Floyd's brilliance gives Sox series win over Rays

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Floyd's brilliance gives Sox series win over Rays

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 3:24 p.m. Updated: 5:25 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGOApril hasnt been the kindest month to Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd.

While hes had an occasional flash of greatness early, historically, the opening month of the season has been Floyds hardest-hit. Choose your measure over his 25 career games in the opening montha mere 1.27 KBB, a .360 OPB, .463 SLG, 118 OPS, 6.24 ERA, or 1.61 WHIPApril and Floyd arent close friends.

That is, until todays series finale vs. the Tamp Bay Rays, where Floyd spun simply his most spectacular April game yetand that includes a 2008 one-hitter vs. the Detroit Tigers. With eight innings pitched, eight strikeouts against four hits and a walk in earning the 6-1 win, Floyds first of the year, the young righthander was simply spectacular.

Watch: Ozzie on Floyd's brilliance

Its the best he threw the ball in a while, a playful White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The last outing, he struggled in the first couple of innings. Then after that, he was greatall the way through today. He was aggressive, threw strikes, and his breaking ball was working. He kept the ball down and thats the key.

Floyd, with his customary compaction, boiled it down: You want to throw strikes, and just attack and try to get quick outs.

Using Bill James game score measure (which objectively adds points for things like strikeouts and outs recorded, subtracts for hits and runs), Floyd turned in an 79 on Sundaywhich is a significant uptick on his prior high, a 76 set back with that one-hitter on April 12, 2008.

Floyd is as straightforward a hurler as they come and is unlikely to have any use for sabermetrics, but undoubtedly his strong start will spur him through the rest of his cruelest month.

In support of Floyd was the Captain, Paul Konerko, who tapped out two longballs to carry the White Sox to a 6-1 win and helped spur the White Sox to a quick 5-0 lead through three.

But just because a pitcher is handed a win on a platter doesnt mean its easy for him to execute it, says the King.

Gavin was great but just because we gave him some early runs doesnt mean its easy, Konerko said. They have a team that likes to swing the bat, so when you have a lead of four or five runs it can turn really quick. So obviously Gavin was making quality pitches because they were still swinging the bat and he was keeping them from making good contact.

The White Sox have rocked their way through the first nine games of the season, piling up a 6-3 record that was one Friday ninth from 7-2. The club is batting .307, with a rowdy .485 slugging percentage and tidy .367 on-base.

Watch: Beckham says Floyd was awesome

The thing that comes out of today is were having fun out there, said Gordon Beckham, who homered in the Chicago 9s second at-bat. Obviously, we lost so many games last year early, it was miserable to come to the park. We show up to the park now and were excited to play, and were playing well. Everybodys swinging the bat well and the pitchings been great. Its a great starthow many games have we played? Nine. Well, thats good.

Konerko cited Beckham, along with leadoff man Juan Pierre (both of whom got off to insipid starts in 2010), as the stars of the 6-3 start.

The two guys at the top of the lineup, if I had to pick one thing, that would be it, he said. Right from the word go this year, theyve been getting on base, having good at-bats, and making it tough on the other team. That makes it easier for us guys in the middle, because when you get guys out there and its happening and you can tell theyre feeling good, you dont put a bunch of pressure on yourself in any one given situation Right from the get-go in Cleveland they got it going, and havent stopped yet.

PK came up big, Guillen said. The base hit by A.J. Pierzynski, pushing the lead to 5-0 with two outs was huge. It gave the team a lift. We have been playing good and swinging the bat good. Hopefully we can carry on.

How the rotation turns

It was the ballyhooed White Sox rotation that took the blame for the teams slow start, scuttling any real hope of a playoff berth. This year, the five hurlers seem to have gotten the message.

I think so, Guillen said. Its a nice competition, especially every time I start with Mark Buehrle. Everybody kind of struggled early, but they settled down and did a tremendous job. The starting rotation has been great. Thats the reason our bullpen is doing what they are doing right nowthe rotation has been throwing the ball very well. We expect that. We have good arms out there.

Floyd, the final starter of the core four to get his second start of the season, agrees.

Watch: Floyd knew he had to go out and do his job

Compared to last year, I guess its nicewe got off to a real good start in Cleveland and were just kind of rolling with it. Anytime you win a couple games, you feel good. You want to go out there, theres definitely momentum, and you push each other. We definitely feel they put a real good club together and everybody in the clubhouse thinks that, so I think we can do great things.

Long live the King
With his clouts in the first and fifth, Konerko not only helped up his offensive splits on the young season to .400.463.686 but notched his 28th career multihomer game. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games (dating to the last game of 2010).
Watch: Konerko talks about his strong start

I felt good today, the Captain said. Ive been hitting some balls hard, but hooking the ball and kind of getting around some pitches that normally I would get up in the air and drive with some carry. I did that today.

Interestingly, Konerkos best offensive output of the season wasnt shaping up that way.

I really wasnt feeling good before the game, he said. Hitting coach Greg Walker actually grabbed me and gave me something in the cage. I have to give him some credit because before the game I didnt have a good feel. I was kind of a mess and he kind of gave me a tip and it seemed to click.

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

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

Austin Jackson and Matt Davidson are officially done for the season.

Meanwhile, the White Sox still remain hopeful that Brett Lawrie is on the mend after a second MRI.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday that Jackson, who had surgery June 10 to repair a medial meniscus tear in left knee, and Davidson, who had surgery after he fractured his right foot, won’t return this season.

“Austin is progressing, but it unfortunately it’s been a slow pace,” Hahn said. “He has not taken baseball activities. I wouldn’t expect him back this season.”

Jackson hit .254/.318/.343 with 18 RBIs in 203 plate appearances before he suffered the injury.

At the time of Jackson’s injury, Hahn didn’t think it would end his season. But, Hahn did say it would take at least six weeks before they could re-evaluate Jackson’s knee post-surgery and get a better determination of when he might return. Jackson’s re-evaluation was pushed back a few days from the six-week mark and the White Sox made it clear they weren’t optimistic about him returning.

Davidson went 1-for-2 with an RBI before he broke his foot running the bases in his first game of the season.

“(I) would not expect (Davidson) either. It was a pretty bad fracture. It’s progressing and he’s hitting the early milestones. There just isn’t enough time for either of those two.”

Lawrie, who has been on the disabled list since July 22, had a second MRI earlier this week and is being treated, Hahn said.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Manager Robin Ventura has been adamant all along that Lawrie’s injury was tricky to diagnose. What began as a strained hamstring and later was thought to be a quad injury has been reclassified as a knee and calf issue. Hahn said the MRI showed the area is structurally sound.

“He received some medicine in the joint there,” Hahn said. “We’re let that work for a couple of days and we’ll ramp up the activity and see how it goes. No specific time frame.”

Miguel Gonzalez will participate in one more bullpen — possibly a simulated game — before he starts a rehab assignment, Ventura said. Gonzalez is on the DL with a strained right groin.

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.

“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”

The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.

In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.

He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.

Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.

Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.

Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.

He walked none and struck out six.

“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.

Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.

Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.

“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”