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Buehrle bashed, September struggles continue

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Buehrle bashed, September struggles continue

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011
Posted: 10:21 p.m. Updated: 11:44 p.m.

Associated Press

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VIDEO: Ozzie on Buehrle's recent struggles
VIDEO: De Aza describes amazing catch

If September is the time for a player to demonstrate his qualifications, Lonnie Chisenhall is building a solid case for next season.Chisenhall hit a pair of two-run homers and the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 8-4 on Friday night.Chisenhall, Cleveland's rookie third baseman, set career highs with his two homers and four RBIs as the Indians snapped a four-game losing streak."Lonnie Chisenhall had a big day, especially considering the way he has struggled against lefties," Indians manager Manny Acta said.Ezequiel Carrera, Kosuke Fukudome, Shelley Duncan and Lou Marson had two hits apiece for the Indians. Carrera and Fukudome each drove in two runs.Jeanmar Gomez (3-2) allowed two runs and six hits over six innings and improved to 3-0 with a 0.52 ERA in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30."We have struggled as of late," Acta said. "Gomez stepped up and stopped our four-game losing streak. He threw the ball very well, with movement, good sink on his fastball."Gomez went 0-2 record with a 5.70 ERA in five outings before being sent down on July 18. The results since his return have been startling.What's been the biggest difference?"Fastball command," Acta said. "Also, he made some mechanical adjustments down there. He's gotten a little bit more velocity on his fastball."White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (11-8) had his second straight rough outing, allowing seven runs and eight hits over 5 23 innings."It was another one of those days," Buehrle said. "I know I made a bad pitch in the sixth inning, left an 0-2 curveball hanging. That was pretty much the game right there."After entering the game just 3 for 22 with two homers against lefties this season, Chisenhall homered twice against Buehrle, who has won more games than any other southpaw in baseball over the last decade except for the Yankees' CC Sabathia."He's done great things for the White Sox," Chisenhall said. "To hit a home run off him, he's a great pitcher, so I'm definitely going to remember it."Chisenhall got the Indians on the board first, launching a first-pitch drive over the picnic area in right field.The rookie third baseman went deep on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth to almost the same area in right, putting Cleveland ahead 4-2. That gave Chisenhall his first two-homer game and his first game with more than two RBIs."The more he sees (lefties), the better he's going to get," Acta said. "He's a guy that projects not to be a platoon guy."Before the game, Acta spoke of Cleveland's need for better production from its corner infield positions next season, whether it comes from within the organization or outside. Chisenhall, 22, has been one of the Indians' top prospects for a couple of seasons and may be the ready to solve half of that dilemma."He's going to get there," Acta said. "We have to think, this kid is only 22 years old. He only played three years of minor league baseball. It's going to take him some time."Chisenhall duplicated the feat of his White Sox counterpart, third baseman Brent Morel, who had his first multi-homer game in Chicago's 8-1 win on Thursday night. He's now hit three homers over his last three games, doubling his season total."Two home runs and winning is pretty fun," Chisenhall said.The Indians tacked on three more runs in the decisive five-run sixth. Carrera singled in a run, chasing Buehrle. Fukudome then singled in two runs off reliever Will Ohman, with both runs charged to Chicago's starter.Buehrle gave up seven earned runs for the second straight start after giving up four runs or fewer each of his 21 previous starts."I feel fine," Buehrle said. "I don't feel worn out. I feel like the first couple of innings, the velocity was down a little bit. I was taking time to get loose, but the last couple of innings I was throwing a little harder. I made a couple of mistakes and I made some good pitches and they were getting hits. That's baseball."In the third, Juan Pierre doubled home Gordon Beckham and scored on Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly, drawing the White Sox even at 2.Beckham had two hits and scored two runs for the White Sox, but struck out looking with two runners in scoring position to end the game, keeping the night's focus on Chisenhall, who is going to get plenty of playing time down the stretch."Chisenhall is playing," Acta said. "We're planning on playing Lonnie a lot."NOTES
The White Sox placed utility player Brent Lillibridge on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch on Thursday. Lillibridge is out for the season. ... Cleveland's Fausto Carmona (6-14) will take the hill on Saturday, looking to improve on the 10.47 ERA he's posted in three starts against Chicago this season. He'll oppose Phil Humber, who threw seven scoreless innings against Minnesota in his last start, his first after coming off the disabled list.Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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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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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