White Sox

Sox drawer: White Sox feel confident despite second loss to Cubs

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Sox drawer: White Sox feel confident despite second loss to Cubs

Most baseball players will never admit that they follow the standings or read the out-of-town scoreboard during games this early in the season.

But Tuesday night with his team trailing the Cubs 2-1, there was at least one member of the White Sox who was watching his game and the one being played simultaneously in Cleveland.

It was the same guy who saw Robin Ventura come out of the dugout in the eighth inning, seemingly to pull him from the game, and shouted back at his manager, "NO!"

Ventura was merely checking on the ankle of his pitcher. He had just taken a screaming ground ball off of it.

Jake Peavy was fine. He stayed in the game. And after holding the Cubs to two runs over nine innings, he sat helplessly in the dugout, hoping the Sox would mount a comeback. The same kind of rally he had noticed the Reds had just completed against the Indians in the top of the ninth.

It didn't happen.

And after taking questions from the media at his locker, Peavy had his own question for us. It was about the Indians.

"Did they end up winning or losing?"

They won. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth.

Peavy tossed his head back, rolled his eyes, and did the math. The Indians grabbed a half-game lead in the division. It's the first time the White Sox haven't been in first place since May 28.

Considering the White Sox had been in first and the Cubs are buried in last, losing two straight to the North Siders did not sit well in Peavy's stomach.

"I don't mean any disrespect, but a team playing the way the Cubs have been playing, we've got to beat those teams," Peavy said. "Again, please, don't take that out of context because the Cubs are a big-league team and you gotta show up every night, anybody can beat anybody. But teams that we feel like we should beat that aren't playing that well, we gotta show up and take advantage of these opportunities."

The White Sox had their chances. They drew seven walks, but the big hits never came.

And the White Sox can feel the footsteps of that other team in the distance. The Tigers are now just two games out.

"Detroit is coming, and we know Cleveland isn't going anywhere," Peavy said. "I don't think by any means this team has lost any confidence. We've showed we can play with anybody on any given day. The bottom line is we've been a little too streaky. We've been real good for a little while then not so good."

Kenny Williams is known to be one of the most active general managers around the trade deadline. He has hinted that if attendance doesn't pick up, he might not get the go-ahead to make moves and take on additional salary.

But remember this: Jerry Reinsdorf wants to win. If it's the end of July and the White Sox are in it (few thought they would be), Reinsdorf could give Williams the green light.

"You can always get better," Peavy said. "I love the team that we do have, but if Kenny and Jerry and those guys see fit, you'd always take an added player. That's something that we'd all welcome. At the same time, if that doesn't happen, we think we have enough here to beat the other teams in our division."

The White Sox need better production at third base, the back-end of the rotation, and in the bullpen.

What do the Tigers need?

According to manager Jim Leyland, they need dirtbags.

"They know how to win games," Leyland told reporters Tuesday. "That type of guy can hit .240 and be just as important as a guy that's hitting .310 because he got the guy over (to third base) on a consistent basis, he got the squeeze down, he broke up a double play, he tagged up from first on a long fly to left-center. Those are the dirtbags I'm talking about."

Leyland wants players with a mean streak. After losing five series in a row, the latest coming at home to a Cubs team with the second worst record in the majors, the White Sox have plenty to be angry about.

So get mad. Get even if you have to. And then, get going.

Because it's way too early to be talking about the Bears.

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.

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.