Chicago White Sox

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.

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.