White Sox

Streaking White Sox win sixth straight game

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Streaking White Sox win sixth straight game

Friday, July 9, 2010
Updated 11:31 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO On the night the Chicago White Sox learned that ace hurler Jake Peavy would indeed be lost for the season, they found themselves facing a herky-jerky lefthander who pitches as if hes detaching his latissimus dorsi with every toss.

Kansas City Royal Bruce Chen indeed lofted up a fair share of hittable Wiffleballs to the plate on Friday, falling down deep into the rabbit hole that the U.S. Cellular Field pitchers mound has become for opposing pitchers and losing to the white-hot White Sox, 8-2.

Chen had more luck pitching to first base, with two pickoffs, than he did to home plate, and was rewarded for his soft tosses with a shower after just 65 pitches.

Meanwhile the Chicago 9 played a pedestrian game, again striking early and once more finding themselves the beneficiaries of a stellar starters effort, this one coming from old hand Mark Buehrle.

But oh, how quiet and passive much of this game was. The men in black are clearly bored with all the winning, what with six in a row, 19 of 23, 23 of 28, and who knows how many other Sudoku puzzle combinations theyve amassed this summer.

And after the game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen cheekily acknowledged the doldrums of winning, chastising assembled media for a lack of engaging questions: You guys are shocked were winning. When were losing, you guys have 30 questions for me!

Ah, Ozzie, living la dolce vita comes at a cost. Even the scribes must guard against the delicious malaise of a limitless winning streak.

Sure, there was a home run, from A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth, to run Chen. And then another, in the eighth, a three-run blast for the catchers first multi-homer game since 2008. The Campbells Soup Kid left shortly after games end, but his skipper knew just how much the clouts meant.

A.J. was really struggling, Guillen said. He really needed this game.

There was even a near-homer from Andruw Jones to plate two in the second, a screaming double that dented the outfield wall some six feet short, leaving the Curacaoian still one round tripper shy of 400.

I thought I got it, but it was a changeup and the topspin knocked it down, Jones said.

There was spiffy defense, including Gordon Beckham playing mini-Willie Mays to dash out to gather a short pop from Scrabble master Yuniesky Betancourt and a couple of afterburner flies snagged by turfeater centerfielder Alex Rios.

And pitching, yes, there was some of that. Buehrle celebrated his first start with 10 Chisox seasons under his belt by earning his eighth win of the season to get back above sea level. It was an unmasterfully exasperating, anesthetically efficient seven-plus inningstypical Buehrle, 114 pitches that insomniatic Royals hitters will ViewMaster through while staring up at the ceiling tonight.

Buehrle nearly didnt last long enough to see the win. In eerie reminiscence of three days earlier, when Peavy snapped a muscle and walked off the mound and into muscle rehab, K.C. leadoff man Scott Podsednik drilled the starter with a line drive for the first hit of the game. After a lengthy powwow on the mound with Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper, while 25,572 fans turned blue holding breath, Buehrle ignored his rapidly numbing fingers to finish out the inning with little other negative fanfare.

I told him not to hit is so hard next time, is how Buehrle recounted scolding Podsednik, a teammate over two separate White Sox stints. Then hes on first, dancing back and forth for 20 pitches. I told him, Just go, steal, so I can stop throwing over to first.

Wunderkind fireballer Sergio Santos came on relieve Buehrle in the eighth. One guesses that with the ease the southpaw put on display for the first seven, he simply got tired of the baseball game and retired to the clubhouse for some Twittering, or Super Mario Bros.

Nevertheless, it was frying pan to the fire for the City of Fountains, as Santos dismissed the Royals in the eighth with a mere eight tosses.

In the bottom half, Paul Konerko golfed a gapper to the wall in right-center to plate Rios, Chicago momentarily believing they were paid by the hour in an attempt to extend the game. Two batters later, Pierzynski launched his bomb to right to put the White Sox up by a hard eight and qualifying the game as an official laffer.

White Sox reliever Jeff Marquez came on for his major league debut in the ninth and coughed up a two-run homer to Betancourt, but thankfully for the rookie, the Royals had already long retired from this game.

The Triple Play

Saturdays Pitching Probables (6:10 p.m., WGN)

White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd (4-7, 4.43 ERA)

Royals RHP Brian Bannister (7-6, 5.54 ERA)

Super Sox

A.J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3 with two homers and four RBI, snapping an extended slump and raising his average to .243. Funny, you wonder whether when things are going well and the backstops characteristically crucial feistiness is less necessary, Pierzynski flags a bit. Come dog days, as the Chisox need some help digging deep, the Campbells Soup Kid is sure to stand up and be counted.

White Sox Notable Numbers

The White Sox have won six straight, 12 of 13, 19 of 23, and 23 of 28 Their five losses over the last 28 games have been by a total of eight runs, and none of the five losses were by more than two runs They are 12-1 in their last 13 at U.S. Cellular Field The starters are 18-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 26 quality starts in their last 29 games and a 1.77 ERA in the eight games since July 2 Pitchers allowed their first run in 18 innings and first earned run in 31 innings Buehrle is 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his last six starts, and is now 21-11 with a 3.56 ERA in his career vs. K.C. Konerko is hitting .359 with six homers and 30 RBI in his last 35 games Carlos Quentin is batting .341 with seven homers and 14 RBI in his past 14 games.

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

White Sox reportedly 'remain strong factor' in the race for Manny Machado

White Sox reportedly 'remain strong factor' in the race for Manny Machado

The Padres emergence into the Manny Machado sweepstakes has altered the landscape from the White Sox perspective (at least from the outside).

It may have even caused some White Sox fans to lose a bit of hope. Here's Ken Rosenthal to the rescue, reassuring that the White Sox "remain a strong factor" in the chase for Machado's signature.

Is this new? Is this news? The White Sox have been in on Machado since his three-city tour that included the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox back in December so them being a strong factor isn't much of an update.

The fact that the White Sox front office and ownership appear to be aligned in Machado being the first choice ahead of Bryce Harper is relevant. It is also relevant that the Padres and Phillies may "not see it as convincingly." We're still playing in vagaries at this point, but this is more encouraging news than hearing the Padres offering a big amount of money for Machado, adding another very serious suitor to the list.

This update comes after Rick Renteria said "don't be surprised" if Yoan Moncada is the White Sox starting third baseman come Opening Day.

The mixed signals and vague reported updates will continue until Harper and/or Machado pick their destinations. Until then, White Sox fans can take this as a mild bit of positive news.

 

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Rick Renteria says 'don't be surprised' if Yoan Moncada is White Sox third baseman come Opening Day: So what's that mean for Manny Machado?

Rick Renteria says 'don't be surprised' if Yoan Moncada is White Sox third baseman come Opening Day: So what's that mean for Manny Machado?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — That potential position switch for Yoan Moncada isn't so potential at the moment. It's happening.

The guy who started 148 games at second base during his first full season in the big leagues is practicing at third base as the full squad has come together here at Camelback Ranch. That was been mentioned as a possibility throughout the offseason by Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria.

But the skipper took things to another level Monday, saying that it shouldn't be a surprise if Moncada is the White Sox starting third baseman come Opening Day.

"I think we are going to work him over there as much as we can during the spring. And don’t be surprised if you see him there Opening Day," Renteria said. "The reality is the more flexibility we have with him, the more he knows what he can do. He sees himself and has been an excellent third baseman, before we (acquired) him, in the amateur ranks.

"It’s one of those things where we want to be able to see and keep ourselves open to all the possibilities and see if he can handle it. There’s no better time than spring training. He’s been working over the winter on it a little bit. As we see him continue to work, we will be able to make a determination as to where he’s at and how good he might be able to be. We’ll keep working at it."

Now, of course the immediate reaction is what this has to do with the guy who's not here, Manny Machado.

The White Sox are still in pursuit of the 26-year-old free-agent superstar, who still hasn't made up his mind on where he's going to sign despite major league camps being in full swing in both Arizona and Florida. Machado plays on the left side of the infield — a two-time Gold Glover at third who moves to shortstop, his original position, last season — and plenty of fans are jumping to the conclusion on social media that because the White Sox are sliding Moncada to third and prepping for him to be the starter at the hot corner that one of two things is happening: 1. The pursuit of Machado is dead, or 2. Machado insists on playing shortstop after all and it's Tim Anderson who'll be moved.

Here's why neither of those things is the case.

Moncada's move to third base has little, if anything, to do with Machado and a lot more to do with Nick Madrigal, last year's first-round pick who is what the White Sox call a Gold Glove caliber defender up the middle, specifically at second base, where he's played since he joined the organization. Madrigal, who the White Sox described as the best all-around player in college baseball when they drafted him, could move through the system quickly, and when he arrives at the major league level, they want to have a spot for him.

But they want to have a spot for Moncada, too, as they still think highly of his ceiling and what he'll be able to do as a hitter one day, despite the 217 strikeouts and other less-than-ideal numbers posted during his first full season in the bigs in 2018. And so with no obvious long-term answer at third base within the organization, getting Moncada there sooner rather than later could make him more comfortable once Madrigal arrives and once the transition from rebuilding mode to contention mode comes. And that could all happen within the next season or two.

Renteria went as far as saying that a move to third could help Moncada improve both on defense and offense. He made 21 errors at second base last season, one of the highest totals in baseball. For what it's worth, in 31 games at third base as a member of the Boston Red Sox organization (including the Arizona Fall League), Moncada made eight errors.

But the manager thinks a move to third could help him focus in the field and at the plate.

"I think that playing third might allow him to free himself up, simply because he’s going to have to be more focused," he said. "At second base, you can get a little bit more lackadaisical. I think that it’s possible, and there’s no guarantee, that playing third base rounds out his focus a little bit more on both sides of the ball. At least that’s an expectation or a hope we might have.

"I think that his range factor is huge, his arm is good. Understanding the nuances of the game at third, getting reacquainted with it again will be a factor in how well he’ll do. But I think that just allowing him, and then allowing us to use (Yolmer Sanchez) at second base a little bit more gives us a little bit more well-rounded infield."

Most importantly, though, Machado simply isn't here. He might be eventually, but he isn't now. And yet Renteria and the White Sox still have to get ready for the upcoming season. If Machado doesn't come, Moncada would likely be the team's starting third baseman, and this is in preparation of that. If Machado does come, it's not a hard fix: Moncada slides back to second base and Sanchez likely takes a bench role.

Renteria said before SoxFest that Machado told the White Sox he'll play anywhere they ask if this is where he ends up signing. That was important info considering Machado's supposed preference for shortstop. And so Tim Anderson likely stays the everyday shortstop whether Machado signs or not. Moncada is the movable piece, and his return to second base would be easy in the event Machado comes to the South Side.

But Renteria is constructing his everyday lineup with the players he has right now. It's a contingency plan in case Machado goes elsewhere, not a sudden change of strategy because the White Sox have given up hope.

"I think I’ve been saying I can’t worry about who’s not here. I’ve been focused on the guys that are here," Renteria said. "I have to move forward that way. And like any team, anything can happen. You make adjustments as those changes occur, if they occur. Right now, the guys that are in that locker room are the ones that I’m most focused on. And we’re trying to make sense of how our roster will look and how our lineups will look with the guys that we do have."

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