The five best pitching duels of 2011 for the Sox

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The five best pitching duels of 2011 for the Sox

Bill James put together his list of the top 100 pitching duels of 2011, using four general criteria: "low-scoring game, quality pitchers on the mound, pitchers pitch well, and something is at stake." The White Sox made the list just once, with Philip Humber's July 2 duel with Matt Garza coming in at No. 55.

Of course, because the White Sox scuffled through 2011, most of their games didn't have something at stake. There's one game I think James missed, being Jake Peavy's 1-0 showdown against Justin Masterson May 18 in his first home start since July of 2010.

But with the lack of Sox games on the list in mind, here are the best pitching duels involving the Sox from 2011, using James' general criteria minus the "something at stake" stipulation.

1. May 18, White Sox vs. Indians: Jake Peavy vs. Justin Masterson (1-0)

The Sox struck early against Masterson, as Adam Dunn hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Juan Pierre in the first inning. That lone run proved to be enough for Peavy, who allowed just three hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in a complete game effort. Masterson settled down -- with the aid of two strike-him-out-throw-him-out double plays -- and went the distance, allowing five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. That Peavy threw a complete game was a little worrisome at the time, as 111 pitches in sub-50-degree weather didn't seem like a good idea for a pitcher coming off a unique injury. But, in the short-term, Peavy wasn't worse off for it.

2. July 2, White Sox @ Cubs: Philip Humber vs. Matt Garza (1-0)

Garza retired 14 White Sox in a row between walking Brent Morel in the first and Gordon Beckham in the sixth, but Humber matched him by keeping the Cubs off the board thanks to inducing three double plays. But that sixth-inning walk to Beckham led to the lone run of the game scoring, as Beckham advanced to second on a bunt by Humber, third on a wild pitch by Garza and scored on a Juan Pierre single. Humber staved off a Cubs rally in the sixth and finished the seventh before giving way to Matt Thornton for a six-out save.

3. May 3, White Sox vs. Twins: Edwin Jackson vs. Fransico Liriano (1-0)

Yeah, this is the no-hitter game. Liriano actually pitched pretty poorly in it, walking six with only two strikeouts. But it gets placed on the No. 3 spot because of the effort given by Jackson, who threw eight innings, allowing one run on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk. The lone run came on a Jason Kubel (who else) homer. Jackson deserves a lot of credit for battling to keep the hapless Sox in the game, even if Minnesota trotted out a poor lineup that day.

4. July 20, White Sox @ Royals: John Danks vs. Bruce Chen (2-1, 11)

Few White Sox pitchers were able to match the pitching dynamo that was Bruce Chen last season, but in this game, Danks did. Chen threw eight innings of run-run ball, while Danks tossed seven shutout innings before being pulled in favor of Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain in the eighth, who combined to let in the game-tying run. But the real battle was taken into extra innings by Chris Sale, who threw two scoreless innings against Joakim Soria and Aaron Crow before running out of gas in the 11th and turning the ball over to Sergio Santos, who let in the game-winning run (which was charged to Sale).

5. June 16, White Sox @ Twins: Mark Buehrle vs. Nick Blackburn (1-0)

Like many of these games, this was one in which Buehrle made one mistake -- a second-inning homer to Michael Cuddyer -- while the Sox offense flailed away at a pitcher of questionable talent. Nick Blackburn allowed seven hits and one walk with one strikeout, but the Sox couldn't push a run home despite having a few opportunities with runners in scoring position.

Afterthought: In quite a few instances, the White Sox offense just didn't show up (or was stuck in Charlotte), so trying to rank these games wasn't too easy. Leave any qualms or suggestions in the comments.

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

Lucas Giolito got the “click” he was looking for on Thursday night and it resulted in a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte.

Currently the No. 2-rated White Sox prospect, Giolito has struggled so far this season at Charlotte. He’s 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts in 46 1/3 innings.

While he’s struck out 43 hitters, Giolito has also walked 25. But it all came together for the tall right-hander on Thursday when he threw an 87-pitch no-no against the Syracuse Chiefs.

“It was special,” Giolito said on a conference call on Friday. “Just the way the year has gone, it didn't start the way I wanted it to, the numbers haven't been great. So it's great to have a no-hitter under my belt, my first professional one. Just take that and work from there. I'm just going to keep working on the things I've been working on the past few weeks and hopefully string a few good ones together.”

Rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors before the 2016 season, Giolito’s profile has slipped some because of performance. The top name included from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, Giolito has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches and fastball at times. Earlier this month, Giolito described his performance as “atrocious,” while remaining optimistic that his fortunes could change just like clicking on a light switch.

Giolito said he felt confident on the mound Thursday and it translated.

“I did a lot better job of keeping the fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate,” Giolito said. “I was able to get the ball inside to lefties pretty well, maybe got a few jam shots some pop outs here and there and then I had my two-seamer working as well. It was just a pretty solid day as far as throwing the fastball.”

Pleased as he is, Giolito is striving to be better. He pointed at his three walks as an area he’d like to improve upon. But he’s also happy with how it all worked on Thursday.

“There's always still work to do,” Giolito said. “I walked three batters and that is not something I want to be doing. The walk numbers are a little too high for my liking. There's still plenty to work on, but everything felt pretty solid last night. I felt like I repeated my delivery well, I executed more pitches. Especially when I'd fall behind in the count I'd execute quality pitches and you can get yourself out of bad situations doing that.”

The Knights made two roster moves on Friday -- Yoan Moncada was activated off the seven-day disabled list and Ryan Raburn was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

Dylan Covey is already the sixth White Sox pitcher to be placed on the 10-day disabled list this season. The club announced Friday that Covey is headed to the DL just as one of the pitchers already there, James Shields, took another step forward in his rehab.

Shields threw his second bullpen in three days on Friday and hopes to begin a minor-league rehab assignment after he throws a three-inning, game-situation-like bullpen on Monday.

The White Sox promoted reliever Juan Minaya to take Covey’s spot on the 25-man roster. They also announced Tyler Danish would be the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader and manager Rick Renteria said Covey’s scheduled start Monday would be filled internally. Reliever David Holmberg could make the start.

“I’m full bore,” Shields said. “Everything is working really well and everything feels good. Ready to rock and roll.

“It’s been pretty tough for me. I’m pretty anxious. I want to be out there and help my team win. But at the end of the day I have to stick to the process. You know the team was really doing good up until this last road trip. Now we need to pick it back up. I’m looking forward to coming back and helping the squad out.”

Covey isn’t surprised he landed on the DL.

He missed much of the 2016 season with a left oblique strain and knew exactly what he was experiencing when he felt the tug on Tuesday. But Covey remembers the early portion of last year’s injury and thinks he’s in better shape now.

“Well, my first thought was, ‘Oh, no. I did it again,’” Covey said. “It’s kind of looking like it might not be nearly as bad as it was last year. So I’m staying optimistic and taking it day by day.”

“I think if I tried to push it another pitch like I did last year, it could have maybe worsened the situation. So I’m glad I was able to hold back a little bit.”

Minaya -- who pitched in 11 games for the 2016 White Sox -- missed roughly five weeks with an abdominal tear. Though he wanted to race back (he struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings this spring), Minaya knew he had to be practical about his rehab. Once healthy, Minaya pitched well at Triple-A Charlotte, where he posted a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.

“I took a little while but we’re going through the process and we have to be patient and do everything they say to get healthy,” Minaya said. “We have to do the right thing to be healthy.”

“I feel very happy with myself because I’m working to get back here and I see the progress and I feel very happy.”

Minaya gives the White Sox nine relievers on their 13-man staff. That amount would make it much easier for the team to fill Covey’s first turn in the rotation with a bullpen game on Monday. A career starter who only began to pitch in relief this season, Holmberg could give the White Sox several innings to start. While Renteria won’t name any candidates for the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, he did suggest it would be an internal candidate.

“We’ll probably end up filling with one of our own guys,” Renteria said.