Grand finale? Buehrle leaves on a winning note

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Grand finale? Buehrle leaves on a winning note

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011
Posted: 9:29 p.m. Updated: 10:41 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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This game, his season or career finale with the Chicago White Sox, couldnt possibly have gone better for Mark Buehrle.

The lefthander won his 161st career game with the White Sox and further cemented his place in team history with a memorable, soggy, seven shutout innings in a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the process, Buehrle logged his 11th straight season with 200 innings pitched, 10 wins and 30 starts. The win was also Buehrles 13th of the season, giving him the team lead and marking the fifth time hes led the White Sox in wins.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski also crossed a milestone after the first inning, catching 1,000 innings for the 10th straight season, the only streak of that length currently in the majors.

And lets not forget another milestone in the game, interim manager Don Coopers first major league victory.

I had a blastit was fun, the baseball lifer said.

It was Pierzynskis possible eventual replacement, Tyler Flowers, who provided the first scoring, with a massive blast to straightaway center, hitting homers in back-to-back games for the first time. Later, Pierzynski singled in Alejandro De Aza to drive in the eventual deciding run.

Buehrle, at 97 pitches, was sent out by Cooper to start the eighth, but the interim manager held back the rest of the lineup. With his starter out on the mound, alone, Cooper went out to give him a hug and send him to the showers, giving the lefty the chance at a long, heartfelt standing ovation.

It came up perfectly, Cooper said of the Paul Konkero-Cooper staged production. It wasnt exactly plannedbut it couldnt have gone better I relished the opportunity to yank a multimillionaire.

It was the tribute he deserves, Pierzynski said. Hes probably my very favorite pitcher to catch. That my locker was next to his for seven years is pretty great.

I knew I was going out for the eighth, but figured theyd do something, admitted Buehrle, noting he was a lot more nervous before the game and had warned Konerko not to surprise him.

As Jesse Crain warmed up to relieve him, Buehrle was pushed back onto the field by Konerko, to get what Buehrle termed his first-ever curtain call.

The fans kept calling for him, Konerko said. The only regret is we werent really playing important games to finish the season.

Crain immediately gave up a solo shot to Mike McCoy, but Toronto would get no closer than the single-run final. Chris Saleironically slated to enter the starting rotation if Buehrle doesnt re-sign with the White Sox for 2012relieved Crain and got the final five outs of the game, striking out three and earning his eighth save.

By postgame, even Ozzie Guillen was getting into the Buehrle tribute act, tweeting from Miami: Mark buurrrrrr thanks for a great memories buddy. love ya man To bad I couldn't have been there.

As for the current manager, Buehrle offered an honest assessment of the Cooper Era.

So far, so good, he said with a smirk. Lets see what he does Wednesday. Who knows, maybe hell get the job next year.

READ: Cooper on the hot seat - for good?

We thought there was one play where he could have gone out and argued, Konerko laughed. We teased him and said he was too scared to go out there and argue.

Meanwhile, Cooper laughed in recollecting how the game began, with the new manager watching his ace warm up in the pen pregame: I had to laughI told Mark, One career is ending, another is beginning.

What was said around their warm embrace on the mound?

Thanks for everything, Cooper said.

For a first-day guy, Coop seems to have instantly connected with the hearts of White Sox fans everywhere.

Comeback kid

All along, Buehrle has maintained he could very well come back for 2012, saying after Tuesdays win that the White Sox are all I know. Its hard to think otherwise about returning. Deep down, Id love to be back.

The veteran also admitted that if presented with similar offers, he would opt for the White Sox, preferring a three-year deal, but if presented with only a one-year offer, he might opt for retirement.

Hes still doing the job, Konerko said. As a teammate, you want him around.

A.J. left behind

Pierzynski was proud as punch over Buehrles win, but admitted the pulling of the lefty should have looked different: I was supposed to go out there with Coop, but he got caught up in the moment.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information. CSNChicago staff contributed to this report.

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

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

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

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White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

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He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

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Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”