Can De Aza end Sox leadoff homer drought?

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Can De Aza end Sox leadoff homer drought?

Thanks to penciling Juan Pierre into the No. 1 spot in the lineup for the last two years, the White Sox have the longest streak of games without a leadoff home run in the majors -- 326 games, to be exact, per CSNChicago's Chris Kamka.

The last time a White Sox player began a game with a clout was on Oct. 2, 2009, when Scott Podsednik took Edwin Jackson (then on Detroit) yard at Comerica Park. None of the three home runs Pierre hit with the White Sox were of the leadoff variety, although that probably won't play into his battle with Podsednik for a bench spot on the Phillies.

For reference, here are the five longest leadoff clout droughts heading into 2012:

TeamLast
PlayerGamesWhite Sox
Oct. 2, 2009
Scott Podsednik
326DodgersJune 13, 2010
Rafael Furcal
260TwinsMay 23, 2011
Denard Span
116Blue Jays
June 15, 2011
Yunel Escobar
94YankeesJune 19, 2011
Brett Gardner
92

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox look to even series vs. Astros

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox look to even series vs. Astros

Chris Sale and the White Sox square off against the Houston Astros today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale  (13-2, 2.79) vs. Doug Fister (8-4, 3.36)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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White Sox can't get timely hits, fall to Astros

White Sox can't get timely hits, fall to Astros

HOUSTON — A veteran of 10 major league seasons, Carlos Gomez insists he didn't panic when he got off to a slow start to begin this year.

However, he's certainly feeling a lot better now that he's started to turn things around.

Gomez hit a two-run homer, and Mike Fiers and three relievers combined for a shutout to help the surging Houston Astros to a 5-0 victory over the White Sox on Friday night.

Gomez has started heating up after a tough start to the season that included a May in which he hit just .136. He has hit four homers, five doubles and driven in 15 runs since June 5 to boost his average from .182 to .225.

"That makes you better," Gomez said of fighting through his struggles. "You have to continue to do your job. When you do this for 10 years that's because you're a pro. The only thing you can do is continue to believe in yourself and work hard."

It was Houston's fourth straight victory and 11th in the last 12 games.

Fiers (6-3) scattered four hits over six innings. Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson didn't allow a hit in an inning each, and Chris Devenski threw a scoreless ninth.

The Astros didn't have a baserunner until Miguel Gonzalez (1-4) plunked George Springer to start the fourth inning. He then walked Luis Valbuena before Jose Altuve grounded into a double play that left Springer at third.

Houston's first hit came next when Carlos Correa's strange infield popup dropped in front of shortstop Tim Anderson and allowed Springer to score and make it 1-0.

"It was a lucky base hit. I'll take it," Correa said. "Obviously throughout the season we hit a lot of balls hard right at people, so it's good to every once and awhile get a hit like that. It wasn't the best at-bat, but it worked out."

Gonzalez lamented that no one was able to get to it before it dropped.

"Looking back on it for the future, someone's just got to go all out for it," he said. "It's just such a tough play, and you almost never see it. It was really tough because it cost us a run, but it won't happen again. We'll make that play."

Gomez padded the lead when he sent one into the seats in left field with one out in the seventh to make it 3-0. Correa reached on an error by third baseman Tyler Saladino before Gomez's shot.

Gonzalez yielded three hits and two runs in a season-high seven innings.

Houston first baseman A.J. Reed got his first major league hit with a single with two outs in the fifth inning. He was 0-for-16 since being called up on Saturday before the hit.

"Kind of a weight lifted off your shoulders, and now I don't have to come to the ballpark and think, 'Today's the day,'" he said. "So go out and relax and have fun."

Valbuena added an RBI double in the eighth, and Colby Rasmus had a run-scoring single in that inning to make it 5-0.

White Sox 'impressed' with rookie Tim Anderson's start

White Sox 'impressed' with rookie Tim Anderson's start

Aside from Todd Frazier’s desire for a more vocal presence on the field, Tim Anderson’s play has brought few complaints so far.

The White Sox top prospect has flashed ridiculous speed, good hands and a strong arm at shortstop, and his aggressive bat has already made an impact. What’s more, the organization is more than satisfied with the maturity displayed by the 2013 first-round pick and his desire to improve.

To say the least, Anderson is off to a good start with the White Sox, who open a three-game series at Houston on Friday night.

“I've been impressed with Timmy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's a very confident kid. He's quiet, but there's some confidence and some inner-drive. He's not a showboat guy. He just goes out and plays and he's a hard-nosed kid.”

Anderson is hitting .314/.322/.512 with 10 extra-base hits, five RBIs and two stolen bases in his first 19 games. He has multiple hits in 10 contests, which is the most by a White Sox rookie through 19 games since Gus Zernial in 1949. Anderson also has produced three Defensive Runs Saved and is 0.7 Wins Above Replacement in his short time in the majors.

It hasn’t all been easy.

He struck out twice with the bases loaded late in a one-run loss at the Boston Red Sox on June 23. He also endured a 1-for-12 span almost immediately after he was promoted to the majors. And he has struck out 28 times in 88 plate appearances, a rate of 31.1 percent.

But even when he struggles, teammates say Anderson’s mood — quiet, upbeat and determined — has stayed the same.

“With Timmy doing what he’s doing, it’s nice to watch,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “I was telling Rick Renteria in the dugout, he doesn’t change one bit whether he’s bad or good. That’s the sign of a really great athlete.”

The ability to adapt has helped Anderson develop quickly.

[RELATED: Tim Anderson draws first walk of career]

One of the knocks on Anderson has always been that his tools are raw because he didn’t start to play until his junior year at Hillcrest High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. With only four years of baseball experience when he was drafted, the White Sox expected to take their time with Anderson. Before this season, general manager Rick Hahn said Anderson might need all season at Triple-A Charlotte to refine his game.

But Anderson forced their hand.

“He's come a long way in the last couple years as far as just his instinctual stuff on the field and the inner timing of everything, that baseball clock in your mind,” Ventura said. “He's got it on spot.

“Just the ball off the bat, his reactions, his first step quickness. The first thing you really notice is how he moves. He's been great.”

Frazier agrees. He calls Anderson a catalyst at the top of the lineup as the White Sox have averaged 4.7 runs per game with him in the lineup. The team is 10-9 since Anderson arrived.

Frazier’s only point of contention with Anderson is in the field. But it’s all part of Frazier having fun with the rookie — “I bust his chops a lot,” he said.

“He doesn’t say much,” Frazier said. “I wish he would talk some more in the infield.

“Tell me if a guy’s stealing or not. Little things like that.”

Asked about Frazier’s ribbing on Thursday, Anderson started to smile. He recounted how the veteran informed him that the club planned to set aside the umpire, the pitcher and the ball for safe keeping after Anderson drew the first walk of his career.

Though he didn’t know what to expect at first, Anderson has started to find more comfort at the big league level. As for the on field-chatter with Frazier, that’s a work in progress.

“We are going to work on that,” Anderson said. “It’s coming.”