White Sox

Buerhle flirts with no-no but Sox fall in extras

442864.jpg

Buerhle flirts with no-no but Sox fall in extras

Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 9:52 p.m. Updated: 11:56 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGOWhile evidence abounds that Chicago White Sox closer Matt Thornton shouldnt take the fall for Mondays 2-1 loss to the Oakland As in 10 innings, those scarlet lettersBSreside aside the flamethrowing lefthanders name in the box score. To Thornton, theyre deserved.

Watch: Thornton takes the blame

The first batter in the ninth, Andy LaRoche, I made three good pitches on and then made a bulls--- fourth pitch, and he drove it for a double, Thornton said. I dont care what happens after thatyou cant do that to the leadoff guy in a one-run game. Ive got to bury that slider. I left it in the zone, and he was able to do what he did with it.

LaRoche drove a double into the left-center gap, and Thornton coaxed a lineout to first from Coco Crispand then disaster struck. Daric Barton lofted a towering butterfly ball that danced on left fielder Juan Pierre, glancing off his glove at the warning track and falling for a run-tying error. It was the second time on this homestand that a flyball error by Pierre led to a blown save for Thornton.

Watch: Ozzie on Juan Pierre's error

It was a tough ball for Juan, very tough, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The wind was blowing very hard. He went all the way to the wall. Its not an easy play as people think it was.

Juan Pierre is a great player, Thornton said. Hes made two mistakes behind me. Ill never say anything about that guyI want every fly ball I get to go to him. Hes dedicated to this game more than anyone in all of baseball. So Ill never say anything bad about anything going on behind me, anyone on my defense. Theyre great players. Ive got Gold Glove winners, All-Stars. Everybodys trying to win the game. We have one common goal, to win.

Pierre, as Thornton said as dedicated a player as there is in the sport, wasnt buying any excuses made on his behalf.

Watch: Pierre says he's cost the Sox two games

I missed the ball, Pierre said. I appreciate Guillen saying it was windy. I just flat-out missed it. Ive basically cost us two games on the schedule so far. I can handle the booing, but when you got a guy like Thornton out there closing for the first time, busting his butt, and you play that way behind him, I feel worse for him, as well as the team. It happens. I dont know what else you can say.

Of course, the error led to just one run and Thorntons exit from the game. Jesse Crain came on to retire Conor Jackson and Josh Willingham, but after a feeble bottom of the ninth by the White Sox, Oakland struck for the winning run, a line-shot homer off the bat of Kurt Suzuki.

While Mark Buehrle held the As hitless for six innings in pursuit of another legendary outing, the White Sox piled up five hits and seven total baserunners vs. Oakland starter Dallas Braden over his six innings. Chicago had just one run to show for itBrent Lillibridges first home run of the seasona blast to left-center that became the 10,000th home run in team history.

Watch: Lillibridge on making history

But unfortunately, such highlights were lost in the murk of another blown game. Thankfully, the principals are keeping a stiff upper lip and are ready to roll out the bag of balls again tomorrow.

As long as he sees Im not losing confidence in myself, none of our coaching staff is going to lose confidence in me, Thornton said. Im going to continue to be the same person Ive always been and keep on going after hitters same way. The results arent bouncing my way right now, but Im a strong enough person to keep on bouncing back and keep on having fun in the game, keep on giving it everything Ive got.

We will fight back, Guillen said. The last Thornton blown save, on Friday before was kind of a punch in the stomach being up by three. This one we were up by one run, and anything can happen late in the game when up by one.

Buehrle spins another gem

The heartbreaking turn of events erased an absolute gem spun by White Sox starter Buehrle, who turned in eight innings of two-hit ball, leaving with a chance to earned his second win of the season.

Buehrle no matter what, hes going to be the same guy, Guillen said. Hes going to let them put the ball in play.

He was throwing the ball very good, mixing pitches very well, said catcher Ramon Castro. We had a good rhythm from the beginning of the game.

Even Buehrle, ever modest, knew he had his mojo working against the As, traditionally one of his toughest foes.

Watch: Buehrle feeling good from the get-go
It was one of those games where everything was working, Buehrle said. Castro called a good game, just mixing it up. I threw a lot of fastballs in, offspeed pitches were working. Theres 33 starts: 11 of them youre going to have good stuff, 11 are going be so-so and 11 are going to be bad. And today was one of the good ones.

It was the 21st-ever battle between pitchers who had hurled perfect games in their careers, and Buehrle outlasted Oakland As ace Braden in their respective no-hit bids.

Bradens second attempt at perfection ended when Paul Konerko walked to lead off the second inning, and his no-hit bid was squashed when Alex Rios tapped out a safety with one out in the fourth.

Buerhle had a perfect game going through one out in the fourth (walking Barton) and saw his no-hitter dissipate in the sixth, when Suzuki singled to left leading off the inning. Ironically, just one pitch earlier Suzuki had sidestepped an out when Gordon Beckham couldnt hold onto his foul pop.

Tonight marked the ninth time that Buehrle had started a game with at least five innings of no-hit ball. The veteran lefthander had been the White Soxs poorest starter through two runs of the rotation, sporting a subpar average game score of 35 (an average game score is 50). Tonight, he tossed an 80, marking the third start in four games where White Sox arms have crafted a weighty 80-plus game score. Buehrle's .596 win probability added (WPA) was the 10th-highest for a White Sox pitcher since 2000. Buehrle left after eight shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and one walk against one K.

Guillen was catching criticism postgame for not running Buehrle out for the ninth, in pursuit of a complete game. But in his mind, there was no way he was letting his veteran lefthander out of the dugout for the final frame.

One thing I said in spring training Ive said over and over: We have to take care of Buehrle, Guillen said. He did his job, he had 99 pitches. Our bullpen, they are getting paid pretty good. I have confidence in the bullpen. Im going to use those guys the best way I can and the most I can. Our bullpen, we have guys with good arms and they can pitch.

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

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

1017_dan_pasqua.jpg
GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

1017_manny_machado.jpg
USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.