Chicago White Sox

Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie

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Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010
11:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO Last night, a muted Juan Pierre described the Chicago White Soxs abominable series-opening loss to the Minnesota Twins as an old-fashioned butt-whipping.

The unassuming speedster then speculated about what was needed in the second game of the series, the first tilt where the White Sox would be looking up at first place in a month.

It doesnt have to be a punch in the mouth runaway win, Pierre said. I dont care if its 1-0. We just gotta get em.

Well, in spite of Savoir Pierres admirable gentility, the White Sox did jump up and punch Minny in the mouth on Wednesday, regaining a share of first place with a 6-1 triumph.

Postgame Wednesday, Pierre had a big smile when reminded that he wasn't asking for a smashmouth win a day earlier: Yeah, but I guess we got one anyway.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, like the veteran Pierre, knows to keep the season in perspective, but was nonetheless relieved with the win.

I didnt want to wake up tomorrow and have to see all the people in Chicago panicking, he said. If you lose the first two of a three-game series, you lose the series. Now, tomorrow, we can fight to win the series.

Carlos Quentin led the romp with a two-run blast to straightaway center in the second and the White Sox pushed across six runs over the first five frames before the Twins countered with a tally of their own.

John Danks proved to be a Twinkie stomper, pitching eight innings of one-run, six-hit, seven-strikeout ball, and stranding six of Minnys finest. He eluded trouble all evening, most spectacularly by allowing leadoff doubles in two of the first four innings yet allowing no Twin to cross home.

What a great performance, great timing, Guillen said of Dankss work. Our coaching staff begged him to go seven, eight innings.

Our coaches are always begging us to go that far, said Danks postgame, with a laugh. There was no added pressure. Going deep in the game was in the back of my mind, but thats the case all of the time.

While Danks was frank in saying he hates to pitch against the Twins, dont tell that to the guys down the hall.

Danks gets off the hook by himself, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. You dont get many opportunities, and when you get them, you have to make a swing on the ball. He just ate us up tonight.

A moment of controversy in this combustible rivalry came in the fifth, when Twins starter Glen Perkins hit Quentin with a pitch for the second time since his dinger. While neither HBP did so much as blush the skin of Hulque Incredible, that quickly became beside the point as home plate umpire Mike DiMuro warned both benches, making retribution moot.

Guillen argued with vociferous logic that his Chicago-9 did nothing to merit such a knuckle rap, as Gardenhire listened in with bemused contentment over another advantage his Twins gained simply by showing up and grinding.

Everything points to Perkins hitting Quentin on purpose, Guillen said. I know 100 percent it didnt come from Gardy. But they kicked our butts yesterday and we didnt come close to beaning any of their hitters.

The first HBP was a 2-2 slider. The second one, I didnt want to leave it out over the plate where Quentin could hit it, Perkins said. It was a bad situation to hit a guy. Its unfortunate that happened. I was trying to make a pitch and yanked it a little bit.

Guillen, with a couple of rather infamous exceptions, refuses to retaliate for his own hit batsmen. And his pitching staff by and large echoes such strategic thinking.

Theres some point to playing out for revenge, said reliever Sergio Santos, who pitched a scoreless ninth. But the best revenge is playing in October.

Another surprise to come out of the game was just how uncharacteristically sloppy the Twins were, committing two errors and going just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

We made a lot of mistakes out there and cost us a lot of runs, Gardenhire said. We shot ourselves in the foot today and didnt perform very well.

They made mistakes, and we made em pay, said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.

Danks, who felt he had some of the nastiest stuff hes had all season even if his command wasnt at its peak, also admitted there was something a little extra attached to this game.

I had a little more adrenaline tonight, he said. We didnt want to dig ourselves too big a hole. We didnt like how the game went last night, but weve had a pretty short memory on this team, and we proved that tonight.

Some games, you just want to get them over with, for sure, Santos said in reference to Tuesdays blowout. But thats when you want a new day to go out and put your best game together. Thats what we did tonight.

Now on to a marquee pitching matchup of Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano in the series finale on Thursday, and reclaiming sole possession of first.

This game means that at worst, were a game back at series end, Beckham said. But were thinking about finishing things up in first.

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

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

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USA TODAY

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

HOUSTON -- Don’t think the White Sox front office isn’t enjoying every second of Yoan Moncada’s tear.

Everyone can breathe a little easier knowing there are fewer questions for baseball’s top prospect to answer headed into 2018. Pleased as they’d been with Moncada’s patient plate approach, the club desired a breakthrough before Oct. 2 for the confidence boost it would provide him alone. Moncada continued a torrid run on Wednesday night that should have him bristling with poise when he arrives in Glendale, Ariz. next February. He homered as the White Sox fell 4-3 to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“We’ve been looking for him to continue to try and make adjustments,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There was probably a point there where people were a little concerned. Truthfully, when you see some of the talent these kids have, you recognize that their skillset is going to play up, it’s just a matter of getting the repetition.”

The White Sox have been impressed with Moncada’s improved awareness as he gains more experience.

One area in which Moncada has made the most gains is pitch recognition. The book has been that second baseman has had trouble with offspeed since he arrived in 2016, hitting .154 against sliders and .238 against curveballs entering Wednesday, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

But Moncada is trending upward. The first-pitch slider from Astros starter Brad Peacock that Moncada ripped for a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fourth inning was his fifth hit of the trip on a slider or curveball in 11 at-bats. On the trip, Moncada -- who has 189 plate appearances this season -- is hitting .415/.477/.683 with three homers, eight RBIs and 12 runs in 41 plate appearances.

[MORE: Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

Given Moncada’s struggles in a brief 2016 tryout with the Boston Red Sox, having success is certainly helpful as he won’t head into another offseason wondering when it might happen for him. Moncada doesn’t compare the two situations because of playing time -- he was limited to 20 plate appearances over a month in 2016. But he agrees his recent play is good for the psyche.

“It’s important for my confidence, especially thinking about next year,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “With this run, I have been able to have more confidence and believe in myself and my talent, and I think that’s something I can carry into next season.”

“This offseason is going to be different because I’ve been able to play almost every day. I have more confidence in myself. I know the game better. Last season I had an opportunity to be at this level a little bit, but it wasn’t the same. This year is the opposite because I’ve been playing a lot and have been able to handle good and bad stretches at this level.”

While a reduction in strikeout-rate is still needed to be more effective, Moncada has begun to establish himself as a major league hitter. It’s exactly how teammate and mentor Jose Abreu hoped Moncada would spend his time this season.

“He has to get to know a lot of things at this level,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The game, the pitchers, the culture here -- there’s a lot of little things he has to get to know here. The way you can work through it is give your best every day and try to learn as much as you can and try to use all your knowledge and to pool your knowledge on each play in the game. That’s the only way you can get results and you can build on those results and this experience for the future. I think he’s finally doing it and that’s important for him and for us thinking of the next season and beyond.”

Renteria not only likes the pitch recognition but the way that Moncada has tried to hit through the shift several times against Houston. Though the White Sox never wavered, they’re certainly happy to see Moncada produce the way they thought he eventually would.

“He’s starting to slow it down a little more,” Renteria said. “He’s starting to see more of the landscape and making adjustments in general. It’s been a good run for him. We thought he would show signs of growth at the end of the season and he’s doing that.”

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

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USA TODAY

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

This one may sting a bit, White Sox fans.  

On Wednesday evening, former White Sox ace Chris Sale accomplished a feat that no other American League pitcher has since 1999. The current Red Sox left-hander whiffed his 300th batter of the season, becoming the first A.L. hurler since Pedro Martinez to do so. 

Sale reached the impressive milestone in a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem. Vintage. 

Overall on the season, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with opponents hitting a mere .203 against him. Before his postseason debut in October, Sale has a shot at leading two franchises in season strikeout totals: 

The consolation on the South Side is that the prized prospect acquired in the Sale blockbuster had a pretty nice night himself. Yoan Moncada drilled a two-run blast in Houston, his seventh since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. 

The great trade debate wages on.