White Sox

Jackson stings Detroit in White Sox debut

227074.jpg

Jackson stings Detroit in White Sox debut

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Updated: 11:58 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT Edwin Jackson takes some strange routes to domination.

His no-hitters run 149 pitches and eight walks. His most stellar season came in the hitting-happy American League.

And his debut for the first-place Chicago White Sox came in the form of a nine-hit, seven-plus inning gem against his former teammates, the Detroit Tigers.

It was this latest bout of dominant pitching that pushed the White Sox to a 4-1 win over Detroit, taking the second of three games in this key, four-game intradivisional series.

He did a great job and threw strikes, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. I didnt know he threw that hard, and his command was outstanding.

I was just attacking the strike zone, making them put the ball in play, Jackson said. When you do that, the odds are in your favor as a pitcher. And the defense worked behind me.

Jackson was uncharacteristically pinpoint with his pitches on Wednesday, finishing with just one walk and zero wild pitches. For a pitcher averaging four free passes per nine innings and who had tossed a National League-leading 13 wild pitches with the Arizona Diamondbacks, thats a sure sign that White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper has immediately spun some magic.

Unmoved? Consider that until Jacksons final batter, Miguel Cabrera, no Detroit hitter worked Jackson to a single three-ball count, much less a walk.

It was my mistake letting him go out for the last inning, Guillen said. He was sitting down for too long, 20 minutes. I came out of my game plan for no reason. It wasnt a good move on my part. He couldnt find the plate. I take the blame for that one.

Despite otherwise owning the plate and drawing countless short at-bats from the Tigers, Jackson was in trouble in each of the first four innings, allowing nine total baserunners. But the righty proved elusive, leaving eight men on base in those first four innings.

The way he worked his rhythm and tempo and everything, it was really nice to see, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. As long as he throws strikes, hes going to be fine.

Chicago struck early on offense, as Juan Pierre led off the game with a single and then had his 500th career stolen base on a 3-1 count, but it was erased by Alex Rios drawing a walk on the pitch. With two on, Paul Konerko stroked a single to left, scoring Pierre.

The rest of the Chisox runs came courtesy of the long ball. The first, extending the Chicago 9s lead to 3-0, came courtesy of a Carlos Quentin missile to left in the fourth that plated Konerko as well. After the smash, the Twitterwaves were all aflutter, claiming the crack of the bat could be heard back to Chicago and all the way out to California.

Hes not far from getting back and getting very, very dangerous as a hitter, Guillen said. A couple of balls, he just barely missed. In a couple more days hes going to go back to where he was two weeks ago.

The final score came in the sixth inning, on a Konerko rocket down the left-field line.

After Jackson struggled with his control in the eighth, walking Cabrera on four pitches, he left the virus on the mound for reliever J.J. Putz to catch. Putz walked Brennan Boesch on four pitches, and after Jhonny Peralta lined out to Rios, Brandon Inge stroked a soft single to short right that triggered a bizarre chain reaction. Andruw Jones fielded the ball but fell on his throw home, where an unadvisedly aggressive Cabrera was barreling; Joness Wiffleball toss hit the pitchers mound, then ricocheted plateward to hit Cabrera as he scored. This being baseball and not kickball, the run counted, and the shutout dissipated.

That was all for Putz, who was rescued by bullpen BFF Matt Thornton. The ace lefty quickly extinguished pinch-hitters Ryan Raburn and Jeff Frazier.

In the ninth, Bobby Jenks came on for a dominating 1-2-3 save, his 23rd in 25 tries.

Jackson may only have been away from the AL Central for five months of baseball time, but after winning six games in the final two months of last season for the playoff-chasing Tigers, hes right back in the thick of thingsand on Wednesday, it was Detroit who was in the way.

We have faith in whoevers out there, said Pierzynski, who believed pitching against Detroit provided some extra excitement for Jackson. But you bring in a guy whos been an All-Star and won big games in the American League, it definitely is a plus.

Jackson disagreed with the backstops assessment of his pitching motivation on Wednesday, but that was the only way in which the pair failed to click for this perfect debut.

I didnt take any more satisfaction beating Detroit than winning the game, period, Jackson said. This is the pennant race. The key is to win every game. My job is going out every fifth day and giving our team a chance to win.

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

James Shields wraps impressive 2018 campaign, but is it last he'll pitch in White Sox uniform?

0925-james-shields.jpg
USA TODAY

James Shields wraps impressive 2018 campaign, but is it last he'll pitch in White Sox uniform?

James Shields is unlikely to go down as one of White Sox fans’ most beloved pitchers.

It was always going to be hard to erase the memories of his first two seasons on the South Side, which saw him post a 5.99 ERA and give up 58 home runs.

But Shields, a 36-year-old veteran who doesn’t figures to have much of a place in this rebuilding franchise’s long-term plans, made a heck of an impact and did a heck of a job during this losing season, one that could end up being felt when the team does transition to contention mode.

Shields capped his 2018 season with another six innings Tuesday night. It didn’t end up his 20th quality start of the season, with him giving up four runs, but he reached the 200-inning mark for the 10th time in his 13-year major league career, as good an example as any of how reliable and how steady a veteran presence he’s been this season.

As of this writing, baseball’s 200-inning club in 2018 looked like this: Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Aaron Nola, Zack Greinke, Dallas Keuchel and Shields.

“Going into this season, I was really taking pride in being able to get to that 200 mark again,” Shields said. “It’s my 10th time I’ve done it in my career, so that was kind of looming over my head a little bit, and to be able to get that, it’s just all the hard work I’ve put in this year and I’m really really proud of that.”

The other numbers might not scream “overwhelming success” of a season, even if it was by far his best year in a White Sox uniform. Shields finished with a 4.54 ERA and 154 strikeouts. The 34 home runs he gave up are the second most in baseball. His 78 walks put him in the top five in the game in that category.

But Shields’ impact has been as much about what he’s done off the mound as what he’s done on it. He’s served as a mentor to this team of young players, one that keeps getting younger with every highly touted prospect that gets his call to the big leagues. He’s been a particularly strong influence on Lucas Giolito, with the two set up next to each other in the clubhouse all season — that is until Michael Kopech arrived and Shields requested Kopech slide in between him and Giolito, again for mentoring purposes.

That’s a valuable thing on a team that figures to stay young as this rebuilding process moves along toward planned contention.

“I think more than anything, when you see how he’s continued to pitch and work through all of the things he’s done over the course of his career, I think he’s been a big factor by example,” manager Rick Renteria said prior to Tuesday’s game. “He goes out there and shows you how to get through innings, grind through some rough outings and continue to eat up outs. I think these guys are seeing it. He’s been someone that’s shown them why he’s been around for so many years.

“I think these guys have taken on some of his personality, some of his traits. Hopefully it’s something they can cling to and continue to help each other with. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have someone that’s something like that. He’s done everything he could to help with both between the lines and being in the clubhouse.”

“I’ve done it my whole career,” Shields said of that leadership, mentorship role. “Ever since I was in Tampa, I’ve prided myself in being a leader in this clubhouse and just helping the guys out and being a good teammate. Hopefully these guys take all of the advice and the experience that I’ve had over the years and take it to heart.”

Shields’ 2018 season is over, but is his time on the South Side?

He is expected to hit the free-agent market this winter, though given how impressive he was as a reliable arm and as a team leader in 2018, perhaps the White Sox opt to bring him back. Not only do they have a recent track record of making similar additions — see Hector Santiago and Miguel Gonzalez this past offseason — but they have a need in the starting rotation, two holes to fill in Shields’ spot and that of Kopech, who will miss the 2019 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

It’s an option, if it’s something Shields and the White Sox both want to do. Certainly he’s given them reason to consider it with what he did this season.

“We’ll see where life takes me after this season’s over,” Shields said. “I’ve loved my time here, the guys are great, the coaching staff’s a great coaching staff, and the training staff, I can’t say enough about what they’ve done for me over the last three years. And just the organization itself has been an amazing organization to be a part of. So we’ll see where it goes this offseason.”

Keep it simple: How Daniel Palka has emerged as the clutch king of Chicago

Keep it simple: How Daniel Palka has emerged as the clutch king of Chicago

Daniel Palka’s been asked a lot about his approach in clutch situations, mostly because he keeps coming through in them.

Palka flexed his walk-off muscles again Tuesday night, driving in the tying and winning runs with a base hit off Cleveland Indians strikeout machine Carlos Carrasco in the bottom of the ninth and giving the White Sox an exciting win in their penultimate home game of the 2018 season.

It was just the latest in an increasingly unbelievable series of clutch hits from the guy White Sox fans have fallen in love with during this rebuilding season. He now has 10 hits, two doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs in the ninth inning this season. Heck, it wasn’t even the first time he’s walked off these Indians this season.

You might think that explaining how to come through with a game-winning hit against a major league pitcher is easier than actually doing it. But that’s the thing: Palka’s making it look easy specifically because he’s trying to keep it easy.

“I just try to keep it as simple as possible,” Palka said, a reasonable follow up to what he said after a big home run earlier this season. “What were you trying to do in that situation?” was the question lobbed his way. He hit the answer to that one out of the park, too: “I was trying to hit a home run.”

Palka’s big moments continue to fuel the conversation surrounding his place in the long-term plans of an organization with its eyes squarely set on the future. He long ago took the title of Surprise of the Year, considering he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster and yet will almost certainly finish as the team leader in home runs. He’s five ahead of his closest competition, the injured Jose Abreu, with a team-best 27 dingers and five games to play. Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson would need seven apiece over the next five contests to catch Palka.

Whether Palka’s place on those planned contenders of the future is as an everyday designated hitter or an everyday outfielder or a platoon guy or simply a left-handed power bat off the bench, he’s looking more and more like the totally unexpected success story of this rebuilding effort. Of course, there’s still a long time to go — and plenty of prospects still to develop and reach the major leagues — before any final assessments on lineups of the future can be made.

Still, it figures Rick Hahn’s front office could find a spot for a guy with such a flair for the dramatic and a knack for big hits in big moments.

And for someone who makes all that so easy.

“I think the outcome is just based on him keeping it simple,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He really doesn’t complicate it. He really does focus on the baseball and tries to get something he can handle and tries to hit it hard. It’s kind of that simple. You can’t control what happens once the ball leaves your bat, but you can control how simple you approach the at-bat. And he does that.”

White Sox fans know how they feel about Palka’s heroics. How does Palka feel about them?

“Yeah, it’s cool.”

See? Simple.

“I don’t really know what else to say about it besides I like that moment and I’m happy to be in that moment. That’s it.”