lineup that can push across a good deal of runs.

Now imagine if Jose Abreu wasn't hitting below the Mendoza Line.

He's not anymore after a big night Monday, but the guy who's arguably still the team's best hitter when everything's right hasn't been right very often so far in 2019. That could be starting to change, though, and if it does, a lineup that's already a heck of a lot more threatening to opposing pitchers than it was at any point in 2018 could become even more fearsome, even more productive. And that leads to more wins, important not just for fans hoping for a surprise run at relevancy given the weak state of the division, but for a team building a lineup for the future that it hopes is scoring a whole bunch of runs in meaningful games in seasons to come.

Abreu went 3-for-5 in Monday night's 12-2 laugher in Baltimore, the White Sox bats looking even better with an opportunity to feast on Orioles pitching, which entered as the worst staff in the majors with a 6.21 ERA and owned a 6.37 ERA after Monday's blowout. But it's a three-game hitting streak for a guy whose average was down to .174 after Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. Since, he's 6-for-15 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Maybe it's just a nice three-game stretch, boosted by a chance to swing against the big leagues' worst pitching staff. But it allows the White Sox to dream about a lineup made ever more dangerous by the regular production of a two-time All Star and one of the AL's reigning Silver Sluggers.

Again, offense has not been the main reason the White Sox are still underwater, from a win-loss perspective, at this point. They aren't exactly blowing the doors off the league when it comes to their offensive prowess, middle of the pack in baseball with 106 runs scored this season. But they entered Monday's game with a 5.44 team ERA, one of the four worst marks in the bigs. The bullpen's ERAs are still on their way down after short outings from the starting staff in the season's first couple of weeks forced them into unenviable situations. One run allowed in Monday's bullpen day should help with that. The team ERA shot down to 5.27 after Monday's game, still not enough to vault them out of the bottom six teams in the league.

But reliable versions of Anderson (who's still hitting over .400), Moncada and Jimenez are pieces this lineup didn't have last year, and they've been three of the best parts of it so far in 2019. Leury Garcia has been quietly productive if not flashy while doing it. James McCann, who hit a three-run homer to start the scoring in Monday night's rout, has put up good numbers in limited time while splitting catching duties with Welington Castillo. Even Ryan Cordell, only the team's starting right fielder for a few days, has shown promise with a couple homers already. There have been holes, of course, chiefly Yolmer Sanchez — who was still hitting under .100 on April 13 but is now batting .231 after a three-hit night Monday — and the sent-down Daniel Palka. Abreu and Yonder Alonso, in the middle of the White Sox order, have been unproductive, as well, while the younger guys have flourished around them.

But an Abreu turnaround — or, really, an awakening, considering how early it still is — would boost the numbers and make the lineup capable of even more on a regular basis.

It could also be another factor in the ongoing conversation about a potential Abreu contract extension. While Hahn has suggested it's unlikely that such a deal would be struck during the season, it wouldn't be surprising to see it come before Abreu is set to hit free agency once the 2019-20 offseason begins. The White Sox are such big fans of what Abreu does in the clubhouse and as a mentor for younger players that production might not play as big a role as it normally would. But obviously the consistency of that production in Abreu's first five big league seasons certainly helps. To keep that production going with a late-April awakening would be all the more reason to keep Abreu around for the transition from rebuilding to contending.

The White Sox lineup has been promising to this point. It could become downright potent if Abreu starts knocking the ball around as we all know he can.

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