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Santos blows lead, game as Tigers sweep Sox

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Santos blows lead, game as Tigers sweep Sox

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011Posted: 4:17 p.m. Updated: 6:13 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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WATCH: Pierzynski speechless at defeatWATCH: Axelrod pleased with startWATCH: Santos discusses blown save

It took this, the 75th loss of the season and one of seeming dozens of the heartbreaking variety, for A.J. Pierzynski to lose his voice.

Im out of words, the rapscallion catcher said, after a fall-from ahead, 6-5 Chicago White Sox loss in 10 innings to the Detroit Tigers. This is one of those things you cant stop. You play a really good game and have a three-run lead in the ninth, lose it. I get up in the ninth and get a good pitch to hit, hit it real hard and goes right to the second baseman for a double play.

A.J.s play-by-play tells the story. Pinch-hitter Alex Avila drove a Sergio Santos fastball 409 feet to right-center for his first career pinch-homer, tying the game. The game appeared to be salvaged in the last ups by the White Sox, who used two walks and a stolen base to push leadoff hitter Juan Pierre to third base with one out, but Pierzynski grounded into a double play to end the inning, punctuating his disgust with helmet slams and kicks both on the field and in the dugout.

Postgame, manager Ozzie Guillen admitted for the first time that the fire definitely had gone out in his team.

Hell no, their fight left three days ago, I don't care what they say, Guillen said, launching in to an instructional about how second place money could pay for Christmas gifts for his coaches kids. The fight? No, I dont see it.

Candidly, Guillens captain, Paul Konerko, admitted that Guillen was telling the truth.

Since we got knocked back there in Detroit two weekends ago, mathematically out and realistically out are two different things, he said. Hes probably right its probably been more than three games. But thats what comes with the territory this time of year Unfortunately at this point its become a job. You hope it stays fun and you hope you get to the playoffs, but that doesnt happen for everybody.

Guillen called the loss embarrassing, as per usual not mincing words.

It's embarrassing because we should have won this, he said. You start a kid Dylan Axelrod who just came from the Independent League, and he shut Detroit down. All of sudden these big-league pitchers couldn't stop them. Look at yourself in the mirror and see how big-league you are. If players are happy the season's over, good. But every time you lose a game like that and you have a little bit of pride, you should be ashamed of yourself. Those ones hurt. I have baseball running through my blood. It's hard to watch.

Axelrod indeed pitched extremely well in his first major league start, whiffing eight over six innings.

It's a shame. This kid's pitching very well and all of a sudden we just blew it for him, Guillen lamented. A very nice day, you see this kid having success in his first time in the big leagues, and all of the sudden, poof, another bad day for the White Sox.

Axelrods teammates were similarly bummed that the postgame beer shower evaporated with one swing from Avila.

He got the ball and did his job. He shut down a team that has been on a good roll, Santos said. Kudos to him that he did his job and he pitched fantastic.

He threw great. He deserved a win. He pitched really well, Pierzynski said. He changed speeds, moved the ball in and out, up and down. He threw really well for his first big league start. It was fun to watch and nice to see he creates a good angle to make the ball sink and cut. And he throws strikes and works fast, and thats what you are looking for.

Axelrod was as upbeat as possible after the game, perhaps as much a reflection of not having been around for the first five months of misery as his strong starting debut.

It was fun, just good to get out there and make my first start, show what I can do. I just had a blast out there, he said. It's nice to get individual accolades like wins and things, but it's a team game. Unfortunately we came out on the losing end, but I was happy with what I did and just want to continue to build off that.

With Axelrods no-decision in the books and the double gut-punch of Detroits rally and the White Soxs inability to tap in a run in the bottom or the ninth, the final result was hardly in doubt.

First and third with one out in the ninth, and we cant score, Guillen said. It the way weve played all year long.

In the 10th, Victor Martinez lined a one-out double down the right-field line, with Carlos Guillen following with an RBI single up the middle to provide the eventual victory.

Detroit, apparently now playing the role of the Minnesota Twins for the Pale Hose this season, have swept through Chicago for two straight series and beaten the White Sox in nine of 14 overall. Chicagos gilded pitching staff finished the season battered by the Bengals, sporting a 6.09 ERA and coughing up 106 total earned runs vs. Detroit in 2011.

The White Sox fell to 73-75 and back into third place in the Central, using this afternoons utter deflation as a springboard to the final road trip of the season, to Kansas City and Cleveland. And if any of the Chicago 9 cant find the motivation to finish out the next couple of weeks, the jefe has a message.

Whoever doesnt want to play, make sure you let me know, Guillen said. I dont want to waste my time playing people if they dont want to play, and keep suffering and getting older and wrinkled and white hair when a player doesnt care. Im not pointing any fingers at anybody, but if anybody out there doesnt want to perform, its easy: Call Kenny, call Jerry, make sure you stay home and get at it next year like I hear all the time in the paper. Have a better year next year.

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

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.