White Sox

LIVE: Morel's homer extends White Sox lead

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LIVE: Morel's homer extends White Sox lead

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011
Posted: 11:19 a.m.

Associated Press

The Kansas City Royals won't be appearing in the postseason for a 26th consecutive year, but they're giving their fan base plenty to look forward to heading into next season.

The Royals try for a 10th win in 12 games while the Chicago White Sox hope to avoid a sixth straight home defeat Saturday night.

While Kansas City, which hasn't made a playoff appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, is assured of an eighth consecutive losing season, it's surprisingly played like one of baseball's best teams of late.

The Royals (69-88) have outscored opponents 70-36 en route to taking nine of 11 - a stretch during which they are batting .323 with runners in scoring position.

"A lot of teams tend to put it in cruise control a little bit and finish out the season, and this team hasn't done that, not for one second," manager Ned Yost said. "They haven't ... they come every day ready to play.

"(They) are totally focused on finishing this year strong so they can take it into next year, and that's important. That's an important mindset to have."

Kansas City continued its late-season surge Friday with an 11-1 rout at U.S. Cellular Field. Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and Jeff Francoeur all went deep while Bruce Chen threw eight innings of one-run ball.

Hosmer is batting .500 (19 for 38) over an eight-game hitting streak. Fellow rookie Mike Moustakas, who collected a season-high four hits Friday, is batting .457 with three homers during an 11-game run of his own.

"It's been a blast these past couple weeks," Moustakas said. "We've been playing great baseball, everyone's hitting, so yeah, I guess you could say we're hitting our stride."

The Royals, who have taken four of five from Chicago during their recent hot streak, haven't fared well against John Danks (7-12, 4.36 ERA), who will pitch Saturday after helping the White Sox to their only victory during that stretch.

Danks allowed four runs and 10 hits in six innings of Sunday's 10-5 win, improving to 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his last eight outings against the Royals.

Danks, however, owns a 9.14 ERA over his last four starts overall, yielding 36 hits and seven walks in 21 2-3 innings.

Facing Melky Cabrera and Francoeur, though, could help the left-hander regroup. Cabrera is 4 for 21 (.190) lifetime against Danks while Francoeur is 1 for 9. Alex Gordon, who is 3 for 23 (.130) versus Danks, is expected to miss a second straight game with flu-like symptoms.

Taking the mound for Kansas City is rookie Everett Teaford (2-0, 2.54), who has impressed since transitioning to the starting rotation less than two weeks ago.

After throwing five scoreless innings during a 2-1 win at Seattle on Sept. 11, the left-hander limited the White Sox (76-81) to one run and four hits in six innings of last Saturday's 10-3 victory.

"I was very impressed with the way Teaford pitched, his ability to pitch his way out of jams," Yost said.

Teaford faces a White Sox team which has dropped 10 of 13, including five in a row at home while batting .200.

"Obviously it's been a very tough season for everyone," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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