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Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

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Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

Sunday, Sept. 11Posted: 5:13 p.m. Updated: 6:10 p.m.

Associated Press

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Luis Valbuena had a a big zero in the home-run column, and it was bothering him.He can rest easy now.Valbuena connected for a solo shot and Ubaldo Jimenez threw six effective innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.Valbuena also singled twice and scored two runs as the Indians collected 14 hits. Trevor Crowe had three singles, and Jason Donald and Lonnie Chisenhall added two hits apiece."I feel good because I was working all day in the cage and made an adjustment," Valbuena said.Valbuena drove an 0-2 pitch from Will Ohman over the wall in right in the sixth, making it 4-2 Tribe. It was Valbuena's first extra-base hit and RBI this season. He entered the game just 5 for 34 on the season at the big league level despite hitting .302 in 113 games for Triple-A Columbus."He's tough to read because he's never looked overmatched, but the numbers don't add up," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was our best hitter in Triple-A the whole year. ... Today he had a very good day. I'm happy for Luis because he's had enough hard times up here the last two years."Valbuena especially enjoyed his first major league homer since April 16, 2010."I'm so happy because I don't want to see the zero there," Valbuena said.Crowe entered the game hitless in seven at-bats. After starting 106 games in the outfield for Cleveland in 2010, Crowe had shoulder surgery on March 30 and was activated on Wednesday."It was good to see him do that," Acta said. "He spent the whole season basically in Arizona rehabbing. ... It's nice to see him have some success so he'll have some confidence going forward."Despite the slow start since his return, Crowe felt he was about to break through."I felt like for the amount of time off, I was seeing the ball really well and it was only a matter of time before I started making some solid contact," Crowe said.Jimenez (3-2) issued five walks, but allowed just two runs and three hits. The right-hander, who was acquired from Colorado before the July 31 trade deadline, struck out two and improved to 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA over his last four outings."I felt good out there," Jimenez said. "I only had a couple of innings (when) I couldn't find the strike zone. I think I was trying to throw too many breaking balls and couldn't control them."While his command was shaky, Jimenez reached the upper 90s with his fastball, important for a pitcher who has struggled with inconsistent velocity this season."When I got to the fifth inning, I (thought the fastball) was my best pitch today," Jimenez said.White Sox starter Zach Stewart (2-4) yielded three runs and seven hits over five innings in his first outing since he tossed a one-hitter at Minnesota last Monday."I wasn't hitting spots like I was last outing, like I should have been," Stewart said. "I missed some spots. Some of my breaking balls weren't as sharp, I left them over the plate and got hit around a little bit."Alejandro De Aza went 2 for 3, scored two runs and stole two bases for Chicago. Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez each singled twice and drove in a run.Jimenez walked the bases full in the fourth, the last of the free passes issued to Brent Morel, who has drawn seven of his 14 walks this season since Sept. 1. Jimenez got Gordon Beckham on a grounder to third to escape the threat.The White Sox also left the bases full four times on Saturday."Well, you know we continue to leave people on base," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Jimenez throw 100 pitches. I never see a guy throw 100 pitches and only (allow) two runs."The Indians broke it open with three runs in the eighth against Matt Thornton. Donald drove in a run with an infield hit and Carlos Santana lashed a two-run double to right.The Indians earned a split in the four-game series between teams chasing Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers won their ninth in a row Sunday and lead Chicago by 10 12 games and Cleveland by 11."We played right into the Tigers' hands basically," Acta said. "That what we did this series, kill each other while they continue to win."NOTES: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy will not pitch again this season. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will rest in an effort to come back at full strength in 2012. Peavy had shoulder surgery last season. Rookie Dylan Axelrod will start in Peavy's place on Wednesday. ... The Indians activated DH Travis Hafner (strained right foot) from the disabled list. Acta said Hafner will split time at DH with Jim Thome for the remainder of the season. ... The White Sox will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they open a three-game series against Detroit at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday. Rick Porcello will face Chicago's John Danks in the opener. ... The Indians' 10-game trip continues with a stop in Texas on Monday for the opener of a three-game set. Justin Masterson will start for Cleveland against Matt Harrison.Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materialmay not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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White Sox Talk Podcast

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A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

Hitting has not been the biggest problem for the White Sox. But even after a win to kick off this week's series against the Baltimore Orioles, they're still under .500 and in fourth place in the aggressively weak AL Central.

There's a ton of baseball left, and their spot in the standings on April 22 indicates nothing about where they'll be at the end of September. But the issues that have cropped up in the early going — many of them having to do with what's gone on on the pitcher's mound — have signaled that another losing season in the thick of the ongoing rebuilding process wouldn't come as a great shock.

That point being established, there's still been more to smile about in the early going this season than there was perhaps in the entirety of the 2018 campaign, what Rick Hahn described from the beginning as "the toughest part of the rebuild." That turned out to be prescient, with the White Sox losing 100 games. This year, the early season emergence of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and, to a lesser extent, Eloy Jimenez have made it so there are exciting reasons to pay attention to what's going on on the South Side, all the while making for a lineup that can push across a good deal of runs.

Now imagine if Jose Abreu wasn't hitting below the Mendoza Line.

He's not anymore after a big night Monday, but the guy who's arguably still the team's best hitter when everything's right hasn't been right very often so far in 2019. That could be starting to change, though, and if it does, a lineup that's already a heck of a lot more threatening to opposing pitchers than it was at any point in 2018 could become even more fearsome, even more productive. And that leads to more wins, important not just for fans hoping for a surprise run at relevancy given the weak state of the division, but for a team building a lineup for the future that it hopes is scoring a whole bunch of runs in meaningful games in seasons to come.

Abreu went 3-for-5 in Monday night's 12-2 laugher in Baltimore, the White Sox bats looking even better with an opportunity to feast on Orioles pitching, which entered as the worst staff in the majors with a 6.21 ERA and owned a 6.37 ERA after Monday's blowout. But it's a three-game hitting streak for a guy whose average was down to .174 after Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. Since, he's 6-for-15 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Maybe it's just a nice three-game stretch, boosted by a chance to swing against the big leagues' worst pitching staff. But it allows the White Sox to dream about a lineup made ever more dangerous by the regular production of a two-time All Star and one of the AL's reigning Silver Sluggers.

Again, offense has not been the main reason the White Sox are still underwater, from a win-loss perspective, at this point. They aren't exactly blowing the doors off the league when it comes to their offensive prowess, middle of the pack in baseball with 106 runs scored this season. But they entered Monday's game with a 5.44 team ERA, one of the four worst marks in the bigs. The bullpen's ERAs are still on their way down after short outings from the starting staff in the season's first couple of weeks forced them into unenviable situations. One run allowed in Monday's bullpen day should help with that. The team ERA shot down to 5.27 after Monday's game, still not enough to vault them out of the bottom six teams in the league.

But reliable versions of Anderson (who's still hitting over .400), Moncada and Jimenez are pieces this lineup didn't have last year, and they've been three of the best parts of it so far in 2019. Leury Garcia has been quietly productive if not flashy while doing it. James McCann, who hit a three-run homer to start the scoring in Monday night's rout, has put up good numbers in limited time while splitting catching duties with Welington Castillo. Even Ryan Cordell, only the team's starting right fielder for a few days, has shown promise with a couple homers already. There have been holes, of course, chiefly Yolmer Sanchez — who was still hitting under .100 on April 13 but is now batting .231 after a three-hit night Monday — and the sent-down Daniel Palka. Abreu and Yonder Alonso, in the middle of the White Sox order, have been unproductive, as well, while the younger guys have flourished around them.

But an Abreu turnaround — or, really, an awakening, considering how early it still is — would boost the numbers and make the lineup capable of even more on a regular basis.

It could also be another factor in the ongoing conversation about a potential Abreu contract extension. While Hahn has suggested it's unlikely that such a deal would be struck during the season, it wouldn't be surprising to see it come before Abreu is set to hit free agency once the 2019-20 offseason begins. The White Sox are such big fans of what Abreu does in the clubhouse and as a mentor for younger players that production might not play as big a role as it normally would. But obviously the consistency of that production in Abreu's first five big league seasons certainly helps. To keep that production going with a late-April awakening would be all the more reason to keep Abreu around for the transition from rebuilding to contending.

The White Sox lineup has been promising to this point. It could become downright potent if Abreu starts knocking the ball around as we all know he can.

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