Chicago White Sox

Garcia wins final start, reaches a dozen in 2010

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Garcia wins final start, reaches a dozen in 2010

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
Updated 11:41 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Leading off the second inning for the Boston Red Sox, noted slugger David Big Papi Ortiz laid down a bunt, attempting a single. Known more for clearing the table than setting it out, possibly even unable to outdash noted Chicago White Sox speedster Paul Konerko, the genial giant was retired by some two dozen steps on his sneak attack on the White Sox infield.

Later, Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski chided Ortiz, his former Minnesota Twins teammate, for his attempt at smallball, which earned him sunflower seeds tossed in derision from the Bosox bench.

Just a week or two ago, both Soxes were engaged in high-stakes, do-or-die fights for their playoff lives, but with both teams now eliminated from the postseason, tension gave way to relaxed play when the two teams tangled on Wednesday night.

Long after the seed wars, the White Sox used a three-run seventh to vanquish the Red Sox, 5-2. Freddy Garcia was outstanding in his final start for Chicago, hurling seven-plus innings of four-hit, two-run ball and registering his 18th quality start of the season, a percentage trailing only John Danks on the vaunted White Sox staff.

I wanted to finish strong, like I said before, show them here and everybody else I still can pitch, said Garcia, who raised his season record to 12-6 and his career mark vs. Boston to 8-2. I missed two starts with my back, but Im battling. Ive always been that way. I try to do my job, and today that was essential.

I said in spring training that if Freddys healthy, hes going to produce, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Hes been doing that all his career. He was a very good pitcher before his shoulder injury and then he had to change everything; he was a power pitcher, and now he has to throw strikes, change speeds and be a very smart pitcher.

The winning rally began with a leadoff infield hit by Alejandro De Aza and was advanced by a soft bloop to left field by Juan Pierre. Omar Vizquel battled Red Sox starter Josh Beckett to 2-2, then lined a sharp single to center, scoring De Aza. Brent Lillibridge, subbing in the game for Carlos Quentin who withdrew with an ankle injury, then dropped down a sacrifice bunt that was so well-placed it drew an overthrow from catcher Victor Martinez, allowing Pierre to score from second. After A.J. Pierzynski was intentionally walked to load the bases, Alexei Ramirez tapped a single just out of the reach of Bosox shortstop Jed Lowrie, plating Vizquel and putting the White Sox up, 4-2.

We took advantage of Beckett, we moved guys here and there, a lot of hit and run, bunt, Guillen said. We made him throw a lot of pitches and the last couple of days weve been good at that.

But with the bases full, nobody out and Hideki Okajima on in relief of Beckett, Manny Ramirez looked at a called third strike and Mark Kotsay grounded into a double play, falling to 0-for-25 against lefthanders this season.

We even let Beckett off the hook a couple of times, Guillen said. We knew we were facing a good one, and overall we did a good job.

Scoring had opened in the fourth, the Red Sox striking with a double by Marco ScutaroBostons first hit of the gameand Ortizs two-out tapper down the left-field line, stymieing the defensive shift against him. Pierzynski answered for the White Sox in the bottom half, nudging out a towering fly that dropped mere feet beyond the 335 sign on the right-field wall.

In the eighth, Bostons Lowell slugged a solo shot that cut the White Sox lead to 4-2. Chicago countered with a couple of singles and a double-play off the bat of Pierre that plated Brent Morel and finished the games scoring at 5-2.

Matt Thornton came on for another what-new, inning-plus effort, tossing 1 13 perfect innings for his eighth save.

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

Lucas Giolito puts together another strong outing in White Sox loss to Astros

Lucas Giolito puts together another strong outing in White Sox loss to Astros

HOUSTON — He didn’t have his best stuff against baseball’s top offense on Tuesday night, but Lucas Giolito had his changeup.

The young White Sox pitcher showed once again that when he has confidence in an offspeed pitch he’s able to overcome situations where his fastball might not be as good as he’d prefer. Trust in the changeup and a good command of the fastball were more than enough to put together another strong performance.

While Giolito took the decision in a 3-1 White Sox loss to the Houston Astros, he once again earned plaudits for his pitching.

“He was really good,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “His changeup's very good. He obviously can spin a couple different breaking balls. It looks like a heavy fastball. So, a really impressive young starter to be able to navigate the lineup in different ways and get guys out in different ways and really compete.”

Perhaps no one hitter better demonstrated Giolito’s ability to compete than his sixth-inning showdown with Astros No. 5 hitter Marwin Gonzalez. Having just issued his first walk down 2-1 with two outs and a man on second, Giolito threw both his two- and four-seam fastball, changeup and curveball during a lengthy at-bat. With the count full, Gonzalez fouled off six consecutive fastballs before Giolito threw a changeup in the dirt for the whiff on the 12th pitch of the at-bat.

It was one of 18 changeups Giolito threw, with 11 going for strikes.

“The changeup was a good pitch for me aside from a few I left up in the zone,” Giolito said. “I had a lot of confidence in it and that was probably the offspeed pitch I was most comfortable going to in situations.”

Given his fastball velo was an average of 92.2 mph, confidence and comfort were critical. Houston entered the game with a team slash line of .282/.345/.479 and averaging 5.47 runs per contest. The American League West champions offer few easy outs and were clearly the sternest test to date for Giolito, who has never pitched more innings in a season than his current 167 between Triple-A Charlotte and the majors.

Even though the velo isn’t where he’s wanted it in the past two outings, Giolito has pitched well enough. Giolito produced his fourth quality start in six outings in the big leagues as he limited the Astros to two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.

“Felt pretty good about it,” Giolito said. “It was one of those days where I didn’t have my best stuff working. Had a lot of trouble getting the ball to the extension side. That’s something to work on this week going into the next start. But I felt good about how I pitched tonight for sure.”

The White Sox feel pretty good about the production they’ve received from Giolito, who struggled with consistency earlier this season at Triple-A and dropped down in the prospect rankings as a result. The right-hander said he’s pleased with how he’s learned to be more composed on the mound this season. He’s also clearly gained confidence and trust in his stuff.

“Based on everything we saw, the skill set that he would be able to manage his ability on the mound to attack the strike zone,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s throwing his breaking ball more effectively now, the changeup as well.”

“All in all he’s doing what he needs to do. He’s kept hitters off balance. His ball has some life. He has angle. We’re happy with how he’s continued to develop.”

Giolito’s offense didn’t do what it needed to earn him a victory despite another big night from Yoan Moncada. Moncada went 3-for-4 with three singles and shortstop Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a ninth-inning single.

White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

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White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

HOUSTON — As much as he longs to pick first next June, Nick Hostetler has learned to cope in the name of player development.

The White Sox amateur scouting director sees a deep draft class full of high school and college players awaiting. He’d love if the White Sox didn’t have to sweat out other teams’ decisions in what will be another critical moment in the team’s accumulation process.

But Hostetler said Tuesday he’s learned not to let his own feelings get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. Even if the White Sox end up picking third or fourth next June, Hostetler appreciates that the worse draft position is the result of a hot streak by any number of young players.

“It’s really exciting to see some of these young kids have success,” Hostetler said. “I really do like seeing Tim Anderson hit .400 and Lucas Giolito doing what he’s doing. All of these things are so great for the ultimate plan, which is us winning at the big-league level. I don’t ever want to get so selfish where I’m worrying about one pick or whether we’re three or whether we’re four or whatever it is and to use that than to take away from the greater good.”

There’s no question one pick can make all the difference. Colorado has received good production out of the third overall selection of the 2013 draft, Jon Gray, who has thus far given them 7.1 f-Wins Above Replacement in his brief career. But that pales in comparison to the 21.0 WAR produced by second pick Kris Bryant.

Entering Tuesday, the White Sox boasted the third-worst record in the majors. But their lead over the flailing Detroit Tigers, who are fourth, has slipped down to 1 1/2 games.

While a 100-loss season still appears to be in play for the White Sox, it seems far-fetched they would catch Philadelphia or San Francisco to finish with a top-two selection next June.

No matter where the White Sox pick, Hostetler is excited about the prospects of the class, which has a nice blend of hitters and pitchers from high school and college. Hostetler said earlier this month it’s the best class he can remember since 2010.

Still, Hostetler jokes that he’s conflicted when it comes to September scoreboard watching.

“It’s hard not to sit there and look but I’ve done a really good job,” Hostetler said with a laugh. “I’m proud of myself for this. I’ve kind of removed myself from this point. I root for our guys to succeed and to win, but at the same time knowing ultimately come June and three or four years after we’ll really know if picking third or fourth actually mattered.”