Results tagged ‘ Chris Sale ’

Here we go…

It’s going to be a spring like no other in recent years. As opposed to the past few seasons when the conventional wisdom was that the White Sox were bonafide contenders, there is virtually no one on the outside that is predicting success for the Sox in 2012.

It all starts tomorrow as pitchers and catchers officially report with a group of position players who want to get a head start.

The good news is that there are surprise teams each year that fool the so-called experts. As I’ve stated in this space before, I have no idea how the Sox are going to fare, but they very well could have the makings of one of the teams that will fool the baseball world. If…

* Robin Ventura takes to this managing thing.

* Adam Dunn is the Adam Dunn of old.

* Gordon Beckham reverts to the success of his rookie season.

* Alex Rios plays like he did in 2010.

* Matt Thornton, Addison Reed or someone else becomes a competent closer

* Jake Peavy is close to his previous Cy Young form and he and his fellow starters–John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Phil Humber and newly-appointed rotation member Chris Sale–make up for the innings lost with Mark Buehrle‘s departure.

We’ll have to wait on these and other issues, but my gut tells me things aren’t going to be as dark as everyone is saying.

10 Days to Pitchers and Catchers

Scott Merkin whets our White Sox appetite today on whitesox.com with some facts, figures and projections to chew on:

* Pitchers and catchers report on February 23

* Full squad reports on February 28

* First Spring Training game, March 5, vs. the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch

* Opening Day, April 6, at Texas

Merkin’s Projected Batting Order:

Alejandro DeAza CF, Gordon Beckham 2B, Paul Konerko 1B, Adam Dunn DH, Alex Rios LF, A.J. Pierzynski C, Alexei Ramirez SS, Dayan Viciedo RF, Brent Morel 3B

Projected Rotation:

John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Philip Humber

Projected Bullpen:

Matt Thornton Closer, Jesse Crain RH setup man, Will Ohman LH setup man (with all other spots up for grabs). Key bullpen prospect to watch is Addison Reed, who very well might be the closer (my two cents, not Merkin’s).

New Guys:

Nestor Molina RHP, Dan Johnson 1B, Ozzie Martinez IF and, of course, the skipper Robin Ventura

Key Losses:

Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Ramon Castro, Jason Frasor

The White Sox in 2012: Nobody Knows for Sure

In a few weeks the White Sox will be firmly embedded in spring training mode trying to assemble a team that’s ready to contend in the A.L. Central.

Conventional wisdom says it’s going to be a difficult task with the Tigers showing no signs of fading and the Royals and Indians seemingly poised to reach the next level.

You really can’t blame the skeptics. As names like Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, DarvishWilson and others have been the talk of the hot stove period, the White Sox made “headlines” with the acquisition of minor league pitchers Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb while losing known quantities Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor in the process. The only major news was the signing of John Danks, who we all thought was destined to be traded.

It’s really easy to look at all this and come to the conclusion that bad things are in store for the 2012 club. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  With myriad questions, the truth is that we just don’t know how the season will manifest.

How will the Ozzie-less Sox be with Robin Ventura at the helm?

Will the Sox survive without Buehrle?

Will Danks pick up where Buehrle left off?

Will an effective closer be found to replace Santos?

Will Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound?

Will Alejandro De Aza be a competent major league leadoff hitter?

Will Paul Konerko be Paul Konerko?

Will Jake Peavy be the Cy Young Peavy?

Will Dayan Viciedo live up to the hype and make us forget Quentin?

Will Chris Sale make a successful switch to the starting rotation?

Will Kenny Williams make any more significant deals to upgrade the big league roster?

More than any other year I can remember, it’s hard to predict what’s in store for all of us this season.  We’re just going to have to wait and see.

Over and Out

The season of our discontent ended in familiar fashion this afternoon as the White Sox, a wild Chris Sale in particular, blew a ninth inning lead to end the season in third place at 79-83.

A lot will happen during the offseason as the Sox retool in an effort to get better and erase the memory of a very forgettable 2011. At the top of the list will be the naming of a new skipper, hopefully some time before the start of the World Series.

I’ll be back with my opinions and observations as things develop. And thanks for hanging in with me this summer, it wasn’t easy for any of us.

Pride Matters

After the White Sox lost the opener and found themselves down 4-0 going into the fifth inning in the second game of yesterday’s split doubleheader vs. the Tribe, I wondered, Where is the Sox pride?”

Sure, the Sox have been eliminated from the A.L. Central race, but the truth is that there is still something to play for–second place and a .500 record. Modest achievements based on this season’s expectations, but in my view the players owe it to themselves, the organization and the fans to give it their all through Game 162.

So, it was heartening to see the Sox rally to overcome the four-run deficit to win the nightcap, 5-4. It makes me feel a whole lot better about this group.

It was also nice to see how they did it. Gordon Beckham smashed three doubles and drove in a run; Alejandro De Aza, who could be an important piece of the puzzle in 2012, knocked in a pair ; and Josh Kinney, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Chris Sale, in relief of Dylan Axelrod, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

Eight games to go.

A Most Unlikely Development

After suffering through the demoralizing three-game sweep at the hands of Tigers, which included an 8-1 defeat, a blown 8-1 lead and an embarrassing 18-2 thrashing on Sunday night, the White Sox facing the prospect of a split doubleheader in Minnesota on Monday was a scary thought. Especially since the Sox arrived at their Twin Cities hotel around 2 a.m.

But you never know about the game of Baseball.

Philip Humber, rebounding from a tough few starts and a stint on the DL, was outstanding in the first game. He hurled a shutout in his seven innings of work and emerged as the winning pitcher, thanks to a Chris Sale save, in the 2-1 victory.

If Humber’s performance wasn’t impressive enough, rookie Zach Stewart outdid him in the nightcap. Stewart (pictured above at far right, enjoying the moment) flirted with a perfect game, which was thwarted by a Danny Valencia double leading off the eighth inning, and chalked up a complete game, one-hit shutout for a 4-0 triumph.

The Sox are still eight games behind the sizzling Tigers with a tough road ahead, but for now a doubleheader sweep with two young starters with modest expectations allowing zero runs is something to celebrate.

“The More Wins We Get, The Better Off We Will Be”

Duh, yeah, Alex Rios, you’re right about that: “The more wins we get, the better off we will be.”

I guess the White Sox centerfielder could be excused for his Yogism after he had a lot to do with the White Sox’s rare laugher this afternoon as they blanked the defending American League champion Rangers, 10-0.  It was a banner day for the beleaguered Rios both at bat and in the field.

On a day like this when everything is clicking, it’s a pleasure to look at the box score:

–The South Siders scored 10 runs on 16 hits.

–Homers were cranked  by Rios and Brent Lillibridge.

–A three-hit day was enjoyed  by Lillibridge while Rios, Juan Pierre, Paul Konerko,Tyler Flowers, Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham had two hits apiece. The only Sox player without a hit was Alexei Ramirez, but he scored a run after drawing a walk.

–Other offensive highlights included a three RBI day by De Aza, two apiece by Pierre, Lillibridge and Rios and Flowers’ three runs scored.

Gavin Floyd was outstanding as he won his 11th game. In seven innings, he gave up just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Chris Sale pitched a scoreless eighth and Jason Frasor struck out the side in the ninth.

–The only blemishes were the two errors, one by Lilli and one by Alexei.

With the victory the Sox are back at .500. They remain five games in back of the Tigers and are now just a half-game behind the Indians.

Sox Note of Note:  It’s likely that Carlos Quentin won’t be back in the lineup until the end of the week at the earliest. The possibility of him being put on the DL is still there with Dayan Viciedo waiting in the wings.

A Crazy Night at the Cell as Sox Move Above .500

Last night, after the White Sox failed to score Alex Rios from third base with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Indians, it felt like it just wasn’t going to be our night–and, more to the point, it’s just not our year.

The Sox ultimately survived the 14-inning, 5 hour and 21 minute marathon, 8-7, thanks to Juan Pierre‘s game-winning single, but it was a maddening night for those of us watching the game. A game that put us over the .500 mark for the first time since April and moved us to within a half-game of the second-place Tribe.

Here’s what I mean:

–The Sox collected an impressive 22 hits, led by Paul Konerko and Brent Morel with four each, but stranded 16 runners.

–We  threatened the record books with five triples (Rios, Alejandro De Aza 2, Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers), but only two of them scored.

–The bullpen outpenned the Cleveland pen, as all six full-time relievers saw action. But Chris Sale gave up a homer to Travis Hafner in the eighth and Sergio Santos blew a save in the ninth to allow the Indians to tie the game and send it into extras.

But in the end, the Sox were able to pull it out and there were a host of positives. In addition to Konerko, Morel, the five triples and a mostly solid bullpen, Pierre homered (only his second) and had three hits in all.  De Aza also totaled three hits and two RBIs (he’s pictured above sliding in with one of his triples) while Flowers had a double and a single and drove in a run. Even a struggling Gordon Beckham came through with a 14th inning double and scored the winning run.

It was a long night and I’m still trying to wake up. I would be feeling a whole lot worse if the uplifting win was, instead, a disheartening loss.

Sox Survive Royals as Flowers Blooms

If Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and their young Royals’ teammates played everybody like they do the White Sox, Kansas City would be an A.L. Central contender instead of 20 games below .500.

After Friday night’s 5-1 drubbing, it’s a relief to see the Sox escape with a 5-4 win last night–especially at home and following two rain delays.  The winning run came across the plate as a result of a bases-loaded walk to Alejandro De Aza, but we’ll take it.

In the “what else is new?” category, Paul Konerko clubbed his 27th homer in the third inning, a two-run blast that gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead. The advantage was lost in the fifth as K.C. touched up Jake Peavy for four runs, but Tyler Flowers (pictured above, being congratulated by Juan Pierre) got the South Siders within a run in the fifth with his first major league home run. A Carlos Quentin RBI double and the De Aza base on balls turned the tide for good in the seventh. Then, Jesse Crain ( 1 1/3 innings) and Chris Sale, who set down the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth for his fourth save, shut the door.

With the Tigers and Indians once again defeating the Orioles and Twins, respectively, the victory was a must. But the truth is they are all a must at this stage as the Sox try to make up the five-game Detroit deficit.

Sox Note of Note: At the beginning of the season, Pierre was going through a rocky time. He wasn’t getting on base, he wasn’t stealing bases when he did get on and his defense was bad at best. He’s still not close to his league-leading SB total from a year ago, but his defense has improved and, after his three hits last night, he’s now batting .285.

The Pen Again

Yesterday’s blog featured a photo that included Monday night heroes A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Sergio Santos celebrating after the game. Also in the photo was Brent Morel, who went 0 for 4 and committed what could have been a fatal fielding error if the Sox hadn’t rallied to win.

What a difference a day makes. Last night, Morel bounced back and was at the center of the offense as the Sox won their fifth in a row, 4-3. He drove in the Sox’s second run in the second inning with a single and homered in the fourth to widen the Pale Hose lead to 4-0.

While Morel’s bat, along with Carlos Quentin‘s 24th homer and Pierzynski’s RBI double, paced the attack, it was the shutdown bullpen that was most impressive as it held the O’s to only the three runs they scored off starter Gavin Floyd in the fifth. Granted, the pen hasn’t been perfect as evidenced by Jesse Crain surrendering the three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on Monday. But the talent and versatility that Ozzie has at his disposal gives the Sox an advantage over most of their opponents.

Here was last night’s scenario:

* Despite showing signs of tiring, Floyd  began the seventh. He gave up a double to Felix Pie, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Floyd then retired the red-hot J.J. Hardy on a grounder to third. Two outs, runner on third, Sox killer Nick Markakis at the plate. Ozzie makes the call to the pen and lefty Will Ohman ends the threat by striking out Markakis.

* Jason Frasor came on to start the eighth. He walked Adam Jones and struck out Vlad Guerrero. With the lefty Chris Davis coming up, Ozzie called on Chris Sale, who retired Davis on a popup and then struck out Mark Reynolds.

* Instead of calling on Santos to begin the ninth, the skipper chose to have Sale face switch-hitter Matt Wieters. He struck him out. With the Orioles opting to call on Josh Bell to pinch-hit for lefty Felix Pie against Sale, Ozzie decided to stay with his lefthander. Bell grounded out to shortstop. Two outs, nobody on.

*Making his final move, Ozzie then called on Santos to face righthanded hitter Robert Andino and  he proceeded to strike him out, the way he did with the three batters he faced the night before. For Santos, save number 24.

And at the risk of burying the lead, the Indians extra-inning win over the Tigers helped the Sox narrow the Detroit lead to four games. A win tonight and the Sox are back at the .500, something we doubted might happen again this season after last week’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

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