White Sox

On The Farm: Great Win For Great Falls

On The Farm: Great Win For Great Falls

Monday, Aug. 23, 2010
Posted: 10:10 p.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Voyagers ended their road trip with a second consecutive victory on Monday, topping Missoula, 10-6, in 10 innings. It was the third victory in four games for Great Falls, which began the road trip by getting swept in a four-game set at Orem.

Michael Blankes two-out, bases-loaded triple sparked a four-run 10th inning. He then scored on an error to give the Voyagers a four-run bulge. He finished with three hits. Dusty Harvard added two hits and an RBI.

Nelson Curry pitched two scoreless innings to pick up his first victory.
Birmingham AA
John Shelbys sixth-inning grand slam powered the Barons to a 9-5 victory over Carolina on Monday night. The one-out blast was his ninth-homer of the season.

Sal Sanchez, who had two hits, also homered and drove in a pair. The power surge allowed Kyle Bellamy to pick up his second Southern League win of the season and second in as many appearances.

In other action, Greensboro edged Kannapolis, 4-2. Trayce Thompson was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Ryan Buch took the loss, allowing four runs in five innings. Host Lynchburg bnlanked Winston-Salem, 5-0, in a game that was called after seven-plus innings because of rain. Stephen Sauer allowed all five runs in six innings. The Dash managed only four hits. Cody Stanleys RBI single in the 12th inning lifted Johnson City to a 3-2 victory at Bristol. Richard Marshall suffered the loss. Dan Black had a pair of hits for the Sox. Gwinnett downed visiting Charlotte, 5-2. Brent Morel had a pair of hits, including a homer and an RBI, to push his average to .321. Hes riding a seven-game hitting streak during which he is batting .500 13-for-26.
CUBSDaytona A
The Cubs split a doubleheader with Brevard County, dropping the opener, 7-3, before rallying to win the nightcap, 4-2, at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Having lost Trey McNutt to a promotion over the weekend, the Cubs acted quickly to replace the ace by promoting RHP Nick Struck from Peoria on Monday. Struck, a 39th-round pick in 2009, was 8-8 with a 3.22 ERA in 25 games 18 starts for the Chiefs. He was 6-0 in his last seven appearances for Peoria and had a 1.97 ERA in his last 13 appearances.

Struck suffered the loss in the opener after allowing four runs in 4 23 innings in the completion of Sundays suspended game.

The Cubs used a four-run sixth inning to decide the nightcap. Greg Rohans two-run single was the deciding blow.
Peoria A
The Chiefs dropped a 3-1 decision at Clinton, managing only five hits at Alliant Energy Field. The loss puts Peoria four games back of the LumberKings in the race for the playoffs with 16 games remaining.

The Chiefs added LHP Austin Kirk from Boise on Monday. Kirk, a third-round pick in 2009, was 4-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 games 10 starts for the Hawks. He took the loss, allowing two runs in four innings though he did strike out seven. Kirk also picked a pair of runners off first.

RHP Daniel Keefe was also added from Boise while LHP Jeff Antigua shoulder and RHP Su-Min Jung right shoulder were placed on the disabled list. Keefe was with Peoria from mid-July until last week, going 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and a save in 11 appearances before moving back to Boise. He made an appearance for the Hawks over the weekend and overall is 0-1 with a save, posting a 3.94 ERA in 10 Northwest League appearances.
In other action, Nashville did all its scoring in the first two innings and downed Iowa, 8-6, at Principal Park. Austin Bibens-Dirkx allowed all eight runs on 10 hits over five innings. Brad Snyder was 1-for-3 and drove in his 89th run of the year. ... Trey McNutt made his Southern League debut and was roughed up as West Tenn bounced the Smokies, 7-4. McNutt allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 23 innings to suffer his first loss of the year. Steve Clevenger, who was named as the Southern League hitter of the week on Monday, had a pair of hits but saw his consecutive hit streak end at nine at-bats.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

0522-james-shields.jpg
USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."