Lacking lefties on the South Side

644620.png

Lacking lefties on the South Side

A major void in the White Sox lineup over the past several seasons has been good left-handed hitting; a problem that seemed to be solved entering 2011 with the addition of Adam Dunn.

Instead, for the third year in a row, the White Sox had the fewest home runs hit by lefties of any American League team.

White Sox Home Runs hit by Lefties; Last three seasons

HR AL Rank
2009: 51 14th
2010: 24 14th
2011: 28 14th

The totals of 24 and 28 the past two seasons are two of the three worst totals in the AL from 2000-2011 (2000 Royals also had 28), and Oscar Gamble, Robin Ventura, and Jim Thome remain the only three Sox lefties to slug 30 longballs in a season over the 111-year franchise history.

Furthermore, the Sox were one of only four American League teams to have less than 50 percent of their team plate appearances with the platoon advantage, meaning left-handed hitters facing right-handed pitchers and vice versa.

2011 Worst Percentage of PA in American League with Platoon Advantage

Blue Jays 40.3
Rangers 42.8
White Sox 47.2
Orioles 49.2

The Indians, on the other hand, led the league with 67.7 of their team PA with the platoon advantage. That's a large reason why they were able to squeak out a surprise second-place finish in the Central.

71.5 percent of American League plate appearances were against right-handed pitching in 2011, so finding quality left-handed hitting is certainly a detail not to be overlooked.

Of the 2,187 White Sox plate appearances by lefties in 2011...

711 (32.5) were by Juan Pierre (.657 OPS), and

496 (22.7) were by Adam Dunn (.569 OPS)

A bounceback season by Dunn as well as continued success by Alejandro de Aza (.920 OPS in 171 PA in 2011) can make a huge difference for Ventura's 2012 Sox.

White Sox still reeling after Royals rally for comeback victory

sox_pgl_05-27_640x360_694638147999.jpg

White Sox still reeling after Royals rally for comeback victory

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox can’t seem to stop the bleeding.

The Kansas City Royals inflicted another painful wound on Friday night as they rallied from four runs down to send the White Sox to a 7-5 loss in front of 28,508 at Kauffman Stadium. Eric Hosmer homered and drove in four runs, including a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning to send the White Sox to their 12th loss in 16 games.

Melky Cabrera had a grand slam, and Todd Frazier also homered during a five-run rally that had the White Sox well positioned to win. But the bullpen faltered again as Dan Jennings, Matt Albers and Zach Duke combined to allow three runs in a four-run, seventh-inning Kansas City rally.

“It’s one of those games, not really much to say,” Frazier said. “They just kept clawing back. They came after us (in the seventh) and kept chipping away, and that’s what they do. We gotta find a way to put the fire out, and we couldn’t do it.”

The White Sox had to be in high spirits after the top of the sixth inning.

Not only did they finally crack Royals starter Danny Duffy, who retired the first 16 batters he faced, they broke the game wide open.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings didn’t last very long.

White Sox starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who celebrated his 32nd birthday Friday, gave up an opposite-field solo homer to Hosmer in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 5-2 game. Gonzalez, who retired 16 of 19 after he allowed a pair of singles to start the game, exited after Brett Eibner’s one-out double in the seventh.

Then all hell broke loose as the White Sox used five pitchers to navigate the inning.

Jennings walked Jarrod Dyson, and Albers entered and allowed an infield single to Alcides Escobar to load the bases. Rookie Whit Merrifield followed with a two-run single to make it 5-4. After an umpire review, Escobar — who originally was ruled out — and Merrifield advanced into scoring position when Albers uncorked a wild pitch.

Albers struck out Cain and gave way to Duke, as the White Sox opted to face Hosmer with first base open. Duke jumped ahead 0-1 in the count, but Hosmer, who also had an RBI groundout in the first, dumped a slider off the outside corner into left for a 6-5 lead.

Nate Jones entered and recorded the final out of the seventh. He allowed an insurance run in the eighth.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he preferred to face Hosmer with Duke versus loading the bases for Salvador Perez and calling upon Jones.

“You consider it,” Ventura said. “I mean you load it up, you don’t give Jonesy much to work with there. Dukie has had some good numbers against Hosmer.”

The White Sox had a chance with two on in the eighth against Kelvin Herrera, but he struck out Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton. Wade Davis pitched a scoreless ninth to close it out.

Duffy looked content to extend a recent miserable run by the White Sox offense.

Working on a pitch count of 75 to 80, Duffy’s start looked special for 16 outs.

He overpowered White Sox hitters early, striking out four of the first six batters he faced. Rarely did he go deep into any counts, save for at-bats by Austin Jackson and Abreu, both of which resulted in fly ball outs. And none of the contact Duffy induced was hard, either.

Then they woke up.

Trailing 1-0, Avisail Garcia singled to right with one out, and Dioner Navarro dumped a single into shallow right. Jackson also singled to right to load the bases for Cabrera, who jumped on the first pitch he saw for a grand slam — his first since July 29, 2011, when he played for Kansas City. Frazier gave his team a four-run lead with a 413-foot homer to left, his 15th.

But all it added up to was another deep cut inflicted by the Royals.

“It’s tough,” Albers said. “We’re battling. We’re not giving in. There’s nobody hanging their heads. You’ve got to battle. It’s tough. Long season. It’s never fun going through these stretches, but you can’t let it get you down, can’t let it change the fun part of the game, going after hitters, for me especially. Just get ready for tomorrow and try to get some more outs.”

Injury Report: Kevan Smith back on DL, Jason Heyward dodges a bullet

stl_hayes_talkback_05-26_640x360_693810243786.jpg

Injury Report: Kevan Smith back on DL, Jason Heyward dodges a bullet

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

WHITE SOX

Kevan Smith has had a roller coaster of a month, and it's back on the downfall. On Tuesday, Smith returned to Triple-A Charlotte after missing about a month due to a back injury. But after the game, Smith went back on the DL with an undisclosed injury. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run.

Smith was promoted to the main roster on April 24 to replace catcher Alex Avila, who went on the 15-day DL with a sore hamstring. The following day, Smith suffered a sacroiliac joint dysfunction injury during warm-ups without making his MLB debut.

Nate Jones returned to action last week after missing a few games due to a bruised foot caused by a line drive. Jones made three consecutive appearances from May 21-23. In those games, he pitched a combined 1.2 innings and only allowed one hit while striking out three.

Jake Petricka (right hip impingement) and Daniel Webb (right elbow flexor inflammation) are still on the 15-day disabled list. There's no timetable for their returns. On Saturday, manager Robin Ventura said Petricka was still battling soreness in his hip. 

CUBS

The Cubs dodged a serious injury bullet a week ago when Jason Heyward crashed into the wall in San Francisco. The Cubs outfielder wound up missing just three-plus games and returned to the lineup Tuesday against his old team in St. Louis.

Heyward went just 1-for-10 with a walk and two strikeouts in the final two games against the Cardinals, but his re-insertion into the lineup has helped create a butterfly effect with the Cubs lineup. Heyward did make his one hit count — a two-run double in the Cubs' 9-8 victory Wednesday.

The Cubs got more positive outfield news when Matt Szczur was activated from the disabled list Saturday and has looked completely over his hamstring issue.

Szczur has appeared in every game since his return, going 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. He his now hitting .389 with a 1.089 OPS on the season.

White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

stl_hayes_talkback_05-26_640x360_693810243786.jpg

White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Robin Ventura changed his mind and Chris Sale will now face the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

The White Sox manager announced his decision Friday afternoon, a little less than 24 hours after the club said it would keep its rotation in order following Thursday’s rainout. Rather than face Kansas City, the choice meant that Sale would have been pushed back and faced the New York Mets on Monday instead.

But as Ventura and his coaching staff discussed their options (he had five pages full of potential rotation options on Thursday), ultimately it made the most sense for Sale to face a divisional opponent. Sale is set to face Edinson Volquez in the series finale at 1:15 p.m.

“This is the better play,” Ventura said. “(Sale) didn’t throw very much the other day. We have a division team. A lot of things going into it. Just keep him on schedule and keep him pitching. It’s that simple.

“You play these guys a lot. They’re in your division. You have a chance for (Sale) to still go out there. You look at it with what he did the other day. It made a little more sense to have him go Sunday.”

Sale lost for the first time in 10 starts all season on Tuesday. He threw only 89 pitches against the Cleveland Indians, which has the White Sox comfortable with keeping him on schedule and working on a normal four days of rest instead of needing another.

“He was out of the game quicker than usual last time so we can do it,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We feel good about Sale against anybody. Division team, that might have had something to do with it.”

The White Sox said Jose Quintana would start Monday against the Mets with Mat Latos on Tuesday and Friday’s starter, Miguel Gonzalez, throwing on Wednesday.

No matter what happens in Friday’s game, Ventura said he likely plans to stick with Carlos Rodon against the Royals on Saturday and Sale on Sunday.