The five best pitching duels of 2011 for the Sox

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The five best pitching duels of 2011 for the Sox

Bill James put together his list of the top 100 pitching duels of 2011, using four general criteria: "low-scoring game, quality pitchers on the mound, pitchers pitch well, and something is at stake." The White Sox made the list just once, with Philip Humber's July 2 duel with Matt Garza coming in at No. 55.

Of course, because the White Sox scuffled through 2011, most of their games didn't have something at stake. There's one game I think James missed, being Jake Peavy's 1-0 showdown against Justin Masterson May 18 in his first home start since July of 2010.

But with the lack of Sox games on the list in mind, here are the best pitching duels involving the Sox from 2011, using James' general criteria minus the "something at stake" stipulation.

1. May 18, White Sox vs. Indians: Jake Peavy vs. Justin Masterson (1-0)

The Sox struck early against Masterson, as Adam Dunn hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Juan Pierre in the first inning. That lone run proved to be enough for Peavy, who allowed just three hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in a complete game effort. Masterson settled down -- with the aid of two strike-him-out-throw-him-out double plays -- and went the distance, allowing five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. That Peavy threw a complete game was a little worrisome at the time, as 111 pitches in sub-50-degree weather didn't seem like a good idea for a pitcher coming off a unique injury. But, in the short-term, Peavy wasn't worse off for it.

2. July 2, White Sox @ Cubs: Philip Humber vs. Matt Garza (1-0)

Garza retired 14 White Sox in a row between walking Brent Morel in the first and Gordon Beckham in the sixth, but Humber matched him by keeping the Cubs off the board thanks to inducing three double plays. But that sixth-inning walk to Beckham led to the lone run of the game scoring, as Beckham advanced to second on a bunt by Humber, third on a wild pitch by Garza and scored on a Juan Pierre single. Humber staved off a Cubs rally in the sixth and finished the seventh before giving way to Matt Thornton for a six-out save.

3. May 3, White Sox vs. Twins: Edwin Jackson vs. Fransico Liriano (1-0)

Yeah, this is the no-hitter game. Liriano actually pitched pretty poorly in it, walking six with only two strikeouts. But it gets placed on the No. 3 spot because of the effort given by Jackson, who threw eight innings, allowing one run on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk. The lone run came on a Jason Kubel (who else) homer. Jackson deserves a lot of credit for battling to keep the hapless Sox in the game, even if Minnesota trotted out a poor lineup that day.

4. July 20, White Sox @ Royals: John Danks vs. Bruce Chen (2-1, 11)

Few White Sox pitchers were able to match the pitching dynamo that was Bruce Chen last season, but in this game, Danks did. Chen threw eight innings of run-run ball, while Danks tossed seven shutout innings before being pulled in favor of Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain in the eighth, who combined to let in the game-tying run. But the real battle was taken into extra innings by Chris Sale, who threw two scoreless innings against Joakim Soria and Aaron Crow before running out of gas in the 11th and turning the ball over to Sergio Santos, who let in the game-winning run (which was charged to Sale).

5. June 16, White Sox @ Twins: Mark Buehrle vs. Nick Blackburn (1-0)

Like many of these games, this was one in which Buehrle made one mistake -- a second-inning homer to Michael Cuddyer -- while the Sox offense flailed away at a pitcher of questionable talent. Nick Blackburn allowed seven hits and one walk with one strikeout, but the Sox couldn't push a run home despite having a few opportunities with runners in scoring position.

Afterthought: In quite a few instances, the White Sox offense just didn't show up (or was stuck in Charlotte), so trying to rank these games wasn't too easy. Leave any qualms or suggestions in the comments.

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton break down the upcoming schedule in this week's Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

After a 6-2 homestand, the White Sox got swept by the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox will head to Minnesota for a four-game series and then head back to Chicago for another three-game series against the Tigers.

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Jose Quintana — who's searching for win No. 12 — and Carlos Rodon — who's 3-0 in his last five outings with a 1.47 ERA — are scheduled to get the first two games of the series.

With 30 games left, how many wins will Quintana finish the season with?

Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton share their thoughts.

See what they had to say in the video above.

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers did it to the White Sox yet again.

For a third straight day, the White Sox grabbed an early lead. For a third straight day, the Tigers rallied back to win.

Tyler Collins’ pinch-hit sac fly in the bottom of the ninth inning off David Robertson sent the White Sox to a 3-2 defeat in front of 32,465 at Comerica Park. The victory completed a series sweep for the Tigers, who won eight of the teams’ nine meetings in Detroit this season. Chris Sale earned a no decision despite limiting the Tigers to two runs in eight innings.

“I don’t come here for the experience, I come here to win games and it didn’t happen,” Sale said. “It’s tough. It’s unfortunate. Ran into a little bit of bad luck there. That’s a good team. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win. Certainly did that.”

Even in their two previous losses, the White Sox looked similar to the team that on Sunday completed a 6-3 homestand by taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners.

Sale had the White Sox in the thick of things again on Wednesday as he outdueled Justin Verlander for seven innings. But shortly after Sale struck out Victor Martinez for a second straight time, J.D. Martinez managed to get enough of a 1-1 changeup to dump it into left field for a two-out, game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth.

Rookie JaCoby Jones led off the ninth inning with a double off Robertson and advanced to third on a fly out to the wall by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Collins’ fly ball to left was deep enough for Jones easily to score the winning run when Avisail Garcia bounced his throw home.

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“It’s tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We were playing pretty good baseball, but these guys have been sniffing us (out) at the end. We played fairly well early on, but with the lineup they have, it’s a pretty deep lineup that’s hard to contain.”

Sale used the double play as an effective tool early to get out of some potential trouble spots. One in the first inning erased a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler and Sale ended the second inning with a 6-4-3 off Saltalamacchia’s bat with two aboard. Sale also induced a double play to end the fourth inning after he walked Justin Upton.

Later in the game, Sale turned to his slider with great impact. After he didn’t strike out any of the first 20 hitters he faced, Sale struck out five of the next seven, including Victor Martinez to end the fifth inning with two on.

With the White Sox up 2-1, Sale nearly got out of a difficult eighth-inning jam.

Kinsler led off with a double to center and moved to third on a sac bunt. Sale struck out Victor Martinez but J.D. Martinez came through.

“With two outs already, you’re trying to make him hit your pitch and (Sale) did that,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He threw a really nice changeup off the plate away. Eighth of an inch and it’s a weak ground ball to short. Got to give them credit, he hit a good pitch as well. That was definitely tough. We’ve had two tough losses.”

Verlander was equally tough aside from a pair of fourth-inning mistakes.

Verlander continued a strong season with seven sharp innings as he limited the White Sox to three hits, walked none and struck out nine.

The White Sox jumped ahead of Verlander in the fourth inning when Jose Abreu and Avila belted back-to-back solo homers. But Verlander retired the last 10 hitters he faced and the White Sox were on their way to a third straight difficult defeat.

“I love winning, but it’s hard to hang your head when you play your ass off and so did they,” Avila said. “They happened to come out on top. We’ve had a few tough losses this year, but guys are playing hard. Just unfortunate they were able to get one extra one across.”

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

DETROIT -- Todd Frazier is close to a franchise record for home runs hit by a third baseman and he’s pleased with that aspect of his game. But the White Sox third baseman said Wednesday morning that his focus over the final month of the season is on ways he can improve for next season.

Frazier temporarily gave the White Sox the lead on Tuesday when he homered for the 33rd time, 32 of which have come with him at the hot corner (he also hit one as a first baseman).

With 31 games to go, Frazier is sure to pass both Robin Ventura, who hit 32 of 34 homers in 1996 while playing third base, and Bill Melton, who belted 33 at the hot corner in 1971.

But Frazier’s attention will mostly be tuned to adapting to the American League, which he has found trying at times.

“It has been different,” Frazier said. “I think (Justin) Morneau said it best the other day — National League there’s a lot more hitters, so they’re going to try and tinker a lot more with spots. For me I guess it was a little tough to adjust to that and finally figure out that they’re not always going to throw me strikes with a count that’s in my favor. Bottom line is you’ve got to look for your pitch and stay with it the whole time and eventually, once it comes, you can’t miss it.”

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There was an expectation the batting average of Frazier — a career .257 hitter before 2016 — would suffer some as he transitioned to the AL.

ZIPS projected Frazier’s average would drop to .239 this season.

Through 536 plate appearances, Frazier is hitting .214/.295/.452 this season with 33 homers and 83 RBIs. But he has struggled even more within the AL Central. Frazier entered Wednesday hitting .158/.229/.372 with 11 homers and 92 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances against AL Central foes.

“He’s seen a lot of these guys in our division,” Ventura said. “But there is a lot of good pitching in the American League, especially in the Central that you have to figure out.”

Frazier intends to do that and he’d like to find some success over the last month of games off which to build. Acquired in a three-team trade from Cincinnati last December, Frazier is under team control through 2017. Even though he has been strong with his glove and his home run production is on par with what the White Sox hoped for, Frazier knows there’s work to be done.

“A lot of times this year I did miss a lot of those pitches, but it’s something to learn from and something, look at some video and figure out some things I need to work on for next year,” Frazier said. “There’s always room for change.”