White Sox

'Very very very' bad ninth inning stings Sox

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'Very very very' bad ninth inning stings Sox

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: April 8, 10:26 p.m. Updated: 12:06 a.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
CHICAGO It was much too early in the season for Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to be this exasperated.

But after Matt Thornton blew his second save in two tries on the young season in a ninth inning punctuated by very bad baseball, leading to a fall-from-ahead 9-7 loss to the heretofore-winless Tampa Bay Rays, Guillen was wiped out.

WATCH: Ozzie's unique plan

Asked whether he would shuffle his bullpen roles to take some of the pressure off Thornton, who drew the dreaded BS-L for the game, Guillen lost patience for the first time this season.

I might put a bomb out there and kill everyone, Guillen said in frustration. What are my plans? Hmph You look at the game, Thornton gave up the runs, but we didnt help him. What is the plan? Right now, what should I do? I dont think I should do anything right now.

Thornton was shaken but otherwise measured after the game, exuding confidence even in the face of his toughest setback of the season.

Its a three-run lead and inexcusable to give that up in that situation, he said. The team played so good all game long and did such a great job with our offense, once again. They had a nice little cushion for us but I couldnt shut the door on it.

Finishing off a somewhat preposterous first week of the White Sox season, Thorntons miss blew the win for John Danks, who himself struggled to get an out in the seventh and left the game as disgusted as hes ever been in a Chicago uniform.

In the seventh, that was just embarrassingtheres no other way of putting it, Danks said. You have a guy trying to give you an easy out and I cant even get the ball to him. I dont know. Its embarrassing We had it set up to make a play and help me get out of the inning. I couldnt help myself. Its in the past and you move on. It would have been nice to get out of that inning on my own.

Jesse Crain came on to relieve Danks with none out and the bases loaded and did well to allow just one run to pass, on a failed double play-turned-fielders choice.

Jesse did a hell of a job, Danks said. I left him in a pretty crappy situation, and he came in and did a great job.

The White Sox escaped the seventh leading 5-4 and were further buoyed by a two-run single from Mark Teahen in the eighth, providing what seemed to be icing on the cake and capping a terrific 3-for-4, three-RBI night.

Individually, it felt good to get out there and get some chances and produce, Teahen said. The goal is to win, and we came up short of that goal. Well get after it tomorrow.

Indeed, Teahens two-out knock turned out to be the equivalent of spitting on a cupcake and calling it frosting, as a half-frame later, the game fell apart for the Pale Hose.

Four hits off Thornton were spaced by a throwing error by Alexei Ramirez and a fielding error by Juan Pierre, culminating in the worst inning of baseball the White Sox have played all season.

In the ninth inning we played very bad baseball, Guillen said. People can point or do whatever they wantwe played a very good baseball game, all the way to the ninth. Thats Thorntons job, to go out there and save games but obviously we did not help to make the inning very easy.

The death knell was a game-winning, three-run homer by Dan Johnson, which propelled the Rays to their first win of the season, in front of a chilly and stunned Chicago crowd. It wasnt just Tampas first lead of the season, it allowed it to avoid dropping to 0-7, which would have been the worst start by a defending division champion in baseball history.

Aside from that pitch to JohnsonI made a mistake over the plate against himI felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well. They did the job putting it in play and making things happen for them.

Gordon Beckham (3-for-5 with three extra-base hits), Ramirez and Teahen had home runs for the White Sox.

For one night, the White Sox were left to traipse dangerously close to clich and line up behind a fallen teammate.

As clich as it sounds, its only one game, Danks said. We know these guys are going to play great defensethey did the whole game for me. It just happens. There really is no explanation for it. Matt threw the ball well and these guys made plays, a couple of plays didnt get made but all in all, we like our chances.

Keeping it in perspective

Thornton again was brutally honestand awfully sweetwhen asked when he will forget tonights ninth-inning meltdown.

Maybe when I see my daughter in the morning Ill forget about it.

1900 style

Taking until the ninth inning of their seventh game to hold their first lead made Tampa Bay the team taking the longest to hold a lead since the 1900 season.

Peavy Watch

Jake Peavy threw 71 pitches in his rehabilitation start on Friday for Double-A Birmingham at Montgomery, piling up strong numbers although failing to get through the fourth inning.

Everything went well tonight, he said. It was a step in the right direction. My arm felt better than it has in quite a while. I made some good pitches and some bad pitches. Overall, I was very, very pleased the way the night went.

The goal for the start was 75 pitches and five innings, so Peavy fell short of both in his effort, pitching 3 23 innings and giving up two unearned runs on five hits, with four strikeouts measured against a walk and a wild pitch.

I didnt command the ball the way I hoped, he said. But it was nice to be under some lights in a nice competitive atmosphere.

Unlike a controlled setting of a side session or simulated game, Peavy found that pitching against an aggressive Montgomery club scuttled his strategy for the start.

I didnt work on anything particular, he said. I was down here, and not speaking down about anything but they had very aggressive hitters tonight. I had to pitch a little backwards. When your command wasnt the best in the world as far as fastball and youre facing aggressive guys, you want to change speeds. I did a good job of that, keeping the ball off the barrel.

Peavy will work out on Saturday, with some running, lifting, and shoulder program work, then will join the White Sox for his first games with the teamstill inactive, watching from the dugout, of course.

But if you ask Peavy, hed be pitching for the White Sox next week.

Im going to let the White Sox make those decisions, he said. I dont want to stay down here working on anything. When my pitch count is where it needs to be I want to pitch in the big leagues five days from now. If it was up to me, I would throw 90 in the big leagues on Wednesday. Thats not realistic. So you do what the team asks you to do, and be smart.

"I feel like my arm strength is getting there. During Spring Training, I was facing big league hitters and big league lineups. I believe Im going to get outs. If it was reasonable to have a starter on 75 or 90 pitches, I would pitch in the big leagues tonight. But you have to be reasonable. I want to take the mound close to how Im used to taking it-- for the most part healthy and feeling like I can go out and do what Edwin did at times and on the days I dont have it battle to keep the team in it."

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

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

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USA TODAY

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

Baseball fans might want to sit down for this shocking news: Gerrit Cole lost last night.

The Washington Nationals played in and won a World Series game for the first time in their history, but the more hard-to-believe news was Cole's performance, in which the potential AL Cy Young winner gave up five runs and took the "L."

That result made the Nationals the first team to hand Cole a loss since May 22, when he lost to the White Sox in Houston. The two squads are the only teams Cole has lost to since the calendar switched from April to May. It was just the third time since that loss to the White Sox in which the Astros lost a game Cole started.

That goes to show you just how insanely good Cole has been this season. Between losses, he owned a 1.59 ERA in 25 games, including his first three starts of this postseason. All in all during the regular season, he led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and led baseball with 326 strikeouts.

But the Nationals flipped that script in Game 1, tagging Cole for five runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers off the bats of Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman. It was a performance reminiscent of that May night, when the White Sox scored six runs off Cole, getting home runs against the ace from Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu.

Of course, this statistical happenstance won't be the only thing tying Cole to the White Sox this fall. The South Siders have starting pitching at the top of their offseason to-do list, and Cole will be the biggest name on the free-agent market. What's expected to be the richest pitching contract in baseball history and a supposed preference to play on the West Coast might lessen the chances that Rick Hahn's front office will reel Cole in, but they're just one offseason removed from chasing the two biggest names on the free-agent market, when they pursued Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last winter.

Cole in a White Sox uniform come Opening Day? Maybe if Cole subscribes to the old logical of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

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Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

The business of free agency and trades doesn’t begin until after the World Series, but you White Sox fans are a lot like me. You can’t wait till then. So, without MLB’s permission, I have plugged in baseball’s Hot Stove a little early (don’t tell anyone). And while I cannot personally bring you Madison Bumgarner, Trey Mancini, Francisco Lindor and Charlie Blackmon, I talk about them (and a lot more) in this edition of the Sox Drawer.

What position do you feel is at the top of the list for a major offseason signing? — @BJBumgarner

Thanks for the question, B.J. And sorry if I’m blowing your cover here, but any chance you’re related to the aforementioned Madison Bumgarner? If so, I know a baseball team on the South Side that can definitely use him. Feel free to pass that long at the next family gathering.

Seriously though, it’s tough to say if starting pitching is at the very top of the White Sox offseason wish list, but it’s right up there with right field and designated hitter. I’ll call it a three-way tie. And since I brought up MadBum, he really would be an interesting fit for the White Sox: a left-handed veteran who’s won a World Series (or three) and a World Series MVP. He’d be like the Jon Lester signing on the North Side ahead of the 2015 season, a plant-the-flag deal that would signal to the rest of the league that the White Sox mean business in 2020 and beyond.

He’s not the same dominant pitcher he was from 2013 to 2016, but he started 34 games in 2019, finishing with a 3.90 ERA with 203 strikeouts in 207.2 innings. However, at 30 years old, does he want to cash in his chips and pitch in the American League where he has to face a DH instead of a pitcher every five days? Bumgarner also loves to hit. He’s won two Silver Slugger awards. Maybe he can be a starting pitcher/DH for the White Sox? OK, maybe not.   

Who’s the most realistic free agent the White Sox will sign? I’m thinking someone like Zack Wheeler or Jake Odorizzi. Thoughts? — @arkennedy47

In terms of starting pitching, I agree that the Wheeler/Odorizzi tier seems more realistic for the White Sox. In the past, they’ve tried to stay away from signing pitchers to deals beyond three years. The biggest and most recent exception was when they signed John Danks to a five-year, $65 million extension in 2011 — and he proceeded to go 25-48 with a 4.92 ERA in those five seasons that were supposed to be right in the middle of his prime. Pitchers. They can be a dicey bunch.

What kind of deals will Wheeler and Odorizzi get? Tough to say, but they might be more in line with what the White Sox are willing to stomach in terms of years for a starting pitcher. If you want my full list of realistic free agents for the White Sox this offseason, I shared them on our most recent White Sox Talk Podcast. We all made a wide range of predictions. Take a listen.

After last season, I refuse to dream of or even ponder a wish list for the White Sox. Heart still being put back together. — @AdamTeacher

Adam, I hear you. The failed attempt to sign Manny Machado last winter still lingers as we head into this offseason. Some of you have moved on. Others have not. Under the circumstances, the breakthrough seasons of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson in 2019 hopefully helped lessen the blow:

Moncada: .315/.367/.548, 4.6 WAR

Anderson: .335/.357/.508, 4.0 WAR

Machado: .256/.334/.462, 3.1 WAR

Hello, Our Chuck. First let me say I wasn’t too disappointed the Sox didn’t acquire Manny, because here’s a name I would REALLY love to sign when he’s available in 2021, Francisco Lindor. How can we make this happen? He’d kill it with this new brand of youth on the Soxside. — @panchrio

With two years left on his contract, Lindor’s free agency when he turns 28 is likely going to be Machado and Bryce Harper all over again. The switch-hitting, all-world shortstop would certainly look great in a White Sox uniform, and I appreciate your forward thinking, but we’ve still got two more seasons before we get there. But since you asked the question, I’ll give you an honest answer. If Tim Anderson continues to trend upward offensively and improves defensively, I don’t think it would be wise financially to spend $300 million on Lindor. Better to use that money elsewhere.

But if the White Sox end the 2021 season and Anderson is not the player they envisioned he’d become and they have a glaring need at shortstop, then sure, the White Sox should go down the Lindor path, and White Sox fans can buckle their seatbelts for another rollercoaster offseason. Until then, I expect the Indians to trade Lindor (possibly as soon as this winter) so they can get something for him since they will likely lose him to free agency and end up with nothing in return.

Is it possible the Sox could trade for the Orioles Trey Mancini? Is he even available? What would it take to get him? — @JayDBaseball

On paper, give me Trey Mancini right now, all day, everyday. He’s 27, he plays right field and isn’t a free agent until 2023. He’s not the best defensively, but everyone loves the swing and his numbers from 2019, which was a big breakout season for him: .291/.364/.535 with 35 home runs.

The Orioles are dreadful. They’ve just started their rebuild and are coming off a 108-loss season. Think of the White Sox when they started their own rebuild in 2016. If the Orioles are going to trade a cost-controlled player like Mancini, they’re going to be asking for a big haul in return. We’re probably talking two of the White Sox top prospects.

A more realistic player the Orioles could be open to trading is Jonathan Villar, a 28-year-old switch-hitting, second baseman/shortstop who played all 162 games last season and stole 40 bases. He only has one more year left on his contract. With Nick Madrigal seemingly close to the majors, maybe this isn’t a perfect fit. But if the White Sox decide to give Madrigal more seasoning in the minors, Villar could be a possibility.

What is a likely timetable for Abreu to get a deal? When could we expect that? — @JesmarGuzman

Since the free-agency window doesn’t officially begin until six days after the World Series (there’s a five-day quiet period where teams can exclusively negotiate with their own free agents but can't sign them), the earliest Abreu can reach a deal with the White Sox is some time in early November, depending on how long the World Series lasts. I know Abreu told reporters during the season that if it was up to him, “I would sign myself,” but when it comes down to doing actual business, negotiating usually doesn’t start with, “I’ll sign myself to whatever number you put on the table.” That said, both sides have expressed a strong desire to continue together, and I expect that to happen with Abreu and the White Sox.

Still, after winning the 2005 World Series and publicly handing the baseball from the final out to Jerry Reinsdorf during the victory parade, Paul Konerko didn’t re-sign with the White Sox until Nov. 30. He considered offers from the Orioles and Angels before agreeing to come back to the South Side.

Maybe they come to an agreement during the exclusive negotiating window and it’s a quick, done deal. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t be concerned. It’s just business.

Corey Dickerson ... yay or nay? I think he’s a great fit. — @JustinGranzin

Dickerson might be a great fit as a left-handed hitter and clubhouse guy, but he’s only played four games in right field in his career. I’d want to look into that before paying him around $10 million a year.

I know there’s a lot of noise to sign a left-handed power bat in right field, but shouldn’t one be prioritizing defense for the right-field spot? IMO, I think defense and on-base needs to improve more than power. I don’t think MLB is going to allow as many homers next season. — @bmarsh442003

All good points here. Defense, on-base percentage and power. It would be great to have all three of these traits in one player if you can find it. “Hello Boston Red Sox, can we have Mookie Betts, please?”

The White Sox do need more balance in the middle of their lineup, and they will get that from a left-handed power hitter. Maybe that guy becomes your DH and you acquire a right fielder who can play defense and draw walks? A different baseball could drastically reduce the amount of home runs next season, but unless you know for certain it will happen, it’s tough to plan a whole season around it. But I get where you’re coming from.

What will it take to get Blackmon from the Rockies? Heard they may be shedding payroll. I think he could play either corner spot. — @Wrighthood24

I like everything there is about Charlie Blackmon except this: his home and road splits. Playing in the high elevation of Coors Field, he’s a perennial All Star. Away from Denver, it’s been a different story. Check out his numbers in 2019:

Home: .379/.435/.739

Road: .256/.299/.432

Unless the White Sox move their home games to Denver, I’d probably stay away from a Blackmon trade.

Pitching and defense win (games) and basic baseball fundamentals. Too many mental errors last year. — @JohnFab91929303

Yes to all that.

What is your prediction for 2020 win total? Over/under 81? Sox finally back to a winning season? — @shoopcapone

Get back to me in spring training.

And finally ... 

When will the people get what they want? A Chuck Garfien bobblehead. — @DCeaseTheDay

If that’s what people want, we’ve got serious problems.

Thanks everyone for your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

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