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.

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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