LIVE: Indians open up big lead over White Sox

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LIVE: Indians open up big lead over White Sox

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011
Posted: 10:31 a.m.

Associated Press

Neither the Chicago White Sox nor the Cleveland Indians have been officially eliminated from the playoff race, but their chances of winning the AL Central continue to quickly wane.

In what's been reduced to a battle for second place, the White Sox and Indians continue their four-game set on Friday night.

Chicago used a seven-run seventh inning Thursday to rip Cleveland 8-1. Brent Morel drove in a career-high four with his first two-homer game and Paul Konerko hit his 10th career grand slam, tying Robin Ventura's club record.

That helped pull the White Sox (72-70) within 8 12 games of the idle Tigers with 20 remaining. Chicago and Detroit will meet for the final three times this year starting Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox, though, will be without the versatile Brent Lillibridge for the remainder of the season after he suffered a broken hand when hit by a pitch from rookie Josh Judy in the seventh Thursday.

"It's frustrating, but I'll be around as much as I can," said Lillibridge, who's played five positions this year and hit a career-best 13 homers in 97 games.

Cleveland (70-71), which is 10 games back, is in danger of falling two games below .500 for the first time since opening the season 0-2 against Chicago. Manager Manny Acta's team has lost eight of 11 to the White Sox this year while being held to two runs or fewer five times.

"We couldn't get anything going offensively," Acta said Thursday.

Former White Sox star Jim Thome received a standing ovation and drove in the lone run for the Indians. However, Thome is hitting .214 with a homer and 16 strikeouts in 12 games since being acquired from Minnesota on Aug. 25.

Thome has five hits - two homers - and 13 strikeouts in 25 career at-bats against Chicago's Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.34 ERA), who's trying to bounce back from his worst start of the year.

He was charged with a season-high eight runs in a season-low 3 1-3 innings during Sunday's 18-2 loss at Detroit.

The left-hander has also been hit hard by Cleveland this year, giving up eight runs and 20 hits in 13 1-3 innings while going 1-1 over two starts. Buehrle lost to the Indians at home Aug. 17, dropping to 7-9 with a 5.09 ERA all-time against them on the South Side.

Indians catcher Carlos Santana is 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts in his last four games, but 4 for 7 against Buehrle this year.

Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez (2-2, 4.11) will try to win his third consecutive start as he faces the White Sox for the first time.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30, the right-hander has yielded two runs - one earned - and 12 hits in 11 1-3 innings en route to wins over Oakland and Kansas City. He had been 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in his four previous major league starts this year.

"Gomez gave us what we needed," Acta told the Indians' official website after Sunday's 9-6 win over the Royals. "He's been very good his last two outings and we need that."
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”