White Sox

Jackson plays punch out; Sox win home opener

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Jackson plays punch out; Sox win home opener

Thursday, April 7, 2011
Posted: 3:43 p.m. Updated: 5:45 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO After Brent Lillibridge gloved a warning-track fly ball by potential tying run Johnny Damon to end the eighth, Edwin Jacksons emphatic fist-pump on the mound put the finishing touches on an Opening Day gem, a game so dominant its immediately mentioned in the same breath as his 149-pitch no-hitter vs. these same Tampa Rays a summer ago.

Baseball is a game of inches, one pitch can ruin a whole game, Jackson said. When Damon hit that ball, initially I did think it was gone. It was a great feeling to see Lillibridge at the fence catching it for a last out. It was definitely exciting. Off the bat, I thought it was a home run.

Jackson punched out a career-high 13 batterswhich set a White Sox home opener recordin a 5-1 trampling of Tampa, which hasnt only failed to lead in a single game this season but fell to 0-6 for the first time in its history. Juan Pierre paced the Pale Hose with three hits, while Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, Lillibridge and Alexei Ramirez chipped in two apiece.

Sox Notes: Dunn still healing, feels feisty

The White Sox jumped ahead with three more early runs, two in the first off a two-run double misplayed by left fielder Sam Fuld, one in the third when Konerko tapped home Rios, who had doubled again and now stands at 7-11 career vs. Rays starter David Price.

Weve got a lot of dangerous hitters in our lineup, so its not the end of the world if you dont get the job done, said Konerko, who is hitting .360 on the season and set a White Sox record by driving home at least one run home in each of the first six games of the season.

But the story of the day was Jackson and an outing that Rays manager Joe Maddon characterized as more skillfully pitched than Jacksons no-hitter in 2010, tweeting after the game that Edwin had better command today then in his no-hitter against us last year. We weren't pressinghe was that good.

Jackson, even keel in that hell aw-shuck his way through good and bad both, could see his former managers point.

I mean, definitely this game is up there, Jackson said. Any time Im able to go out and get in an early rhythm, get outs quick and attack the strike zone, I like my odds. I have trouble in games when I get behind in the counts and have to throw strikes. There werent too many times where I had to do that today and when I did, I was able to make a quality pitch for an out.

He threw greateverything was working today, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He had all pitches going. He threw strikesthats the main thing. If he gets ahead against anyone, hes tough. I remember facing him. You didnt want him to get ahead of you because then it was, Oh boy, I got to try to hit this slider. Its as good as any slider there is. He continually got ahead of guys Once we got the lead, he got better and better as we went.

Jackson is characterized as a power pitcher but has long eschewed talk of him being all brawn and no savvy. Case in point: The fireballer doesnt count Ks.

I never really count the strikeouts, Jackson said. I really didnt know how many I had. I knew I had a lot. If you would have asked me an exact number, I probably wouldnt have been close. My main objective is get outs any way I can, either putting the ball in play or strikeouts.

Thats a blessing when youre a strikeout pitcher, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. His breaking pitches today were outstanding. He got into breaking ball counts, threw them and made those guys swing.

Pre-Velo

The fluke of schedule that had Jackson starting the home debut on Thursday, was one that the pitcher was eager to capitalize on.

Theres no jitters or anything right now, Jackson told CSNChicago.com on Wednesday. Its Opening Day at U.S. Cellular. Im sure it could be something exciting to see the crowds reaction. It would be even better to go out there and cap it off with a win.

Jackson was dominant in his home debut, setting a new career K mark (13) and retiring 20 of 21 batters to start the game (everyone except Fuld, who led off the game with a single) and allowing just four hits to the defending A.L. East champion Tampa Rays.

Jackson has proven a popular pitcher for the Pale Hose, but thats something the young righthander knows can turn at any time.

Ill only stay that way if I have a good game, Jackson laughed. Its always good if you can go out and have somewhat of a good day Opening Day, anywhere, regardless of whether its Chicago or anywhere else you play. You want to give the fans something positive to look forward to all season.

Thats just what Jackson has done, with an opener for the ages.

Its like youre opening the season all over again, Jackson said of his season opening honor. National anthem, lineups called outits like a brand-new Opening Day.

It would be easy to say that Jackson was a brand-new pitcher with his excellent work on Thursday, but as the strongest starter from the second half of 2010, hes just keeping on.

Asked about wanting to earn an A for his work on Opening Day, likening the pomp and circumstance to the first day of school, Jackson laughed in assertion.

Today, chalk Velo up for an A-plus.

Slip sliding

Perhaps the most devastating out pitch any White Sox starter has in his arsenal, with the possible exception of Mark Buehrles changeup, is Jacksons slider, which was as sharp as its ever been during Thursdays win, accounting for 12 of Velos 13 strikeouts.

I had a lot of strikeouts with the sliders, he said. I was able to mix it up a little bit in the count, keep them off-balanceyou know, put them away when I had chances to.

Interestingly, neither Jackson nor Pierzynski had any notion that the hurler would be so untouchable today.

Thats why they call it warming upthats exactly what it is, Jackson said by way of explaining why. I had some of my best games after some of my worst bullpens. I tried to go in and find a rhythm in the pen and bring it out to the game. Sometimes its not that easy. The main thing in the bullpen is get warm and ready for the first inning.

A guy can be pitching really well warming up and you still dont know how a hitter is going to react to his stuff, Pierzynski said. But the thing about Edwin is, when hes on, he can be unhittable.

Cool runnings

Jackson was pumped up before the home opener, so much so that he was walking through the White Sox dugout in short sleeves, seemingly impervious to the near-freezing temperatures.

I really wasnt cold, but I came out to see how cold it was and get used to the temperature. It really wasnt as bad as I thought.

With a gametime temp of 39 degrees and Jackson hailing from Georgia, Jackson proved he had some grit, throwing in the game with bare arms up to his elbows.

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

Extended netting makes its debut at Guaranteed Rate Field: 'Enough is enough'

Extended netting makes its debut at Guaranteed Rate Field: 'Enough is enough'

The All-Star break is over, the White Sox have completed a 10-game road trip, and the South Side is hosting Major League Baseball games again. This time, though, with a new feature.

Monday, the White Sox unveiled extended protective netting stretching from one foul pole to the other, shielding fans sitting in the stands from foul balls screaming off the bats of the best hitters in the world.

Fans getting hit with batted balls has, unfortunately, been a recurring talking point this season. Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. lined a foul ball that hit a young fan during a game in Houston. Guaranteed Rate Field has seen multiple instances of fans being hit with foul balls this season. And across the game the increased exit velocities are producing more dangerous projectiles entering the seating area.

Extending the protective netting, which Major League Baseball currently mandates needs to reach only to the end of the dugouts, seems like a no-brainer, and the White Sox acted quickly to do just that.

“It’s a great idea,” White Sox relief pitcher Evan Marshall said before Monday night’s game. “It’s a shame it wasn’t done sooner and just almost the standard across baseball, I think. Finally the players are kind of speaking out because everybody is tired of seeing people get hit.

“I get it. You can make the argument it takes away from the fan experience, the whole chance to get a foul ball. But I don’t know. Enough is enough. People are getting crushed in the stands. It happens to a little kid, it just devastates you.”

Players in the White Sox clubhouse have been vocal about the need for extended netting since the incident involving Almora and repeated their desire to see it implemented after the team announced their intent to do so last month. The issue’s not going away, either, with Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor recently speaking out after a similar occurrence involving a 3-year-old fan in Ohio.

Now the nets are up on the South Side, and again, it seems like a no-brainer of a decision.

Certainly there will be those opposed, as Marshall alluded to, though even in person, the nets don’t do much in the way of blocking views from the stands.


But any change is often enough to set off some fans. Still, White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said the reaction to the team’s move has been positive.

“The reaction we've seen so far has been really positive,” he said Monday. “People understand that the ballpark experience has changed from just a few years ago. Pitchers throw harder, balls come off bats harder, people are spending more time looking down at their phones — we're all guilty of that — or at the scoreboard. And so I think safety matters to folks.

“I think overall it's been a positive reaction. … If you look, it's light colored, it doesn't really seem to impact (the view). We've tested, we've sat in seats, and we don't think the impact will be very dramatic for most people.”

The bottom line is the safety of the fans. And though some will make the tired argument that fans should pay closer attention to the game, that’s simply an impossibility in these times — and it’s potentially meaningless, too, as White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito has brought up in the past that it’s impossible for players in the dugout to avoid these hard-hit balls, and they’re playing plenty of attention.

Just ask White Sox pitching prospect Ian Hamilton, who was hit by a batted ball while sitting in the dugout earlier this season. That ended his season, as he’ll require multiple procedures to repair the damage to his face.

“Dude, no matter how much you're paying attention to the game, if that thing's coming in 115 miles an hour with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead,” Giolito said when the netting was announced in June. “For me, being around baseball for so long, I think it's a smart move because it just keeps people safe. I hate seeing young kids get hit, having to go to the hospital. It just leaves a sick feeling in all of our stomachs. At the end of the day, I think it's the right move.”

For those autograph-seekers concerned with how the new netting might affect access to players before games, the White Sox left the door open for changes in the future. Think of the remainder of the 2019 season as a test run with the new netting, which can be tinkered with before the 2020 campaign rolls around.

“One of our approaches is: Let's see over the next two months,” Reifert said. “Fans are going to adapt, players are going to adapt. Let's see what happens, and then we can make decisions about next year moving forward.”

One interesting wrinkle is what effect the extended netting will have on the game itself. According to Reifert, the nets will effectively serve as a wall in foul territory (think of the brick walls at Wrigley Field). A batted ball that hits the net on the fly becomes an instant foul ball, which might take away a few flyouts from the left fielder. But a batted ball that bounces in fair territory and then bounces into the net is live, potentially taking away a few ground-rule doubles.

But, of course, the main takeaway here is the increased level of safety for fans attending games at Guaranteed Rate Field. White Sox fans will get the first taste of what this extended netting looks like. Don’t be surprised if it reaches every stadium in the game soon after.

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Moncada's moves help seal White Sox epic extra innings win

Moncada's moves help seal White Sox epic extra innings win

To say the 2018-19 White Sox have had an up-and-down season would be an understatement. The season has been filled with more good than bad for sure‒three All-Stars, 42 wins, one possible Rookie of the Year candidate‒but their seven-game losing streak coming out the All-Star break certainly seemed taxing.

Chicago’s Leury Garica-fueled bounce-back win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday certainly helped spirits but Saturday’s dramatic, extra-innings win at Tropicana field could be the type of win that really gets the team back on track.

It looked like the White Sox were headed for their eighth loss in nine games. They were down to their final out when catcher James McCann decided to add another chapter to his storybook season.


 

McCann took a slider from Rays relief pitcher Emilio Pagán 373-feet out to left field for the game-tying home run.

It was another huge moment in a great season from McCann, heightened by the fact that there were so few baserunners (total) in this game and that another o-fer in the scoring column would’ve marked the second shutout loss in a week for the White Sox.

Instead, McCann’s heroics extended a game in which the White Sox bullpen‒2 H, 0 ER‒was excellent in relief of Lucas Giolito, who also pitched well.

Over 6.2 innings, Giolito racked up 9 Ks while giving up 7 hits, 1 walk, 1 earned run. The lone run Giolito gave up was a high changeup that former White Sox outfielder Avisaíl García.

This game was without a doubt a pitchers' duel, so it was only fitting that the game-winning run was scored on an RBI-single by  José Abreu in which Yoan Moncada personified "Ricky's boys don't quit" on the basepaths.


Despite the lack of strong offensive production on Saturday night, the White Sox were able to grind out the win in a Giolito start, something that has been a recurring theme for the squad.

As elder statesmen Abreu hinted at, the White Sox need their key players back but wins like Saturday’s will help build confidence in the meantime.

The South Siders head into Sunday’s noon game with the Rays‒and their subsequent series with the Miami Marlins‒with their seven-game losing streak further in the rearview mirror and that is the best news we could hope for as we await the cavalry.

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