Humber's gem lost in bullpen collapse

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Humber's gem lost in bullpen collapse

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Posted: 4:07 p.m. Updated: 5:33 p.m.

By BrettBallantini
CSNChicago.com White SoxInsiderFollow@CSNChi_Beatnik
Box score
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After two straight subpar starts, Phil Humber had expressed hope that when he drives home after pitching in his last startthe finale to the Chicago White Sox seasonhed have a smile on his face.

Humber, in a season filled with most improbable success, accomplished his mission, with one-hit pitching over 6 23 innings and a career-high nine strikeouts. With a game score of 71, it tied the Lillibridge game in the Bronx back in April for Humbers second-best of the season.

Today I went with more of a relaxed mindset, Humber said, noting that for most of the second half hes been putting too much pressure on his shoulders. I worked through things and pitched strong.

Phils been great all year, look at his numbers, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. Its a shame we couldnt get him his 10th win. I said at the time in July, he should have been an All-Star He can go out with his head held high, hopefully knowing he has a spot in the spring.

Unfortunately for Humber, he fell short in his bid for that 10th win and a record over .500 when Chris Sale blew the save in the ninth, when he loaded the bases and proceeded to walk in the tying and lead run.

Chris didnt quite have it, White Sox interim manager Don Cooper said. He had a surprising lack of strikes. He just didnt have it for us today.

The White Sox finished in third place in the AL Central, at 79-83.

The notion that Humber has been the White Sox's top starter this season if difficult to dispute. He leads the staff (in his 25 starts) in average game score (54.5) and WHIP (1.18), and finished second in ERA (3.75).

Chicagos first run came on a solo homer in the fourth from Gordon Beckham, his 10th of the season. The White Sox took the lead in the next inning, when Alexei Ramirez doubled home Alejandro De Aza. Toronto had leaped out to a lead in the first inning before an out had been recorded in the game, as Mike McCoy led off with a walk and was doubled home by Eric Thames.

Overall, it was another terrible offensive day for the White Sox, with lost opportunities at every turn. In what ex-Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen would have termed White Sox baseball, the club was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Twice the sacks were stranded packed.

Still, the slim lead was intact heading into the ninth, when Sale came on and stitched two hits and three walks into two runs and a blown save. Sergio Santos and Will Ohman were forced to come on and bail Sale out, leaving the score at 3-2.

But the White Sox failed to rally in the ninth, evening Coopers career slate at 1-1.

Ive got to believe that my managing tenure has come to an end, Cooper smiled, noting he still feels he could manage in the big leagues and that, contrary to popular perception, pitching coaches have brains, too.

We always want to end on something positive, but it didnt happen today, Cooper said. Now weve got to come get it done next year. It wasnt a fun season. Take a couple weeks off, and get back to the routine.

As for whether his gut tells him whether the White Sox will come back strong in 2012, Cooper was direct.

They better come back stronger, otherwise crawl into a ball and let them beat the hell out of you again, he said.

Managerfan

At heart, Cooper is a fan of the game, and now that his stint as manager is finished, he enters the offseason in his usual roleas a fan.

Ill pick up the paper every day and scan the transactions, like I did when I was a kid Cooper said. Ill be looking at the ticker. Im back to being a fan now.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information. CSNChicago staff contributed to this report.

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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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

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.”