Chicago White Sox

Buehrle bounces back; last Sox start up next?

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Buehrle bounces back; last Sox start up next?

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Posted: 9:01 p.m. Updated: 10:25 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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VIDEO: Ozzie hopes Buehrle isn't at the end

CLEVELAND When it comes to playing the Cleveland Indians, for much of 2011 the darlings of the American League, the Chicago White Sox didnt get the memo about being scared of em.

Another comeback victory and another heavy dose of runs in the late innings to pair with Tuesday nights nightcap triumph have made it 11 wins in 17 games so far this season, including six of eight in Cleveland.

Mark Buehrle came within five outs of becoming the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich to record at least 200 innings in 11 straight seasons. The veteran earned the win after six innings, as the White Sox started their rally in the seventh.

Buehrle threw greathe needed that, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The last couple of games, maybe three, it was very rough for him. Having that type of game he had today, he bounced back very well. He had a little bit of team support out there, but thats the Buehrle we see every time.

I felt good, Buehrle said of leaving after six. Knowing the situation in the game, the pitch count around 100 97, it was a long inning, we scored some runs and turned it over to the bullpen, and theyve done a good job all year. I was kind of walking out to go back there for the seventh and I was asking if they want me out. They were saying hold on to make sure Jesse Crain was ready.

Indeed, the win almost didnt happen. Heading into the seventh, Chicago trailed 2-1, but a seven-run eruption in the next two frames turned squeaker into laugher. The lead turned on three runs, one on a Brent Morel double, two more on a two-out Alejandro De Aza single.

A big hit, two-out base hit was huge, Guillen said. It meant I didnt worry about bringing Buehrle back to earn the win or going to the bullpen. It was kind of a crazy mood in the dugoutafter De Aza got that hit, everybody felt a little better, because we wanted Buehrle to win that game. This kid De Aza, whew, right now hes the best player we have overall, fielding, running, big hits for us, stealing basses. Hes been doing everything for us. Hes been outstanding.

READ: White Sox don't protect one another?

De Aza, reticient to take much credit-certainly not as team MVP, was typically modest: Im just trying to put the ball in play, and hopefully something could happen I feel good, because Im helping the team with the little things that I can but its never enough. Im just trying to keep grinding and taking what they give me.

And with a 4-2 lead in the eighth, the White Sox clubbed three homerssolo shots from Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, a two-run blast from Morel (his seventh of September), pushing the lead to 8-2.

The Wahoos extended the game with two tallies in their eighth, as neither Jason Frasor nor Will Ohman seemed content to hurl with a large lead. Sergio Santos entered and executed a perfect ninth to close out the win.

The win, and Buehrles impending milestone, was cause for reflection.

We looked pretty good on Opening Day winning at Progressive Field, 15-10, Buehrle said. I thought wed win every game, but thats why you play 162 games. Guys get injured, go through struggles, guys get hot. Look at the way Cleveland startedthey looked like they were going to win the World Series and they kind of struggled. Thats why you play every game and cant go off just the first couple of weeks.

These guys right now are having good at-bats, Guillen said of the recent offensive rallies. Rios is swinging the bat good. Even Adam Dunn is swinging the bat better. Thats what I expected all season long, to have those games, and unfortunately it didnt happen. At least theyve shown they continue to play hard. Thats something you like from the players, to go out there for nine innings and play your best.

A sort of homecoming

With the nearness of his milestone of 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings pitched for 11 straight seasons, Buehrle took time to contemplate the possible finale to his White Sox career, his start next Tuesday vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.
Mark Buehrle says he will try not getting too emotional, but his start Tuesday night vs. the Toronto Blue Jays could be his last as a White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. (US PRESSWIRE)
Im trying to tell myself not to get too emotional, Buehrle said. When the day gets here, it might be a little harder, but this is all Ive known for 12-13 years of my life. So going into it, I still think Ill come back because, again, every spring training Ive gone to the same spot, youre ready to go with the same team. Deep down inside, thats all Im looking at. You try to tell yourself not to be emotional or, Hey, theres a chance youre coming back, but theres the chance youre not coming back, either.

Buehrle was fired up about righting his recent slump, but wasnt upset over falling short of the 7 23 innings he needed to reach 200.

Even if I had done it here, Im still making that start at home, Buehrle said. That said hopefully I dont go out there for 1 23 innings and take a line drive off my head and have to come out. Id like to get to 200 but if something happens and I dont, its not the end of the world.

Although hes steering himself away from getting too emotional, Buehrle has already envisioned the type of reception White Sox fans will give him, having witnessed the faithful seeing off Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski received a year ago.

Coop said go out there and go five, possibly, then pull me and do the whole fan thing, he said. Im not looking at it as my last start. Even though theres the possibility of it being my last start is really good, Im going out there like Im coming back next year and not trying to make a big deal of it.

It happened to us last year with PK and A.J., and we got them back, Guillen said. I dont know whats the difference. I will treat it like its the last game for the White Sox, the same way I did it for A.J. and the same way I did it for PK, I will treat it the same way. If he comes back, good. It will be special. White Sox fans should go out there and support him and get behind him the way they always did.

Regardless of what happens, coming back or not, this kid he means a lot to the White Sox organization. This guy, when you talk about pitching in a White Sox uniform, the first name that comes out is this one. A lot of people forget about Billy Pierce and all those guys in the past, even Billy is still with us all the time, the first name that comes up is Mark Buehrle. I think the least they can do for him is to show up and the ballpark and support him.

Without a doubt, Buehrle feels that the best place for him is in Chicago. Hes just not sure if the White Sox feel the same way.

It all depends on what the White Sox want to do, Buerhle said. They spent a lot of money this year and we didnt do a good job of getting where we wanted to get. It all depends on what they want to do. If they want to go young and got some guys in the bullpen they want to start, then theyll go that route. But its on them.

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

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

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USA TODAY

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

Put the shift on against Nicky Delmonico and he’s going to drop down a bunt to beat you.

The White Sox rookie has tried his solution for shift-happy defenses already three times this season and it’s worked in each instance.

And while its undoubtedly the long ball -- he’s hit five home runs -- that has caught everyone’s attention during the White Sox rookie’s unbelievable start, don’t overlook the little things, especially Delmonico’s ability to bunt for a hit and the impact it’s had on opposing defenses.

Whenever opponents try to employ a shift, and they’ve done it more often this season, Delmonico has shown no fear in trying to beat them with a bunt down the third-base line.

He bunted for a single in Sunday’s win when he reached base three times to bring his on-base percentage to .451 through 71 plate appearances. There’s no question that forcing defenses to play him straight up is partly responsible for Delmonico reaching base safely in 15 of 17 games to start his major league career.

“It opens up a hole,” Delmonico said. “There’s been a lot of times in Charlotte where you hit a hard ground ball through the four hole and think it’s a hit, but then there’s a guy deep in right field. You want those (to be hits). Any time you can take advantage of bunting and show you can bunt they’ll move out of the shift.”

Take a look at Delmonico’s spray chart and it’ll tell you he’s pull-happy. He’s pulled 47.9 percent of all balls put in play since reaching the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. Were he to be qualified for a batting title, Delmonico would currently be 15th in pull percentage in baseball, easily within range of leader Salvador Perez’s 54.6 percent.

Either way, Delmonico’s spray chart is the type that often leads defenses to load up three gloves on the right side of the infield no matter the count (teams tend to shift to a hitter’s pull side most often with two strikes).

But Delmonico has made them think twice --- at least early in the count.

“Any time I see them all over that’s when it’s the best time to lay one down,” Delmonico said. “You’ve just got to get it past the pitcher and fair.”

You also have to catch the attention of advance scouts. Based on the way he’s been defended so far, hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks opponents have taken notice of Delmonico’s skills.

“It’s got to be in their notes,” Steverson said. “It’s got to be in their data: “This guy will bunt.” Even just the words “he will bunt” keeps somebody close for a minute before they move to another spot. If you have none, then they don’t have to do nothing.

“They want to play him in the full shift. That’s what they did to him from the get-go. He dropped two bunts down on them and said ‘Ok.’ ”

Delmonico said he’s seen an increased number of shifts since reached Triple-A two years ago.

“But it was all different kinds of shifts,” Delmonico said. “Very rarely I would see them all over until two strikes.”

Delmonico works on bunting the same as anyone else. There’s the round he takes each day at the start of batting practice each day. And every few weeks or so, Charlotte brought out the pitching machine.

But what may make him standout are his confidence and conviction. While Delmonico realizes he may be taking the potential for extra bases out of his hands for one at-bat, he’s knows he’s still giving himself a chance to jumpstart a rally and he’s creating a world of opportunities for the rest of his trips to the plate.

“I feel like they’re pretty good,” Delmonico said. “I’ve worked a lot on it the last two years because I know eventually they will shift and to get that hole open you’ve got to prove to them that you will bunt.

“Overall it helps you out and two, it gives you a chance to get on base and get going. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

On this week's Honda Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda dealers, Bill Melton and Chuck Garfien talk about the upcoming starts for young pitchers Carson Fulmer and Lucas Giolito.

With the White Sox rebuild sucking up all the attention from fans of the team this year, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer have been names in any conversation about the future of the team.

Fulmer, the first-round pick of the White Sox in 2015, made his big league debut with the White Sox last year, but it was as a reliever. This time Fulmer will get the start in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Twins.

In eight relief appearances with the White Sox last season, he walked seven in 11 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and an 8.49 ERA. This season Fulmer has returned to starting with Triple-A Charlotte and has a 5.61 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 63 walks in 122 innings.

"I'd like to see Carson Fulmer throw more strikes," Melton said. "Maybe that's all I want to see because I remember when he was here last year he had a tough time coming out of the pen because he was a starter and he wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. So I think the key for me to watch him is, just forget about guys getting hits or hitting balls out of the park, I want to see if he's getting it over the plate, how many times he's ahead of the hitters."

Giolito will make his White Sox debut on Tuesday. Like Fulmer, the 23-year-old has some major league experience. Giolito pitched 21 1/3 innings in four starts and two relief appearances last year with the Nationals. He posted a 6.75 ERA with 11 strikeouts and 12 walks.

The White Sox acquired Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade in the offseason and he hasn't had the smoothest of seasons as a teammate of Fulmer's in Charlotte. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a 4.48 ERA with 134 strikeouts and 59 walks in 128 2/3 innings for the Knights.

Those numbers aren't going to excite fans, but he has been pitching better lately. In his last five starts, Giolito has a 1.71 ERA (six earned runs in 31 2/3 innings) with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks.

"This is a tall guy, he's a velocity guy, he's a strikeout guy so I'm going to be watching that," Melton said. "And again, nerves. There's nothing wrong with that. First time in front of a Chicago fan base and stuff like that. But a guy that big, I'm more interested in seeing how his breaking ball is. If he starts bouncing it in the dirt, a little nervous. He's got such a good one. I want to see him get ahead of the hitters and see how he puts them away."

Watch the video above to see Garfien and Melton talk about the two White Sox pitching prospects.