White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Stingy White Sox playoff starters

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Poetry in Pros: Stingy White Sox playoff starters

Monday, October 18, 2010
9:08 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

When Cliff Lee took the mound at Yankee Stadium on Monday night, he was carrying some weight on his shoulders, representing the best chance the Texas Rangers have of reaching the World Series for the first time in their history; tied 1-1 heading into game 3 with the series moving back to Gotham, two wins in Lees potential two starts in the series were essential to a Texas upset. Lee delivered, going eight innings and striking out 13 batters in a 8-0 Rangers win.

But its how Lee won his first two games of the playoffsand the way he started Game 3 on Mondaythat nearly made history.

Lee managed something done only 11 other times in history in his two starts against the Tampa Rays in the ALDS: Pitch at least seven innings without walking a batter. A nine-inning, no-walk effort on Monday would have put Lee in a tie for the longest such streak in major league history, with Carl Mays, who set the mark in three starts (all complete games) for the Yankees in the 1921 World Series, and Deacon Phillippe, who did exactly the same thing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903.

However, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning Lee missed high with a fastball to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on a 3-2 count, walking him and accounting for Lee's first - and only - free pass of the postseason.

Five pitchers in history have a longer streak than the one Lee carried into game 3, including Lee himself. The lefty spun 17 innings of walk-free hurling just a season ago, for the Philadelphia Phillies. Though he did eventually give up a walk to Teixeira, Lee was able to push his streak to 19.2 consecutive innings of no-walk baseball; setting a new personal high.

Tied with Lees streak of 16 innings pitched in the postseason without a walk heading into Monday's game were two Chicago White Sox heroes from 2005, Mark Buehrle and Jose Contreras.

Contreras started his streak with his win over the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and stretched through his loss in the opener of the ALCS vs. the Los Angeles Angels. In his 16-inning walk-less stretch, Contreras was 1-1 with 15 hits, five earned runs, 10 strikeouts and a 2.81 ERA.

Buehrle is a more interesting study. Hes issued just one free pass in his 30 23-inning postseason careerand it was an intentional walk, to Manny Ramirez in the third inning of Game 2 of the ALDS vs. Boston. But even counting that IBB, Buehrle still could possess the third-longest walkless streak in playoff history (adding his 2008 playoff start vs. the Rays), if not for his 13-inning relief appearance en route the save in the World Series clincher vs. Houston.

So although Buehrle has an active streak of 27 straight innings pitched in the playoffs without giving up a walk, that single relief appearance in 2005 snapped his streak of startingseven-inning efforts sans walks.

During his own 16-inning starting streak in 2005, however, Buehrle went 1-0 with a complete game, gave up 12 hits and five earned runs, with 10 Ks and a 2.81 ERA.

See the complete list of stingy postseason starters here.

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

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.