Chicago White Sox

Jackson's slider full of action in 10 K domination

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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.

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The surprise that Master Sergeant Robert Brantly received on his final day of work is one he’ll never forget.

The father of White Sox catcher Rob Brantly, the elder Brantly was honored on the field on Monday night as the team’s Hero of the Game and joined by his son, who presented him with an autographed bat. The 37-year Air Force veteran, who also celebrated his 56th birthday, wasn’t informed he would be recognized by the White Sox on the field with his son until late Sunday.

“When I saw my son there and gave him a big hug and he told me I was his hero, it meant the world,” the elder Brantly said. “I can’t express it any other way than just gratitude for this organization, this team and my family putting up with me being away for so many different occasions with the military.

“I will never forget coming here to Chicago.”

The White Sox backstop said he informed the club that his father, an Angels fan, would be in town on his final day of employment in the Air Force. Brantly’s first day as a civilian is Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty emotional moment for me just knowing that my dad in the service he put into this country for almost 40 years fighting for our freedom, but also fighting to give me, his son, every opportunity in the world to succeed and he gave me this opportunity to be here and to be able to play Major League Baseball not only as a service man but as a father teaching me everything to know about baseball and the passion that comes along with the game,” the younger Brantly said.

“He would tell me he puts on that uniform every day so I don’t have to. It carries a lot of weight. To be able to do something like that for him and to finish off his career, his first day of retirement, tipping his cap to a Major League Baseball crowd giving him a standing ovation, it was a special moment for him and our family. I was glad I was able to be there to share that with him.”

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Ever since James Shields dropped down his arm angle, the strikeouts have increased considerably.

The White Sox pitcher struck out eight more batters in Monday night’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Shields, who pitched seven innings to earn a victory, has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning since he began to throw from a three-quarters angle in the middle of an Aug. 5 loss at Boston. While Shields still hasn’t perfected the new look -- he’s not even sure he’ll bring it back in 2018 -- it has caught the attention of opposing hitters.

“That was definitely a different Shields,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said. “He was moving the ball around tonight.”  

Shields might consider sticking with the lowered angle. The veteran often insists the adjustment is a work in a progress, though his results have continued to improve (he’s got a 3.51 ERA in his past four starts).

Overall, since Shields made the switch he has a 4.33 ERA in 60 1/3 innings, nearly two points below the 6.19 ERA he produced in his first 56 2/3 frames. Shields has also seen a reduction in home runs allowed per nine innings from 2.38 to 1.79.

But the most drastic change has been in strikeouts. Shields has increased his strikeout-rate to 23.5 percent, up from 16.6 percent. He’s whiffed 59 batters since making the adjustment after only 44 prior.

“He already curls, he closes off,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's got a cross-angle delivery, so you see his back a lot. But I think the variance in velocities, the breaking ball, he'll run the fastball, sink it. He's doing a lot with it, there's a lot of action going on so it's going to both sides of the plate. But the variance of velocity, especially with the breaking ball, sometimes it pops up there as an eephus or something. He's doing a real nice job.”

Shields has one season left on his current deal and seems likely to return to anchor a young White Sox rotation in 2018. Whether or not he’ll stay with the current setup remains to be seen.

“We’ll see,” Shields said “I’ll make some assessments in the offseason, and see how that works out, see how my body is feeling. Over the last month and a half, it seems to be working out. we’ll see how it goes.

“I’m revamping every year man. This being my 12th season, you’re always trying to refine your game every year, no matter what, whether it’s a pitch or mechanical adjustment. The league makes adjustments on you. I’ve faced a lot of these hitters so many times. I think Robbie Cano I’ve had almost 100 at-bats in my career against. But at the end of the day, you always have to make adjustments.”