White Sox

Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie

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Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010
11:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO Last night, a muted Juan Pierre described the Chicago White Soxs abominable series-opening loss to the Minnesota Twins as an old-fashioned butt-whipping.

The unassuming speedster then speculated about what was needed in the second game of the series, the first tilt where the White Sox would be looking up at first place in a month.

It doesnt have to be a punch in the mouth runaway win, Pierre said. I dont care if its 1-0. We just gotta get em.

Well, in spite of Savoir Pierres admirable gentility, the White Sox did jump up and punch Minny in the mouth on Wednesday, regaining a share of first place with a 6-1 triumph.

Postgame Wednesday, Pierre had a big smile when reminded that he wasn't asking for a smashmouth win a day earlier: Yeah, but I guess we got one anyway.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, like the veteran Pierre, knows to keep the season in perspective, but was nonetheless relieved with the win.

I didnt want to wake up tomorrow and have to see all the people in Chicago panicking, he said. If you lose the first two of a three-game series, you lose the series. Now, tomorrow, we can fight to win the series.

Carlos Quentin led the romp with a two-run blast to straightaway center in the second and the White Sox pushed across six runs over the first five frames before the Twins countered with a tally of their own.

John Danks proved to be a Twinkie stomper, pitching eight innings of one-run, six-hit, seven-strikeout ball, and stranding six of Minnys finest. He eluded trouble all evening, most spectacularly by allowing leadoff doubles in two of the first four innings yet allowing no Twin to cross home.

What a great performance, great timing, Guillen said of Dankss work. Our coaching staff begged him to go seven, eight innings.

Our coaches are always begging us to go that far, said Danks postgame, with a laugh. There was no added pressure. Going deep in the game was in the back of my mind, but thats the case all of the time.

While Danks was frank in saying he hates to pitch against the Twins, dont tell that to the guys down the hall.

Danks gets off the hook by himself, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. You dont get many opportunities, and when you get them, you have to make a swing on the ball. He just ate us up tonight.

A moment of controversy in this combustible rivalry came in the fifth, when Twins starter Glen Perkins hit Quentin with a pitch for the second time since his dinger. While neither HBP did so much as blush the skin of Hulque Incredible, that quickly became beside the point as home plate umpire Mike DiMuro warned both benches, making retribution moot.

Guillen argued with vociferous logic that his Chicago-9 did nothing to merit such a knuckle rap, as Gardenhire listened in with bemused contentment over another advantage his Twins gained simply by showing up and grinding.

Everything points to Perkins hitting Quentin on purpose, Guillen said. I know 100 percent it didnt come from Gardy. But they kicked our butts yesterday and we didnt come close to beaning any of their hitters.

The first HBP was a 2-2 slider. The second one, I didnt want to leave it out over the plate where Quentin could hit it, Perkins said. It was a bad situation to hit a guy. Its unfortunate that happened. I was trying to make a pitch and yanked it a little bit.

Guillen, with a couple of rather infamous exceptions, refuses to retaliate for his own hit batsmen. And his pitching staff by and large echoes such strategic thinking.

Theres some point to playing out for revenge, said reliever Sergio Santos, who pitched a scoreless ninth. But the best revenge is playing in October.

Another surprise to come out of the game was just how uncharacteristically sloppy the Twins were, committing two errors and going just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

We made a lot of mistakes out there and cost us a lot of runs, Gardenhire said. We shot ourselves in the foot today and didnt perform very well.

They made mistakes, and we made em pay, said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.

Danks, who felt he had some of the nastiest stuff hes had all season even if his command wasnt at its peak, also admitted there was something a little extra attached to this game.

I had a little more adrenaline tonight, he said. We didnt want to dig ourselves too big a hole. We didnt like how the game went last night, but weve had a pretty short memory on this team, and we proved that tonight.

Some games, you just want to get them over with, for sure, Santos said in reference to Tuesdays blowout. But thats when you want a new day to go out and put your best game together. Thats what we did tonight.

Now on to a marquee pitching matchup of Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano in the series finale on Thursday, and reclaiming sole possession of first.

This game means that at worst, were a game back at series end, Beckham said. But were thinking about finishing things up in first.

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

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.