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
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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.

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”