White Sox

Danks shuts out Mariners, Sox division lead grows

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Danks shuts out Mariners, Sox division lead grows

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Updated: 1:38 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SEATTLE With the competition in the division mired in quicksand and looking all-too-susceptible to dying a slow death, the Chicago White Sox are poised to use a two-week stretch of games vs. the Seattle Mariners and Oakland As to steal the 2010 AL Central flag for good.

Courtesy of a two-hit pitching by John Dankswho allowed just a dinky infield hit to Casey Kotchman in the second inning and a crisp, two-out single to center by Ichiro Suzuki in the eighthChicago cruised to a 4-0 victory ove the Ms and a 3.5-game lead on both the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.

On an odd baseball night, where 12 different teams scored seven runs or more, Danks was at his stingiest as well as his most effectively wild, with four walks and a hit Ichiro over his 7.2 innings.

He did what we expect him to do, said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Hes a guy who goes out there to give you the best effort. Even when he doesnt have his good stuff hes going to go out there and compete.

Were just trying to live up to the hype right now, said the modest Danks. We got off to a pretty slow start as a staff, and weve turned it around.

The White Sox tapped out 10 hits and four runs. Mark Kotsay broke the ice in the fourth, tapping in Alex Rios on a groundout after he walked and was doubled to third by Paul Konerko. In the fifth, Chicago struck twice courtesy of four hits and RBI from Juan Pierre and Rios. And in the ninth, Alexei Ramirez yanked a 2-1 pitch out to left for his ninth homer of the season.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ramirez made a jaw-dropping play on a grounder from Jose Lopez, the momentum from his throw taking him practically to Safeco Fields sushi station for an early postgame Ichiroll.

Alexei has a great chance to be a Gold Glove winner, Guillen said.. Every day, hes getting better and better, a lot of work. Its paying off for him. He makes the ballclub a lot better.

But for Guillen, the true defensive star of the night was 43-year-old third baseman Omar Vizquel. The veteran made four terrific plays in the field, flashing leather just as fast as he did in winning 11 Gold Gloves as a shortstop earlier in his career.

Everything is contagious, Guillen said. Omar Vizquel put on a show today at 3rd base. If one of those balls went through it could have been a different ballgame. He made all the plays. When you see that happen, the rest of the infielders are ready.

Its something Danks saw and felt as well.

Its a little easier to hold a team to two hits when the left side of the infield is doing that for us, the starter said. Theyre turning plays that probably shouldnt be made into routine plays. Its fun to watch.

Like Guillen, Danks had particular salutations for Vizquel.

I dont think anyone else could ever do what hes doing, he said. Hes been impressive. Hes also been swinging the bat. Hes been a big key to where were at right now.

The typically low-key Vizquel deflected too much praise, offering, Some people say that defense wins ballgames, and weve been playing some pretty good defense. Every time you make some good plays to shut down the other team you feel pretty good about yourself.

J.J. Putz came on in relief of Danks and induced a fly out from Chone Figgins, which was his White Sox team record 25th straight scoreless appearance. Bobby Jenks shook off the loneliness of his last outing with a scoreless ninth.

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

Eloy Jimenez has high praise for Luis Robert: 'He's going to be the next Mike Trout'

Eloy Jimenez has high praise for Luis Robert: 'He's going to be the next Mike Trout'

Last spring, Michael Kopech said Eloy Jimenez was the Babe Ruth of this generation. Jimenez returned the favor by calling Kopech this generation's Nolan Ryan.

Well, start blocking out a wing of the Hall of Fame for members of the 2020 White Sox, because we've got another comp for the ages.

Obviously, everyone's very excited to see Luis Robert hit the major leagues. Jimenez is cranking that excitement up to 11.

"Some people are going to call me crazy," he said Friday before SoxFest kicked off at McCormick Place, "but he’s going to be the next Mike Trout.

"He has five tools, and he plays hard like Mike Trout."

Well then.

Trout has long been considered the best baseball player on the planet, someone who's putting up hall of Fame numbers on an annual basis to the extent that folks wonder if he's the best to ever play.

Should Robert come anywhere close to that, White Sox fans will be quite pleased.

Certainly the praise is not entirely unwarranted, with Robert boasting a full toolbox of baseball skills. He's fresh off a 2019 campaign that saw him set the minor leagues on fire: a .328/.376/.624 slash line to go along with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, 108 runs scored, 31 doubles and 36 stolen bases. Along the way he sent highlight after highlight back to his adoring public on the South Side, clips of him blasting balls into the Charlotte sky, making eye-popping catches and using his blazing speed to great effect.

The defensive skill ought to be especially intriguing to Jimenez, who's going to play next to Robert in the White Sox outfield. But while Jimenez's defensive improvement will continue to be a big focus in 2020, so will Robert's range in center field. Jimenez has a plan, though, if Robert tries to steal away any of his fly balls.

"I’m going to draw a line," Jimenez said with a smile. "If he goes over the line, I’m going to punch him. It’s going to be like that this year."

It was just the minor leagues, of course, but those descriptions aren't terribly dissimilar from the ones frequently assigned to Trout out in Anaheim.

You likely won't hear Rick Hahn or Rick Renteria comparing Robert to the best player in the game, not wanting to put too much pressure on the 22-year-old. Jimenez knows as well as anyone how difficult the transition to the majors can be, even for the most talented athletes in the world. He set the minors ablaze in 2018, only to experience growing pains as opposing pitchers attacked him like a proven veteran.

So seeing something similar from Robert would not be surprising.

"Last year, I was a little bit anxious," Jimenez said, "and I know he’s going to be, too.

"The first year of your contract, you play on Opening Day, it’s going to be a little bit tough for him, too. It’s not going to be (tough) just for him, it’s for anybody who makes the Opening Day roster. It’s a little bit tough because it’s different pitching, it’s different stuff and the pitchers are a lot better at this level.

"He’s going to need someone. But he’s got (Jose) Abreu, he’s got (Yoan) Moncada and he’s got me. So he’s going to be good."

One of the biggest differences between Jimenez's ascent to the major leagues and Robert's is that Robert is joining a White Sox team with playoff expectations. Between the young core that broke out in such a big way last season and all the newcomers Hahn's front office brought in this winter, the White Sox look ready to vault into contention mode. Robert's arrival is a factor in those expectations, too, so while it might seem like the spotlight can be lured away by other players, Jimenez said it will be tough for Robert to adjust to the big leagues in relative obscurity.

"When you have five tools," he said, "everybody’s going to have their eyes on you."

Well put.

If he truly is the next Trout, then he'll never lose that spotlight. Though playing alongside the next Ruth and the next Ryan, a couple fellow future Hall of Famers, ought to help.

That might sound a little crazy, as Jimenez well knows. But he's sticking to that comp.

"You will see."

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Dallas Keuchel apologizes and weighs in on Astros' sign-stealing controversy

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USA Today

Dallas Keuchel apologizes and weighs in on Astros' sign-stealing controversy

Dallas Keuchel met with media ahead of this weekend's SoxFest, and was asked about the recent sign-stealing scandal that's dominated the offseason. 

Keuchel was drafted by Houston in the 7th round of the 2009 Draft, and spent the first seven seasons of his career there. While with the Astros, Keuchel was one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 3.72 FIP and a 12.2% K-BB ratio during his time there. 

He was also apart of the 2017 team that now faces intense scrutiny for their use of technology in stealing signs during the World Series. While players have not faced punishment yet for the scandal, Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended for a year without pay by MLB and then subsequently fired by the Astros. 

Keuchel signed a 3-year, $55 million contract with the White Sox back in late December.