Monday, March 7, 2011
By Brett Ballantini
GLENDALE, Ariz. After finishing the first week of Cactus League play 1-6, the Chicago White Sox enjoyed their last day of manager Ozzie Guillens declared vacation with a split-squad run barrage, winning 12-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson and tying the Cleveland Indians 16-16 after nine innings at Camelback Ranch.
Both games were the sort of windswept affairs that do wonders for slumping hitters egos. The White Sox entered Monday with a .239 team average, an ugly figure far back in their rearview mirrors after 31 hits between the split squads today.
Down in Tucson, it was homer heaven early for the White Sox, with Alexei Ramirez blasting solo shots into a 36 mph jet stream in his first two at-bats and Ramon Castro adding a home run of his own in the third. Ramirez was 3-for-3 on the day, with three RBI, and is now hitting .400 on the spring.
Brent Lillibridge punctuated a seven-run seventh for the White Sox with a two-out, bases-clearing double off of Rattlers pitcher Daniel Strange. Lillibridge now has five RBIs and is hitting .313 in Cactus League action. Kenneth Williams, son of GM Ken Williams, pinch-ran for Adam Dunn in that frame, inducing a balk from Strange and scoring Chicagos seventh run.
All in all, the White Sox slapped out 12 hits, with the only hitters to bat more than once and take the collar being Lastings Milledge, Brent Morel (both 0-for-3) and Dallas McPherson (0-for-2).
White Sox pitchers were stellar, as starter Edwin Jackson earned the win with 3 13 innings of one-run, two-strikeout ball, and remaining pitchers Chris Sale (two innings), Sergio Santos (23 innings), Josh Kinney (two innings) and Charlie Leesman (one inning) held Arizona scoreless.
Back in Glendale, conditions were even more ripe for a 16-inch softball game, with 25 mph winds were howling out to left. The White Sox led the Indians 9-6 after two innings but coughed up six runs in the final two frames to end regulation in a tie.
Chicagos 19-hit assault was led by Alex Rios, with two homers and five RBI on the day; Rios leads the White Sox with seven RBI but was batting just .231, as all three of the centerfielders hits this spring have been home runs. Mark Teahen went 2-for-3 with three RBI, but again struggled in the field, committing two more throwing errors to bring his total to four in Cactus League play. White Sox phenom Jared Mitchell saw his first action of the spring, pinch-hitting for Juan Pierre in the eighth and tapping out a run-scoring single to close Chicagos scoring.
The only White Sox with more than one at-bat who failed to place a safety were second baseman Austin Yount (nephew of Robin) and catcher Josh Phegley (both 0-for-2).
White Sox pitchers didnt fare so well, allowing 20 hits to the Wahoos. Only Brandon Hynick, who struck out the side in the fifth, hurled with any merit. Lucas Harrell flopped away his chance to assert himself as the systems top starter outside of the major league rotation by getting knocked out of the box with two out in the second, having allowed eight runs (six earned). Jeff Marquez relieved for 2 13 innings but remained crazy-wild, striking out three but spinning not one but two wild pitches en route to two earned runs.
After Hynicks mastery of Cleveland in the fifth, Kyle Cofield came on for two innings, allowing two earned runs. And in the eighth and ninth, things really got ugly, as Gregory Infante was touched for five hits and four earned runs in the eighth and Nate Jones failed to close out the game, allowing three hits and the two tying runs (one earned).
The White Sox defense was uncommonly sloppy, committing five errors in all, while Cleveland coughed up just one.
Getting the offense out of the starting gatein just one days time the White Sox saw their team average shoot skyward from .239 to .274was a relief to Guillen. But now, the competition begins.
Today is the last day of our vacation, he said. Its time to start playing the game right.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.