White Sox

Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place

233341.jpg

Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010Updated 11:37 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox picked a bad time to revert to their 2009 form.

Tuesday night's romp by the Minnesota Twins was, in Juan Pierre parlance, an old-fashioned butt whipping, aided by Freddy Garcia's generous, batting-practice hurling. And Wednesdays 6-1 triumph by the White Sox was an exploitation of a rare lapse in fundamentals by Minnesota, and by game's end injury added to insult as three Twins left the locker room in slings.

And Thursday? Well, Thursday was a 6-1 Chicago loss of potentially staggering proportions.

First, it was reminiscent of past Chisox seasons of fundamental futility, as the Sox packed the sacks three times in the first six innings and came away with just one run. Of seven batters to come to the plate in an attempt to drive home some of the easiest runs possible, only A.J. Pierzynski in the first, with a swinging bunt down the third-base line that was seemingly destined to swerve foul, tapped in a run.

Not that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was overly concerned, instead accenting what his club did accomplish against Twins ace Francisco Liriano.

"We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of people on base in almost every inning," Guillen said. "We had our big guys up to hit with the bases loaded and couldn't get anything done."

Second, Chicago played a sloppy game, including a run-scoring balk by White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, failure to cover second on a steal attempt, poor outfield throws and indecisive baserunning.

Guillen had an off-night as well, with overly-cautious sacrifice bunting and making the curious decision to walk Twins catcher Joe Mauer with two out in the seventh, Chicago down just 3-1, then failing to bring in southpaw Chris Sale (and not even warm up lefty ace Matt Thornton) to face lefthanded Sox killer Jason Kubel.

Floyd had blown past 120 pitches and wasn't at his sharpest even from the get-go, so it was hardly a shock when Kubel doubled Minny's runs with a three-run, opposite field bomb.

"Gavin was throwing the ball well," Guillen said, adding that he had no thought of removing Floyd from the game when he made a mound visit prior to the Kubel at-bat, but merely wanted to give his righthander a breather. "I didnt even ask him how he felt. I wanted to give him an opportunity to finish the game. He threw a bad pitch, a breaking ball right over the plate."

"I just have to throw a better pitch there," said Floyd, conceding that he didn't feel as sharp as usual in this game. "It broke pretty well, but Kubel made adjustments all game and got a good part of the bat on the ball."

While coming into the season with a rough career mark vs. Chicago, Liriano has been splendid this season against the White Sox, upping his 2010 record to 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA courtesy of one-run, four-strikeout ball.

"We were facing a good pitcher," Guillen said. "He was throwing those sliders, and we couldn't do anything against them."

"He's usually effectively wild and gets a lot of swings and misses with his slider," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "You're hoping he hangs one, because you just need one good mistake to hit."

With the game out of hand, Guillen trotted out Bobby Jenks for a rehab ninth inning in an effort to reposition him as the closer, and even that didn't work out according to plan; Jenks left the game with back spasms after recording just one out. The burly righthander is considered day-to-day and is unlikely to see action in this weekends series vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Overall, the White Sox played not to fall into second place, rather than fighting to take back sole possession of first. In spite of another flat effort against their rivals up north (Chicago is now 4-8 vs. the Twins on the season), chins were up in the clubhouse and the team is looking toward Friday for a shot at redemption.

"It's just one game," Konerko said. "Now, one game can win or lose a division, and one game can be made up in just 24 hours. No one in here is getting down.

"This is the position we want to be in, playing meaningful games in the middle of August. There's a lot of baseball to be played, and we all know that."

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

Four numbers that sum up a scorching hot month of September for the White Sox offense

Four numbers that sum up a scorching hot month of September for the White Sox offense

Even as the White Sox finish up the final stretch of their seventh consecutive losing season, the games they are playing aren’t meaningless -- Jose Abreu acknowledged as much when he said that the 2020 season “starts in September”. Key contributors in the White Sox lineup have clearly taken that to heart, as the Sox offense has been one of the best in baseball in the month of September. 

Here are four numbers* that reflect what has been a torrid stretch for the Sox offense to close the season:

*All stats as of the morning of September 21

Three

Three has been a magical number for the White Sox in September. For one, going into play Saturday, the Sox boast the top three leaders in hits for the month: Tim Anderson (32), Yoan Moncada (29) and Eloy Jimenez (28). The team as a whole is also third in baseball in total bases (319) and OPS (.832) in September -- only trailing the Astros and Yankees in both categories, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. 

Unrelated to the number three, but also worth noting, the team is leading the majors in batting average this month:

 

10

Ok, we cheated a little bit here -- 10 makes this list as a reference to Yoan Moncada’s jersey number, but in fairness, we needed a full section to highlight all Yo-Yo has done at the plate this month. He enters play Saturday as the major league leader in batting average (.444) and WAR (1.6) in September, and is currently working on a streak of five consecutive multi-hit games (he has 12 since the start of the month). 

To give even more of an idea of how scalding hot of a stretch it has been for Moncada, here is a side-by-side of his full-season slash-line on September 1 compared to September 21 (a stretch in which he has played 16 games):

  • September 1: .288/.342/.518 (.860 OPS)

  • September 21: .314/.368/.547 (.915 OPS)

Oh, and that .314 batting average? As of Saturday, that's only one point behind Michael Brantley for third in the AL. If Moncada can usurp Brantley, him and Anderson would make up two-thirds of the best three batting averages in the AL. *In best Larry David voice* Preeeeetty, pretty good.

27

“When I feel good, I don’t know, it’s just reaction. I don’t try to do too much and [I] just try to hit it on the barrel,” Eloy Jimenez said post-game last night, in reference to his grand slam against the Tigers. 

The Sox as a team are certainly employing that mentality this month, and the data reflects it. According to Baseball Savant, the White Sox lead baseball in balls batted with an exit velocity of greater-than-or-equal to 108 mph in September with 27 (the next closest team is the Yankees, with 20). Three such instances occurred in last night’s 10-1 rout in Detroit, including Moncada’s 24th home run of the season:

 

118

wRC+ is a weighted, park-controlled measure of a player’s ‘runs created’ wherein the league average is 100 and a player’s proximity to 100 determines how above or below average they register (if you’re curious, there is a great explainer of wRC+ on Fangraphs).

The White Sox have struggled in this metric for most of the season -- their wRC+ as a team is 92 (eight percent below league average), which ranks 20th in baseball. However, in September, the Sox collectively have a wRC+ of 118 -- a whopping 18 percent better than league average -- which ranks fourth in MLB for the month. It’s over a small sample size, as all of these stats are, but it remains an encouraging indicator that the offense is ending the year on a strong note. 

The offseason will officially be upon us soon enough, but if the Sox continue to rake, as they have been all month, there’s still time for a couple exciting moments and performances before the long wait for 2020.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Daniel Palka finally has a good game in the middle of his nightmare season

palka-920.jpg
USA TODAY

Daniel Palka finally has a good game in the middle of his nightmare season

In the second inning Daniel Palka solidly lined a ball up the middle that looked like a sure hit off the bat. The problem? The Tigers defense was shifted perfectly to that spot for a lineout.

MLB Statcast gave Palka’s lineout an expected batting average of .650. It seemed like just another night like the rest of them have gone for Palka in the majors in 2019.

He entered Friday with a .034 batting average (2-for-59). After hitting 27 home runs with 45 extra base hits and a .778 OPS as a rookie in 2018, Palka hasn’t been able to do much of anything in a White Sox uniform.

That lineout appeared to be another “nothing can go right” moment. However, Palka’s Friday turned around.

His next time up, he pounded a ground ball that found a hole. Statcast gave that one a 31 percent chance of getting a hit, so he broke even after getting robbed earlier. The amusing thing is that Palka’s groundball single had an exit velocity of 108.9 mph, which was the second hardest hit ball of the game.

Palka later added a bloop single in the seventh and a line drive hit in the ninth to finish with a three hit day. Palka entered the day with two hits in 23 games and got three hits in Friday alone.

Even with the 3-for-5 night, Palka’s batting average is still only .072, but he more than doubled it in one game.

Is this relevant to the future of the White Sox? Almost certainly not, but Palka showed some promise in his rookie season and has been through an absolute nightmare this season. The mental side of going through his 0-for-32 start to the season and the continued struggles since could not have been easy. For at least one night in 2019 Palka had a good game at the plate.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.