Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem

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Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 5:55 p.m. Updated: 8:28 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO The third time was the charm for Phil Humber.

The 28-year-old righty threw the game of his life in the White Sox's 4-2 win Saturday afternoon, turning his third career start (and first for the White Sox) into a sort of masterpiece alleviating the pressing need for Jake Peavy to rush back into the Chicago rotation.

We had a good game plan going in, and A. J. took care of me behind the plate, Humber said. I made pitches when I had to. Last night was a tough loss, and everybody came to play today.

He was great, catcher A.J. Pierzynski returned. He was the story of the gamethe way he threw the ball, especially the way last nights game ended. To come out and shut them down the way he did, it was awesome.

WATCH: Pierzynski laughs off Lopez altercation

The most important person to impressWhite Sox manager Ozzie Guillencertainly was.

Great, wow, said the jefe of his fifth starters effort. He got an opportunity to win the game, he pitched very well, he got in trouble in one inning maybe, but he threw the ball very, very good, threw strikes. He gave us more than what we thought he was going to give us. It was outstanding today.

And thats just the impact Humber had hoped to have.

Hopefully it wasnt a surprise, he said. They got me on the team because they wanted me on the team, they didnt just throw me out there because they didnt have anybody else. They believe in me, and that gives me a lot of confidence as a player.

You always want to at least meet the expectations, if not exceed them. I dont know what they were, but I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win, and thankfully I was able to do that.

The outcome was in doubt for a full nine innings, however, as the Pale Hose were opposed by Wade Davis, who authored a best-seller of his own, holding the high-octane Chisox to two runs on five hits in six innings of work.

They are a good team, Pierzynski said. You can say what you want, but Wade Davis has always pitched very well against us. Hes tough. He changes speeds very well. He mixes up his pitches very well. Hes a good pitcherthey signed him to a long-term deal because hes good.

Davis was rescued from potential catastrophe in the fourth, when Juan Pierre hit a two-out, bases-loaded, screaming line drive into the right-field corner that Sam Fuld laid out to snag and retire the side. Pierre was inches away from a potential game-breaking, inside-the-park grand slam.

WATCH: Pierre still can't believe the catch

Guillen laughed off the notion that Pierre was thatclose to a granny, with a loud laugh.

Maybe five or six years ago, it was an inside-the-parker, but I dont know about now, Guillen said. I dont remember seeing any catch better than that. The situation, where he was playing, this kid went a long way. If that ball landed, it would be a different ballgame. Its just a helluva play.

It was an incredible catch, and I tip my hat to him that he didnt kill himself on the fence and he got there and made the play, Pierzynski said. It was an amazing play.

Fulds belly flop followed Brent Morels single, a rather hilarious Rhode Island Leaguer pop that floated tantalizingly beyond Davis grasp for a bases-loaded single.

Thank God Brent Morel hit that ball a foot too far, where Davis he couldnt reach it, Pierzynski said.

In the seventh, Chicago finally drove Davis from the box and immediately doubled its lead, as Pierzynski drove a deep double to right that Fuld failed to handle. The two-run knock would ultimately prove to be the game winner for the South Siders.

Sergio Santos, Fireman of the First Week for the Sox, came on to anesthetize the Rays with a scoreless eighth, giving way to fellow young gun Chris Sale, who earned the save after giving up a home run to Felipe Lopez in the ninth.

Guillen was thrilled at how his team bounced back after expressing before the game that hed be studying how much fight his troops had in them.

Good teams are supposed to not carry what happened the night before to the next day, whether you win or lose, he said. We brought a lot of energy. We knew it would be a challenge to see how we could bounce back from the game last night and I was very satisfied with what I saw.
Did U.S. Cellular Field witness MLB's best defensive play for the second straight season? Sam Fuld's full-speed running dive to make this catch robbed Juan Pierre of at least a triple and three RBIs. (AP)
Not Fuld

Fulds amazing catch in the fourth was the defensive story of the game.

Somebody said that guy is really good in the outfield, and hes made some nice plays against us these three games, but that catch he made off of Pierre is one of the best catches Ive ever seen, Pierzynski said. Honestly, he ran like 50 yards to get to that ball.

Closing time

While Guillen was clear not to spark a closer controversy, he did edge a bit back toward a closer-by-committee situation, judging by his postgame remarks.

Thornton was beat up todayhe threw a lot of pitches yesterday, Guillen said. But this is what youre going to see: Im going to go with my gut feeling. Obviously, Thornton is going to get the most opportunities, but Im the manager of this ballclub and Im going to put the best guys out there, the ones I think are going to do the job.

"The way Santos is throwing, Sale is throwing, if Thornton needs a break well give it to him. Matt threw like 30 pitches FridayI know he couldnt pitch today.

Guillen had a brief conference in the clubhouse with Sale after the game, and also cited Santos as a closer in a more specific way than he has yet this season.

Whenever your name's called, you have to go out there and do your job, and do it the best you can, Sale said of his save opportunity. It just so happened today I was throwing in the ninth. You go out there with the same mindset: Get three outs, get this game wrapped up, and go home with the win.

At the end of the day its a goal of mine to be closer, but until they name somebody Im going to be in that same role whether its the sixth, seventh, or eighth, Santos said. When my names called, Im gonna give the same effort as if Im closing the game.

Santos has had an unbelievable run through 2011 so far, unscored upon in spring training and now stretching his scoreless streak to four regular season games as well.

Everythings starting to come together a little bit. Everything is working in my favor, he said. If I miss a spot, they hit it to somebody. Im making the pitches I need to with two strikes, putting guys away. Im in a good rhythm right now and I just want to ride it out for as long as I can.

Santos is very aggressivedont be surprised if you see Santos in the ninth, Guillen said. All the people out there, they see closerthats a title. I dont know who gets that title. Im going to go by my gutwhat I feel, what my pitching coach feels, what I feel is best for the ballclub. Santos threw the ball very well.

Weve done it before. In 2005, I had three closers. In 2007, I had seven closersnobody could close. But I gotta go about what is best for the ballclub, its not about individual numbers and titles.

In the end, no one has replaced Thornton as the teams stopper.

"As far as were concerned, Thornton is still our closer, and were going to fill in in front of him, Santos said.

Box Score

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

White Sox will give Tim Anderson freedom to make mistakes

White Sox will give Tim Anderson freedom to make mistakes

MINNEAPOLIS -- The White Sox have no plans for Tim Anderson to take the same path as the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber.

An hour before the Cubs announced their shocking news Thursday that the World Series hero is headed to Triple-A, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he thought Anderson’s struggles could be addressed in the majors.

Playing in his first full season, Anderson has had an up and down campaign. He leads the majors with 16 errors committed and has struggled at the plate, hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 265 plate appearances. The roller coaster ride has led to some aggravation for Anderson, who slammed his batting helmet in frustration during Wednesday’s loss. Anderson said the helmet slam was the topic of a postgame conversation he had with Renteria on Wednesday.

“I feel like this year has been the toughest year I’ve dealt with since I’ve started playing baseball,” Anderson said. “I have to keep playing, lock in and control it.

“(Slamming the helmet) doesn’t make you feel better. It’s just a little frustration. You get mad at times, but you just try to control it and keep playing.”

Anderson, who turns 24 on Friday, has had a lot to manage in 2017.

It’s his first full season in the majors. He signed a contract extension in March. Since May he’s been dealing with the loss of his close friend, who was shot to death. Throw in the on-field struggles and Renteria realizes there’s a lot with which Anderson had to deal.

“You just make the sure the perspective they’re having at any particular moment is the correct perspective,” Renteria said. “You try to make sure that the underlying frustrations he might be having, that he’s able to separate it.

“You have ups and down, they’re not always going to be in the best place mentally at times. But for the most part you address it, you talk about it because you understand it, you’ve lived all those things and you just try to give him a little insight and keep it going in the right direction.”

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Anderson made a pair of miscues in a costly third-inning Twins rally on Wednesday night.

But Renteria expressed his confidence in the second-year player, calling him one of the premier shortstops in the league.

The White Sox manager has seen Anderson make the necessary corrections after infield work with bench coach Joe McEwing. The effort and preparation have been there. Renteria just wants to make sure his player can compartmentalize and stay focused. He realizes there’s going to be mistakes from time to time and wants to make sure Anderson is handling them well.

“To say he’s not going to continue to make mistakes every now and then, yeah that’s going to happen,” Renteria said. “It’s there for everybody to see. That’s why everybody takes notice and that’s natural. I think the one thing we have to do as a staff and players also is step back and stay away from the fray of that attention and stay focused on what you have to do. Minimize how all the noise affects you and continue to play the game.”

Renteria remembers his own struggles as a young player and knows how much more scrutiny Anderson faces. Every game is televised and highlights are streamed on the internet. Any little gaffe can be magnified. Anderson admits that at times he’s dealt with frustration he’s never before experienced and it’s caught up to him. Now he just needs to learn how to cope with the stress a little better.

“Nobody wants to go through tough times and struggle,” Anderson said. “Slamming helmets is not the right way to go about it because you could get injured, so try to handle it in a better way.

“It’s been tough times and a lot of frustration, but I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it does. I try to balance it out and keep going.

“I’m just trying to manage it, balance it out and separate it from each other.”

Jose Berrios gave the Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now

Jose Berrios gave the Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now

MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios gave the Minnesota Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now on Wednesday night: a deep, dominant outing.

The young Twins pitcher overcame a slow start to deliver eight sharp innings as the struggling White Sox fell 4-2 in front of 33,316 at Target Field. Starter David Holmberg lasted only 3 1/3 innings for the White Sox, losers of three straight. It was the 23rd time in 28 games a White Sox starter has failed to deliver a quality start.

“These guys are trying to give us length,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It just hasn’t happened. I get it. I don’t anticipate that’s what’s going to continue to happen as we move forward. I don’t think anybody could sustain over a long haul using your starters for three or four innings. It’s impossible. You would wear out your arms in the pen. Today we were fortunate in that we just used two guys for quite a few innings and outs. … They did a very nice job. That type of work is unsustainable.”  

There are many reasons why the White Sox rotation has struggled through the first 70 games of the season. Injuries to four starters is the most significant factor, the biggest being to Carlos Rodon. The White Sox were hopeful their third-year starter would step into the rotation and deliver 33 starts and 200 innings. But Rodon is only now nearing a potential return to the majors and his first start of the season after he went on the disabled list in March with bursitis in his left shoulder. James Shields, Miguel Gonzalez and Dylan Covey, who originally replaced Rodon, have also been placed on the DL.

While replacements Mike Pelfrey and Holmberg have pitched well enough, neither starter has gone deep into games. The pair is averaging 5 1/3 innings in 16 starts with two six-inning performances by Pelfrey marking the longest efforts to date.

Combine those figures with the inconsistent performances of Derek Holland and Jose Quintana and you have a White Sox bullpen working overtime.

Holmberg limited the Twins to a run through the first two innings. But a combination of hard-hit balls — four straight registered at 95 mph or better to start the inning — and shoddy defense helped Minnesota pull ahead for good in the third.

Miguel Sano blasted a game-tying solo shot, Max Kepler singled in a run and Ehire Adrianza’s fielder’s choice brought in another as the Twins made it 4-2. Mixed in was a Tim Anderson error, a liner that Jose Abreu didn’t catch and a bobbled turn of a potential inning-ending double play by Anderson.

Holmberg recorded only 10 outs before he gave way to Gregory Infante and Michael Ynoa, who pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“Feel like I got behind a couple guys, had to make a pitch a few times,” Holmberg said. “Labored through some innings. I would have like to get some quick outs and gone a little deeper into the game.

“Ultimately it’s up to Ricky. He’s going to do what’s best for the team. But that goes hand in hand with performance. We get some quick outs, quicker through the order, that’ll tie in.”

The White Sox scored in the first and third innings against Berrios before he began to find a rhythm. In the first, Avisail Garcia singled in Alen Hanson, who led off the game with a walk, to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then in the third, Melky Cabrera grounded into a double play to score Adam Engel, who started the inning with a double.

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But that was all the White Sox would get against Berrios, who has allowed 34 hits in 54 innings this season. Berrios retired 14 of 15 hitters after Hanson singled in the third inning. The only man to reach was Garcia on an error in the fourth inning.

Berrios didn’t allow another hit until Omar Narvaez singled to start the eighth inning. He allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts and one walk.

It was a performance of which the White Sox are desperately in need. Through 70 games, the team’s rotation has also only had a pitcher go at least seven innings eight times. Jose Quintana was the last to do so on Friday. Before that it was Gonzalez on May 28. Over their last 28 games, White Sox starters are averaging a tick over 4 2/3 innings.  

Renteria is confident the trend will turn. Quintana starts on Thursday and has been good in two of his last three outings. Shields just returned from the DL and Rodon is right around the corner, if he stays on track. But Renteria also knows his bullpen can’t keep this up and hope to remain effective.

“It’s not sustainable,” Renteria said. “It just isn’t.”