White Sox

Late-inning small ball lifts White Sox

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Late-inning small ball lifts White Sox

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Updated 11:44 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The 2009 Chicago White Sox may have folded under a 3-0 first-inning deficit, or a 5-1 second frame setback.

Not the 2010 edition, however; one that manager Ozzie Guillen molded in his name and steadfastly defends in the face of trade rumors stretching coast-to-coast.

The White Sox took seven innings, but they managed to rally all the way back to win 6-5 over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

That was a big game for us today, Guillen said. We made a huge comeback right away, twice. The offense did a lot of great things, as a team. We played very, very, very well today.

The seventh stanza, which provided the game-winning tick, was Ozzieball to a T. Leadoff hitter Juan Pierre worked a leadoff walk off of Seattle reliever Jamey Wright, stealing second to allow Alexei Ramirez to sacrifice him to third. Alex Rios followed with a run-scoring single, and just like that, the White Sox led for good.

Without a doubt, that was a big, big victory, left fielder Juan Pierre said. The way our lineup is set up, the little things become important: a bunt, a sacrifice fly.

Of course, U.S. Cellular Field was playing summer-small on this night, so naturally four of the Chisoxs first five runs came courtesy of the longball: a two-run shot by Gordon Beckham in the second and solo taps from Ramirez and Paul Konerko in the fifth.

The whole game I felt like wed come back and win, second baseman Gordon Beckham said. Weve got the ability to play small, and the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Thats a nice combination.

Early on, these were games we didnt win, said rookie reliever Sergio Santos, who recorded two Ks. Thats a cool part of the whole turnaround.

While the starting rotation has done more than its share in rallying the White Sox into first place25-9 with a 2.69 ERA and 35 quality starts in the last 44 gameson this night, it was all Mark Buehrle could do to keep his head above water.

You never want to go less than six or seven innings, but we won the game, thats what mattered, said Buehrle, who surrendered nine hits and five runs in five innings. The offense picked me up. If you get in too big a hole its hard to battle back.

Buehrle was fighting, Guillen said. Every game on the field, all my players fight hard; maybe they like me, or theyre proud. Buehrle battled, and the bullpen took care of the rest.

Indeed it was a lights-out quartetSantos, Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenkswho were the heroes, with four innings of scoreless pitching, allowing just two hits and striking out five.

The first three relievers extended scoreless streaks with their efforts: Santos has gone 10 games without surrendering an earned run, Thornton 17 straight scoreless appearances and Putz pitched a perfect eighth to extend his club-record streak of scoreless games to 27.

Perhaps most importantly, Jenks shook off his recent scuffles by striking out the side in the ninth for his 21st save. He hit 99 on the gun to strike out Russell Branyan for the second out.

All I know is if have to keep continuing to prove myself, Jenks said. I have to attack hitters, attack the zone and stay with the game plan.

You blow two games, thats going to happen, Beckham said. Jenks came back tonight and got it done. Thats what we need from him.

Guillen, who expressed surprise that there was any buzz over Jenks being displaced has his closer, praised the bullpen as well as his entire roster with his final, cheeky comment of the night.

Youre a good manager when the players execute well, he said.

Couple that with his first comment of the dayI should be happy, Im in first place. I should be the happiest man in baseballand couple it with his last, and at this point, two things are clear: The White Sox appear poised to take up seeming permanent residence in first placeand that Guillen is looking like the best skipper in the bigs.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's 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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