Jackson's slider full of action in 10 K domination

244455.jpg

Jackson's slider full of action in 10 K domination

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
Updated 11:37 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Merely keeping pace with the first-place Minnesota Twins, as the Chicago White Sox did with an 8-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles, wont do.

However, the combination of pitching, fielding and hitting that the Chisox put on display on Thursday night, well, that bodes well for a team that remains tantalizingly close to the top of the division.

The pitching was taken upon entirely by Edwin Jackson, who tossed preposterously dangerous stuff for eight innings, mowing down 10 Orioles and allowing just three hits.

That was one of the biggest reasons we brought Jackson here, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Every start has been a tremendous effort. The way he pitches, the innings we get from him, is something we really needed after Jake Peavy went down. Hes doing what hes supposed to be doing.

We needed that, left fielder Juan Pierre said. He saved the bullpen and closed the door. He had his stuff going.

Jackson Kd two in the first inning, whiffed five in his first two frames and finished his eight innings with 10 punchoutsthe first time in his career hes thrown back-to-back games of 10 strikeouts or more.

The erstwhile ace deflected praise postgame: I dont really go for strikeouts; its just one of those things. I want to be as durable as possible and go as deep in the game as I can. I just wanted to stay in the rhythm.

The White Sox also again proved resourceful with with the lumber while not resorting to anything more abrasive than a single to plate runs in the first eight innings. The Pale Hose scored six times in the first five frames to put the game away. In the process, five White Sox tapped out two safeties as part of a 14-hit attack.

Guys are off of suicide watch, said a relieved Pierre, laughing. When some guys in here dont get their hits, its like the end of the world to them.

The pairs of hits from Pierre, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teahen all were trumped by Alex Rios 3-for-4 night, augmented by a stolen base, home run, and three RBIs.

He hit a couple of balls to right field, and then he hit a home run on a good pitch to hit, Guillen said. Im glad he picked it up today; I know how players feel when they struggle, and he wasnt feeling good the last couple of days. He just has to go out there as just another player, and today was as great game for him.

Defensively, Pierre made a sweet catch to end the third, a foul-ground stab into the stands that required the same focus that found him swiping his 50th base an inning later, becoming just the 11th player in White Sox history to steal that many in a season.

Fifty, thats a lot of running, Pierre said, when asked to measure his accomplishment. I still have a lot to do for the team. I dont place much importance on individual achievements.

Apropos of Pierre, hed greeted the group waiting to speak to him at his locker postgame with surprise: I didnt do nothing!

Tony Pena tossed a scoreless ninth to secure the victory.

But the story of the night was the resurgent Jackson. Four starts and a 0.96 ERA later, all the ninnied hand-wringing over acquiring the fireballer a month ago seems rather silly, no?

Jackson fits in very, very well, Guillen said. Its hard when you come from a different team and get put in a pennant race. The expectation is very high, and sometimes you dont know how to handle it. He has handled it well: He came to a city thats desperate to win; hes handled it very well.

I havent felt any extra pressure here, Jackson said in response to his managers speculation. Its been a fresh start. Nobody wants to be the weakest link.

Edwin, here in Chicago, we call our aces anything but weak links. But we appreciate your humility. Speaking of, how did your dominance tonight compare with the no-hitter (on June 25)?

I had eight walks in the no-hitter, Jackson said, smiling a bit sheepishly. I was eight walks from a perfect game.

Man, this guy has a lot to learn about hero worship in Chicago.

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

Prospect Reynaldo Lopez struggles early, but White Sox top Reds

Prospect Reynaldo Lopez struggles early, but White Sox top Reds

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Reynaldo Lopez also struggled in his spring debut for the White Sox on Tuesday afternoon. 

The team's No. 4 overall prospect allowed five earned runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings before the White Sox rallied for a 10-9 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear, Ariz. Lopez also walked one in his first performance for the team since it acquired him along with Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Adam Eaton. 

Another heralded prospect, Michael Kopech, struggled for the White Sox in his lone inning in an 8-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Glendale, Ariz. The performances come on the heels of Giolito, the team's top pitching prospect, allowing a run, three hits and a walk in two innings against the Cubs at Mesa, Ariz. on Monday.

"We don't feel that pressure," Lopez said through an interpreter. "We just try to do our job. We have a very good relationship. We are not desperate to show people what we can do because we know what we can do. We just try to do our job and try to do what we are supposed to do. I think that he's doing that too."

"I felt good. I made very good pitches. I throw a lot of strikes. I made a lot of mistakes too. But I think it was good for my first outing, it was good."

[MORE: Michael Kopech frustrated with first step in quest to prove White Sox right]

Leury Garcia went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the victory. Yolmer Sanchez, Everth Cabrera and Danny Hayes each went 2-for-4. 

Matt Davidson and Tim Anderson each had two hits in the loss to Seattle.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Todd Frazier (mild oblique strain) continues to progress prior to Tuesday's split-squad doubleheader. Renteria wouldn't commit to a timeframe for Frazier's return when asked if playing this weekend is a possibility.

"We are going to keep monitoring him but he seems like he is kind of over the hump and trying to push himself into active duty," Renteria said. "We have to get him back into being more explosive in his actions. If he feels good and comfortable, there's every reason to believe that that's possible. I can't guarantee it."

Renteria also said pitcher Carlos Rodon would participate in his first bullpen session on either Wednesday or Thursday. He also believes Jose Abreu would be back in camp on Wednesday from a trip to Miami for personal reasons but isn't sure if the first baseman would return in time for the team's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Michael Kopech frustrated with first step in quest to prove White Sox right

Michael Kopech frustrated with first step in quest to prove White Sox right

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Michael Kopech was fairly upset with his performance Tuesday afternoon given how much he wants to make the White Sox look wise for their investment and silence his critics.

One of two highly-touted pieces acquired in the Chris Sale trade, Kopech intends to prove to his doubters that two questionable incidents from the past won't determine what appears to be a bright future chock full of 100-mph fastballs. 

So even though Tuesday's outing was his first with the team and should have little bearing on what's to come, the White Sox prospect hoped to provide his new team with much more. Kopech was instead saddled with a long first inning in which he flashed his dazzling potential and later was hit hard. He allowed four earned runs and three hits, including a three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch, in an 8-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Camelback Ranch. Kopech also struck out two and walked one.

"That's probably part of the reason I'm pretty upset about today," Kopech said. "I'm trying to prove some people right. Obviously that's not the way to do it, but it is early. I think there's some adjustments to be made and once those adjustments are made I can actually be pretty helpful."

The third-ranked prospect in the franchise and 16th overall in baseball, Kopech endured a year-long rough patch beginning in July 2015 when he was suspended 50 games after a positive test for Oxilofrine. Kopech told the Boston Globe last November he didn't knowingly take the substance, but took responsibility for his actions.

His reputation then took another hit last March when Kopech broke a bone in his pitching hand. While it has been reported as an altercation between teammates, Kopech told the Globe he was trying to protect his teammate.

When he returned to action in June, Kopech shined with a combined 2.08 ERA in 56 1/3 innings Single-A Lowell and Single-A Salem. He followed by posting a 2.01 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings at the Arizona Fall League. Kopech said his performance to end the 2016 season was critical moving forward.

"Bottom line is you can't take anything for granted," Kopech said in December. "I've missed too much time in my opinion. This half of the year was very important for me. I needed to show people, whoever, that I'm still out here to compete and get better."

Despite his blemishes off the field, the White Sox determined in late November that Kopech had to be included in a package if they indeed were trading Sale to the Red Sox. To reach that point, where they'd ask for Kopech as one of two main pieces in a deal for potentially the best pitcher in franchise history, the front office turned to both their pro and amateur scouts to search every nook and cranny for opinions.

"Any major transaction you try to do as much due diligence as you can," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We were fully satisfied with the explanation that (Kopech) gave, but also what we were able to uncover through people in the know. This is a really good kid and a kid who wants to be great and he's willing to pay the price and put in the work necessary to be great."

Knowing they'd rebuild, Hahn said the White Sox began to focus their scouts on particular organizations in July. That's when the process of digging deep on Kopech started.

The team contacted old coaches and former teammates to discern what they could about the 20-year-old, who often uses his social media accounts to tweet out inspirational messages and talk about his determination. By the time the White Sox elevated Kopech from potential target to definitive piece they had contacted 12-15 sources.

"In all, it kept coming to back to everybody saying he's so dialed in," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "He's an intense kid. He's so hard core with everything he does. There's no soft with Kopech, that's for sure."

The hard-throwing Texan proved that point on Tuesday when he topped out at 101 mph on the radar gun. His fastball sat at 97 mph and he hit triple digits at least three times. 

Kopech started his performance with a three-pitch strikeout of Seattle's Ben Gamel, the radar reading 99, 100 and 100.  

Shortstop Jean Segura then got enough of a two-strike pitch to hit it in front of home plate, which led to an infield single. Segura stole second base and Kopech just missed outside on a 3-2 offering and walked Robinson Cano. Nelson Cruz followed with a rocketed opposite-field RBI double before Dan Vogelbach lined out to center. With two in scoring position and two outs, Kopech threw two quick strikes to Mitch Haniger and looked like he might escape the jam. But his 0-2 slider caught too much of the plate and Haniger crushed it for a three-run homer to left.

"There were some pitches that needed to be down in some counts and there's some pitches that needed to be way down," Kopech said.

Afterward, Kopech shied away from any possible excuses about his performance, one that ended with a strikeout of Carlos Ruiz. The adrenaline wasn't anything he hadn't dealt with before and he thought his pacing was fine. Even though he didn't get a borderline 3-2 pitch to Cano, Kopech thought it was a makeup for an earlier call that had gone in his favor. And even though it was his first outing in big league camp, Kopech wasn't awestruck by facing Cano and Cruz.

He was just disappointed that he didn't excel from the outset. Kopech knows there are plenty more opportunities ahead and believes he's everything the White Sox think he is. He just wants to prove it.

"The toughest part is to stop caring so much about what other people think," Kopech said. "Everybody wants that pat on the back. That's what I had to shy away from is just not to care so much about that because what's being written about me and being said about me wasn't who defines me. That was what I really had to come to grips with and figure out — I'm going to determine my career and not past experiences."