White Sox

Perfect night for Paulie as Sox make statement

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Perfect night for Paulie as Sox make statement

Friday, Aug. 20, 2010
Updated 12:22 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS It was an uncommonly contemplative Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen who held court for the microphones prior to Thursdays series finale vs. the Minnesota Twins.

A loss is a loss, no matter how you lost, he said. Baseball is about a clickone thing clicks for them, one thing doesnt click for us. Wednesday night when Alex Rios hit that game-ending groundout, it almost went through. Maybe two weeks ago, it would. Its not an excusethe Twins play good against usbut we didnt come here and got our butts kicked. We played good, we fought.

Zen Guillen was rewarded for his calm and faith on Thursday, as the White Sox erupted for 15 hits off of Minnesota starter Carl Pavano alone and coasted to an 11-0, 21-hit drubbing of first-place Minnesota. The rout creeps Chicago within four games of first place.

We could have dug a deeper hole here, but I feel very, very good about how the team showed up and played, Guillen said postgame. We swung the bat very well and took advantage of Pavano, one of the best pitchers in the American League this year.

It started right away, first baseman Paul Konerko said. Juan Pierre led off the game and went down 0-2 and got on.

Chicagos drubbing of the Twins ace most decidedly did not qualify as Minnesota Nice, although the White Sox were kind enough to submit 11 of their 15 hits off Pavano as singles, paced overall by Nos. 4-5 hitters Konerko (5-for-5 with a homer and a double, tying his career high for single-game hits and raising his average eight points in one night) and Mark Teahen (3-for-4 with a triple).

Besides five hits, one thing Konerko did in the game was most important for me, but the single to right scoring Rios in the seventh, Konerkos fourth hit, knocking out Pavano, wasnt greedy or selfish, Guillen said. He just tried to do his job of moving a runner over. As a coach, I like that.

I was looking to drive to right, not just to make an out, but if I made a mistake I wanted it to be to the right side, Konerko said. It was 5-0 at the time, and the way games have gone here, you can never have enough runs. But I dont have to be told to play the game the right way. I dont even give that a second thought.

As for Teahen, Guillen said of course hed be in the lineup in his return to Kansas City Friday night: I just have to figure out where. You hit, youll be in the lineup.

Pierre added three hits and reached base four times, giving him eight hits for the series and running his latest hitting streak to eight games. He had two singles in the first two innings, and stole his major league-leading 48th base in the second. Pierre was spiked on the play by shortstop Nick Punto, and while blood gushed down Pierres right arm, he was in motion toward third on a steal attempt on the very next pitch.

I looked up at the scoreboard and saw Juan hitting .270 now .277 and I was surprised, Guillen said. Thats a very nice rise, especially when we needed it most. Hes consistent, getting on base, and playing the game right.

Omar Vizquel and Alexei Ramirez also contributed three hits apiece to the Chicago assault, with Ramirez chiming in with a double and finishing up the scoring with a two-run homer in the eighth.

The White Sox were so locked in on Pavano that the righthander threw only four of 87 pitches for swinging strikes.

I couldnt put my finger on it, Konerko said of pummeling Pavano. I got a couple of good fastballs to hit, and he may have grabbed some more plate than usual on some pitches. We were aggressive. Weve been swinging the bats pretty well, and guys were still feeling good up there.

On the other hand, Mark Buehrle shackled the Twins over seven innings, allowing just five hits and one walk against four strikeouts.

I was just kind of glad I didnt give up any runs in the second inning, Buehrle joked, in reference to Minnesotas propensity to score early in the series. You get a lead, you just want to throw as many zeros as you can. You just cant give runs back up.

We needed a win, it was good to get some runs early, Konerko said. When you do that, Buehrle usually doesnt give it back.

J.J. Putz came on in the eighth and retired only two batters, struggling with his velocity and eventually leaving with a right knee injury after facing just four Twins (Putz said the injury wasnt major and is considered day-to-day). Bobby Jenks came on for a perfect ninth, re-establishing his role as White Sox closer.

While mildly scolding Putz for staying in the game too long when feeling less than 100 percent, Guillen praised Jenks for his effort on returning from a back injury.

Bobby threw the ball good today, Guillen said. I never want Bobby pitching in the sixth or seventh, I want him in the ninth. With what we saw tonight we have the confidence to get him back in his role.

Konerko is forever this White Sox teams heartbeat and barometer, and its been his quiet confidence that has helped to keep the clubhouse at a proper temperature, through good and bad. Its appropriate that his five-hit game helped spur a must-win game, yes. But to Konerko, theres much more at stake ahead.

Yeah, theres a different ring to being four back vs. six back in the standings, he said. Weve dug a hole here again, but theres still time to dig out of it. We cant be happy walking out of here losing two of three, but we have to focus on coming back and working hard tomorrow.

And while Guillen is about as pensive as his team captain is manic, the skipper is savoring the 2010 pennant race, and he shared that sentiment with his team on Thursday.

I told the guys going out to the field, Lets enjoy this moment. We could be another team, in last place, out of it. You never know when youll be fighting for the pennant ever again.

As for the Twins, Guillen said, Give me a shot against them late in the season. I predict this thing goes all the way to the wire. If we stay healthy, were going to compete. We will fight to the end. Were going to fight like a champ, till we cant anymore.

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

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.

The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:

— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.

— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.

— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).

— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.

— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)

— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).

Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

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USA TODAY

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

We heard a lot about "learning experiences" during the White Sox 100-loss 2018 season.

It was Rick Renteria's way of describing the to-be-anticipated growing pains for highly touted players spending their first full seasons in the major leagues. Fan expectations were high for the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Yoan Moncada, and by very few measures did those players — some of the first of the organization's bevy of prospects to reach the South Side — live up to those expectations.

But that doesn't mean that those players' seasons were devoid of value. Renteria, the White Sox and the players all expect these "learning experiences" to have long-term benefits. In other words, it's the struggles now that will help these players succeed and create the planned perennial contender on the South Side.

So if those "learning experiences" were so valuable, what did these guys learn?

Giolito finished his first full season in the bigs with a 6.13 ERA, leading baseball in earned runs allowed and leading the American League in walks. What did he take from what looked from the outside like a disappointing season?

"I think I learned the most from my worst starts this year, the ones where I didn’t make it out of the first, didn’t make it out of the second," Giolito said before the end of the White Sox season last month. "Just going out there not having the right mindset from the get go and allowing the game to speed up on me really quickly, there’s maybe two, three, four games where that happened. And obviously I came out of those games upset and frustrated, but now looking back on them from this perspective at the end of the season, I really learned the most from those.

"Entering every single start, I get roughly 32 of them a year, make sure that I’m prepared, I’m ready to pitch, my routine is set and I’m following it to a ‘T.’ And over the second half of the season, I started to put up better numbers, put up more competitive starts just through that process of earlier in the year grinding and grinding and not doing well. I learned a lot about myself in that process as a pitcher and as a competitor."

Certain numbers don't exactly show a drastic improvement from one half of the season to the other: Giolito's ERA prior to the All-Star break (6.18) and after it (6.04) were pretty much the same. He had a much improved August (3.86 ERA in six starts) and a rough September (9.27 ERA in five starts).

But again, the 2018 season wasn't about what the numbers look like now. It was about what those numbers will look like a year or two or three from now, when the White Sox make their transition from rebuilding to contending.

"You go out there and you don’t get the job done, you’re knocked out of the game early, looking back on it, it’s like, ‘Now I know what doesn’t work.’ And I’m able to make those adjustments and the changes to the routine and the changes to mindset and things to be able to go out there," Giolito said. "I’m not going to have my best stuff every day. Some days I might not feel right and might be battling myself a little bit. But it’s being able to make that quick adjustment, not letting the game speed up. That’s the biggest thing.

"At this level, you go out there and you’re not feeling right in the first inning, it might be three runs, four runs on the board before you even know it. And I think getting that experience, getting to pitch every fifth day for an entire season and having a ton of downs and starting to figure it out more toward the end, it’s gaining that experience and learning what works and learning what doesn’t."

Throughout the season, Renteria complimented Giolito for the pitcher's ability to move on from rough beginnings to starts and turn in a five- or six-outing despite the early trouble. Giolito did a good deal of that throughout the season, with longevity during starts rarely being an issue, even if the run totals were high. Only six of his 32 starts in 2018 were shorter than five innings, and the percentage of his starts that lasted six and seven innings increased from the first half of the season to the second.

And then there are the walks, and there was a significant decrease in the amount of guys Giolito was putting on base between the first and second halves of the season. He walked 60 batters in 103.1 innings in the first half for a BB/9 of 5.2, compared to 30 batters in 70 innings in the second half for a BB/9 of 3.9.

So there were positives for Giolito to take from his 2018 campaign.

"The second half of the season, bouncing back from what I was doing. Cutting down on the walks, starting to pitch better, pitch more consistently. Even games when I wasn’t sharp, I was getting hit around, not doing so well, I did a better job of at least giving the team a chance, getting a little bit deeper into the game," he said. "So I’d say those are some of the highlights, learning from the mistakes and learning from the failures and within the season being able to make the right adjustments to be more successful."

On Opening Day, Giolito talked about how different a pitcher he was more than a year after joining the White Sox organization. One full season in the big leagues, and Giolito is again a different pitcher. It's that continuing evolution that the White Sox hope will make him a mainstay in their rotation of the future.

"More experience, more mature. I’m no longer really fazed by the big situation. If I get into trouble in the first inning, I’m not worrying about it or thinking about it or how I screwed up the last at-bat, last pitch, I walked a guy, gave up a double, whatever it might be. Now, what’s in the past is in the past, even when I’m out there," he said. "If I mess up a couple pitches, I know the adjustment to make and I’m going to do my best to make that adjustment without it taking a couple innings or even never making the adjustment the entire start, which is what was happening through April, May, June.

"Just getting that experience and learning to make those adjustments on the fly. I’d say that’s what I’m really taking away from this year."