White Sox

Twins use power to seize first place from Sox

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Twins use power to seize first place from Sox

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010
Updated 11:48 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox outfitted their big-game hunter, 10-win fifth starter Freddy Garcia, on Tuesday night in facing a Minnesota Twins club thats been nipping at their heels and prepping to pounce.

And indeed like a leopard leaping out of the bush, the Twins sacked the doe-eyed prey otherwise known as the White Sox with a 12-6 romp through U.S. Cellular Field.

That was a good, old-fashioned, butt-whipping, said left fielder Juan Pierre, who saw his hitting streak snapped at 16 games with an 0-for-3 night that included the indignity of being picked off at first base by Twins starter Scott Baker. They just kept coming and coming.

A very, very bad game, said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his clubs effort. The skipper mentioned that he was so bored during the contest that he started reading factoids on the scoreboard, such as Minnesotas 29-16 now 30-16 record against the Central Division.

Big Game Freddy failed to show, retiring just seven batters in the tipoff to a dog-days set that will help determine the AL Central champion. Garcia is now 5-9 with a 5.65 ERA in 21 starts in August over the past seven seasons.

They beat us, no excuses, said Ramon Castro, who started the season as Garcias catching valet but has blossomed into an offensive force with a .935 OPS in spot play. It was just one of those days where nothing worked for us. It wasnt just Freddy, it was Tony Pena, Scott Linebrink. They were swinging and hitting everything.

In addition to furthering their routine dominance over the Chisox (7-3 on the season so far) in a most direct and gruesome, heart-ripped-from-chest fashion, the Twins seized back first place after 37 days bounced from their customary position atop the division.

A pair of doubles by Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer broke the ice for Minny in the first, followed by a second-inning eruption for four runs, paced by homers from Jim Thome, J.J. Hardy and Mauer.

The White Sox, having succeeded in luring the white-hot Twins into a five-run trap just nine outs into the game, struck back with a three-run blast by Carlos Quentin in the second. With eight runs scored in just the first 10 outs of the contest, the 16-inch softball game was officially on.

One problem for Chicago: It was Minnesota that continued mashing, as the White Sox would get no closer than that 5-3 deficit. Twins leadoff man Denard Span would bat in each of the first three innings and Minnesota would lead 8-3 after four, failing to score in only the fifth, seventh and ninth innings.

For Guillen, it was a meaty, two-out, 0-2 fastball Pena delivered to Michael Cuddyer that was abused for a double that marked a turning point in the game. (The White Sox, trailing a relatively modest 6-3, had just walked Jason Kubel intentionally to set up an easy force play with runners on first and second.)

And the Kubel-Cuddyer combo also menaced Chicago just two innings later, again with two outs, Kubel drawing an easy, five-pitch walk and Cuddyer smashing a first-pitch slider, sporting a distinct absence of slide, some 400 feet into the seats. Even at 8-3 after the fourth, Guillen believed his team could come back. But after Cuddyer crushed that second ball, to come back from a seven-run deficit is just too much.

Again its left to Paul Konerko, as team captain filling the role of lukewarm water alongside a boiling pot like Guillen, to keep some perspective on a loss that will drive overreactions in many fans, and even some dour, Schadenfreudist baseball writers in town.

I dont give falling out of first much thought, Konerko said. That only matters at the end of the year, and theres still a long way to go.

Still, there is urgency in the White Sox clubhouse. Pierre noted that Chicago started the second half on a high note in Minnesota with a win, then dropped three straight to the Twins in increasingly tragic fashion.

Weve got to reverse the trend tomorrow, said the speedster. I dont care if its 1-0. We just gotta get em.

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

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Another MLB team will soon extend the protective netting in its home ballpark. 

Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner announced that the Nationals will extend the protective netting at Nationals Park further down the foul lines. The netting will be installed during the All-Star break, according to Lerner's press release. 

Ahead of the 2018 season, all 30 MLB teams extended the protective netting in their home ballparks to reach the outfield end of both dugouts. However, the White Sox announced on Tuesday that they will extend netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to reach both foul poles, becoming the first MLB team to do so.

Extended netting has become a widely-discussed topic across baseball this season. In a game between the Cubs and Astros on May 29, a four-year old fan was struck by a foul ball line drive hit by Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. The fan was rushed to the hospital following the incident and players from both teams were visibly shaken afterwards.

Almora spoke out about the need to protect fans several days later.

"I hope this never happens again, so whatever the league has to do to make that happen," Almora said at Busch Stadium on May 31 ahead of a Cubs-Cardinals game. "I don't think any kid that goes to a baseball game with their parents or whoever should worry about making it out unhealthy or whatever the case may be. I don't think that should ever cross their mind. 

"Whatever the league needs to do to do that, that should be in place."

Lerner referenced the fan in Houston specifically in the Nationals' announcement on Thursday.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums," Lerner said. "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive.

"I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

Although only the White Sox and Nationals have announced plans for further extended netting this season, more teams will likely follow suit. In fact, the Rangers will extend the netting at their new ballpark next season to a similar area as the Nationals.

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One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

Though only four runs separated the White Sox from the Cubs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, it felt like a blowout when Zack Collins made his first trip to the plate as a big leaguer.

The No. 11 prospect in the organization was called up to the majors ahead of Tuesday's game, though he didn't see any action then, and he wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday night's Crosstown contest on the North Side, either.

But manager Rick Renteria called on Collins to pinch hit — an appearance perhaps only made possible by National League rules in a National League park — with two outs to go in the top of the ninth inning.

"It was huge for me. It was a dream come true," he said after the game. "Just stepping up to the plate, looking to the outfield, seeing the crowd. We were down four in the top of the ninth and obviously trying to get on base, trying to keep the train moving. I thought I put a good at-bat together and it was a lot of fun.

"Rizzo said a couple things to me, said congratulations and stuff like that. That was pretty cool. Other than that I was kind of in a daze out there looking around. Like you said, soaking it all in, enjoying the moment."

It only took one plate appearance for Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about. He worked the count full and took a walk. Get used to that.

Collins made quite a habit of that kind of thing in the minor leagues, posting huge on-base percentages over the last few years. In 122 games at Double-A Birmingham last season, he had a .382 on-base percentage, and he wasn't far off that mark in his 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte this season, reaching base at a .374 clip. Last season, he walked 101 times for a 19 percent walk rate. This season, he walked 36 times for a 17.5 percent walk rate.

His walk rate in the majors is a cool 100 percent at the moment. The 1.000 on-base percentage looks even better.

"That's pretty good, right?" he joked.

Patience at the plate might end up being Collins' most valuable attribute at the major league level. His offensive skills have been lauded since the White Sox took him with a top-10 pick in the 2016 draft, and he hit 49 homers in his four minor league seasons, also showing off that power by winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game last year. His defensive skills have remained a question, though, and while he'll most likely serve as the White Sox No. 2 catcher behind James McCann, who's in the midst of an All-Star campaign, he can also be utilized at designated hitter and perhaps even first base.

But it's that good eye that the White Sox are hoping to see from the get-go. They saw it Wednesday night, and it's something Collins said has always been a part of his game.

"I've never really worked on that, so I would guess it kind of came naturally. It's a good thing to have," he said. "Guys at this level have some pretty good stuff. I'm looking to be aggressive but also swing at strikes."

You only get one chance to make a first impression, they say. Collins' first impression was pretty emblematic of the kind of hitter he hopes to be in the bigs.

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