LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead

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LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 9:51 a.m.

Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers aren't just cruising toward their first division championship since 1987. They're steaming toward that title with one of their longest win streaks in team history.

The Tigers will try to move a step closer to clinching the AL Central by winning 12 in a row for the first time since 1934 on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit (86-62) reduced its magic number to four with a 5-0 win in Chicago on Tuesday, its 21st in 25 games. That victory marked the first time the Tigers had won 11 straight since Sept. 9-21, 1968, a season that ended with a World Series championship.

Detroit has produced at the plate and on the mound during its streak, batting .334 and averaging more than eight runs while posting a 2.36 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera is hitting .390 with 12 RBIs during the run, while Victor Martinez has driven in 17 in Detroit's last nine games.

"You look at the talent around this room, if everybody gets rolling it's going to be tough to beat us," pitcher Justin Verlander said after earning his MLB-best 23rd win Tuesday. "This last couple of weeks, it's been an example of that."

The Tigers haven't won 12 straight since a team record-tying 14-game run July 31-Aug. 14, 1934, but Brad Penny (10-10, 5.19 ERA) may not be the best candidate to help his team accomplish that feat.

The right-hander is 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA over his last nine starts and has allowed 19 runs - 15 earned - over 15 innings in his last three outings. Penny, however, got the win in an 8-4 victory over Minnesota on Friday after allowing four runs over five innings.

"(My teammates are) going to score a lot of runs," Penny said. "If you can keep them somewhat close, you've got a chance to win."

The Tigers have won all four of Penny's starts against the White Sox (73-74) this season, and he's 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA. However, he gave up eight runs - four earned - and 10 hits over five innings in the most recent matchup Sept. 3 and avoided a loss only when Detroit pulled off a stunning rally for a 9-8 victory.

The Tigers have won 20 of 26 over the White Sox, outscoring them 54-15 in five consecutive wins this month. They've also won 10 of 13 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Detroit will try to add to that success by spoiling the first career start for Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00). The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings in relief against Minnesota in his major league debut last Wednesday.

"I'm definitely excited to get that chance. I want to go out there and see what I can do," Axelrod told the White Sox's official website. "It should be great."

Axelrod was 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Charlotte before being recalled last week.

Alex Rios will try to help his rookie teammate by continuing his success against Penny. The outfielder is 13 for 21 with five doubles versus the right-hander in his career and 4 for 9 with one double this season.

Cabrera is batting .381 this season against the White Sox and is 9 for 20 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in the past five matchups.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.