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.

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.