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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

There's a lot of buzz around the future of the White Sox.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti joined SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss the team's exciting young prospects and how soon they'll be making their way to the South Side.

Also joining Pat Boyle on this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast are the Tribune's David Haugh, Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and WGN Radio's Sam Panayotovich.

The guys also react to Mike Glennon's recent comments and Kevin White’s uncertain status at OTAs.

Plus, they wonder if Kyle Schwarber has finally found his spot in the Cubs' lineup.

Take a listen to the latest episode below:

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — Jose Quintana looked as if he might be on the way to a second consecutive gem on Wednesday afternoon before it quickly took a turn for the worse.

After three perfect frames, Quintana got hit hard in the middle innings and was forced out of the contest. The Arizona Diamondbacks offense awoke from an early slumber against Quintana to complete a sweep of the White Sox, who fell 8-6 in front of 18,002 at Chase Field. The eight earned runs allowed by Quintana are the most he has yielded in a start in two years and raised his earned-run average to 4.82.

“For us it’s also a tough thing to figure because he has been so great in his career,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s something that we are not accustomed to seeing from him. But he’s a hard worker and we all know how talented he is and we’re all confident in him. I think it’s just a matter of one thing for him to clean it up and to be that Jose Quintana that we know.”

None of what transpired in the first three innings Wednesday offered any indication of what was to come. The 2016 All-Star pitcher picked up where he’d left off on Friday night in Seattle when he combined with David Robertson on a one-hitter.  

Quintana’s offspeed pitchers were diving and Diamondbacks hitters had no chance. He induced checked swing after checked swing and racked up five strikeouts in three innings and even made a smooth defensive play on Gregor Blanco’s bunt-base hit attempt to start the fourth inning with the White Sox leading 2-0.

But then it all went south.

Nick Ahmed doubled to left and red-hot Paul Goldschmidt doubled to deep center to make it a 2-1 game before Chris Owings tied it with an RBI single. Things only got worse for Quintana in the fifth inning when he hit the first hitter Brandon Drury with a 1-2 pitch. Quintana then left a 1-0 fastball over the middle and Jake Lamb didn’t miss the mistake, driving it the opposite way for a two-run homer and a 4-2 lead. Four batters later, Ahmed doubled in a pair and the rout was on. Goldschmidt’s single knocked Quintana from the game.

Owings had a sac fly off Anthony Swarzak to score one inherited run and Drury singled in the other to put Arizona ahead by six.

Quintana allowed eight hits and struck out seven. The eight runs he allowed were the most he’d allowed in a start since the Detroit Tigers tagged him for nine runs on April 19, 2015.

“It’s just execution,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Most times when guys are being hit around, a lot of it has more to do with executing and location. I think it’s more pitches get out over the plate. ... Based on the swings, they were pretty good swings, so I’m assuming they were pitches out over the plate.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

The poor outing raised Quintana’s earned-run average by nearly a point from 3.92. Even though it’s still more than two months until the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline, Quintana’s inconsistent start to the season has also almost certainly harmed his perceived trade value. Not only has Quintana pitched poorly, but shifts in the plans of other clubs could provide contending teams with more trade options. However, with teams still focused on the upcoming draft and the deadline a way off, Quintana has more than enough time to get back on track.

Quintana said he plans to do what he’s always done — discard the tough outing and move on. It’s the same way he has operated since 2012 and it has helped become a highly regarded member of the White Sox.

“Just turn the page and keep going,” Quintana said. “It’s different feeling than last year. But I feel pretty good. Never think in the past. If you have a bad day, just keep going. Keep doing, we doing good in the past. So, just keep doing my things and throw the ball well.”

One player who has continued to stay hot for more than a month is Abreu, who blasted his 100th homer on Tuesday night. For an encore, Abreu matched his career high with four hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning that got the White Sox to within 8-4.

Melky Cabrera had an RBI groundout in the seventh inning and Abreu singled in another to make it an 8-6 game.

But the White Sox got no closer.

Leury Garcia’s solo homer in the second inning gave the White Sox an early lead. Abreu doubled in the fourth and scored on a double play to make it a 2-0 lead.

From April 19 on, Abreu is hitting .347/.404/.677 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances. He’s currently on pace for 36 home runs, which would tie the career high he established in 2014.