Floyd hurls another gem as Sox rally late for win

229438.jpg

Floyd hurls another gem as Sox rally late for win

Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010
Updated 10:44 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
BALTIMORE He jogged right into this joke, so no scolds for low blows: Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski definitively answered the question of whether he could clap his hands and run the bases at the same time on his game-tying liner to the right-field corner on Saturday night.

Cheering his hit as he eased into an advance to third base after a game-tying double, Pierzynski suffered one of his less dignified moments on a baseball diamond, caught off-guard by a quick relay throw, failing to slide and turning his ankle while slipping on the slick sack. (The official postgame diagnosis from trainer Herm Schneider was a tweaked left ankle, something Pierzynski is confident he could have finished the game with and would be able to play on tomorrow.) Ramon Castro came on to pinch-run and replace the feisty backstop behind the plate.

No, said manager Ozzie Guillen when asked whether Pierzynskis move was something the catcher learned during Ozzieball drills in spring training. Thats why I took awhile to come out of the dugout. I was like, What was that?

It happened, but we won the game, and its good, said Pierzynski, who was walking freely around the clubhouse and had shed the ice bag to reduce swelling by games end.

But Pierzynski didnt just provide the blooper-reel technicians fodder into the fall, but a lift that Chicagos struggling offense desperately needed, as his wild romp around the bases spurred a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Ironically, the hit came immediately after a missed ball-four call that had the Chicago bench up in arms.

That was the break we needed, said Juan Pierre, who would single and score the eventual winning run in the next inning. Weve ran into some good pitching, and once we saw A.J. get his hit, there was some relief that we could come back and win this game.

Pierzynski also provided Gavin Floyd with some rare run support, and instead of throwing just long enough to earn a no-decision or hard-luck loss, the scintillating righty took home the win in front of a home crowd that included 20 family members and friends with seven innings of six-hit, two-run, five-strikeout ball. The start marked just the second time since June 2 that Floyd had been flogged for as many as two earned runs.

At first, I thought maybe it was going to be a short one, Floyd said after allowing two runs in the first three innings, uncharacteristic in a two-month stretch (12 starts) thats now seen him sport a 6-2 record with a 1.19 ERA and .205 batting average against. But its nice to come out on top in a close one, whether Im getting the W or not.

I was kind of worried early, Guillen agreed. We werent swinging the bat good and theyve been throwing the ball very good against us, but Im glad we scored some runs for Gavin. Every time he throws the ball well, we dont score any runs for him. Today we did, and he should be very happy.

The winning rally started after Pierzynskis game-tying shot, Pierre going the other way with a leadoff single in the eighth that extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 games. After a pantomime sacrifice bunt by Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios tapped a single to center, scoring Pierre, who luckily for the Sox sprints a tad faster and significantly more steadfast than Pierzynski while running the bases and clapping.

When Alexanybodytries to pull the ball, he tries to do too much, Guillen said of Rios, who has suffered a slump that has seen his average fall below .299 for the first time since May 23. I dont want Alex to try to hit another 20 or 30 home runs, just get the big RBIs. We dont need anybody to try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. If they do, good. But we can score different ways.

After an Adam Jones blastthe first homer off of Floyd in more than 77 inningsand an RBI single by Ty Wigginton that put the Os up a deuce, Carlos Quentin cut the Baltimore lead with a massive blow to dead center in the fourth.

Gordon Beckham supplied an insurance run in the top of the ninth, driving home Alexei Ramirez.

J.J. Putz subbed for Bobby Jenkswho is fighting a slump and some back soreness, and has been a victim of some horrible stumbles in the past vs. Baltimoreto earn his third save in four tries.

It was another great game, just like last night, Putz said. Thats kind of the luxury we have out there, whenever Bobby needs a blow, we can kind of mix and match the way we want to.

It was another all-in rally with a multitude of heroes, but this game did turn out unique in that the games main hero was also the butt of the joke.

I was joking, I finally did something to help around here and I get hurt, Pierzynski said.

Such baserunning isnt recommended, but clutch hitting to snap the White Sox out of an offensive funk? The team will take that, any time.

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

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”