Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

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Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 9:27 p.m. Updated: 11:08 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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White Sox fall in Game 1

CLEVELAND The Chicago White Sox were pleased to escape with a doubleheader split as precious time to do so slipped away, storming back to knock off the Cleveland Indians in Tuesdays nightcap, 5-4.

But even in doing so, the sweet note turned sour, as three White Sox batters were pelted by Wahoos pitches, with nonexistent retaliation. The White Sox put more effort and aggression into criticizing one anothers clothing and style than offering opponents chin music or a slide spikes-high.

Paul Konerkohe of a month away from first base after taking a ball directly on a leg nerve in Julywas the first to be belted, with a 93 mph fastball, in what appeared to be a fairly sensitive spot. PK cussed his way to first base, but come bottom frame, Matt Thornton had nothing to say about it.

In the ninth, Indians reliever Josh Judy lost complete control, hitting everything in sight. First it was Gordon Beckham, drilled squarely below the numbers, shot in the back with an 89 mph fastball. Juan Pierre, who has already been hit by his share of baseballsseven so far in 2011escaped harm with an ever ready sac buntAll-In for the little fellas.

But then Alexei Ramirez took a shot up and in, off his shoulder. Ever dramatic, Alexei spun and hopped, hopped and spun. No, it wasnt his shot dead trick done sprawled on the ground, an act that makes even prankster jefe Ozzie Guillen giggle, but it was dramatic.

Perhaps, then, with two bruised and sore baserunners on first and second, revenge would be wreaked on the basepaths?

Opportunity arose, in the form of PK back at the plate. But Konerko grounded to short, and Ramirez did his best El Caballo (Carlos Lee) imitation with a slide that stopped some six feet short of second. Yes, legs were outstretched, but no second sacker would be spiked on this playnudged, brushed, peed on, perhaps. But spiked in retaliation, no. The slide was something you might see stealing a base in a father-son game.

Still, there was one more shot at redemption, with hard-throwing, wacky motioned, wicked movemented Chris Sale on the mound for the ninth. But no, it was just a mere, four-batter save. No harm, no foul. Pack it up and start tomorrow back at 1 behind the Wahoos for second place in a Central once preordained them.

Postgame, Konerko was so bruised he was unavailable, the Capn typically apologetic and promising time on Wednesday, when any sensitive swelling might not be so intrusive. Bacon was available, packed in ice like the fish to flop he was made out to be by his pitching staff. And Ramirez was also wrapped tightly around his left shoulder, muled down with enough ice to margarita the entire clubhouse.

Beckham spoke, and he really didnt have much to say vis a vis vitriol.

I feel fine. It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit. No worries, said the second baseman, stiff upper lipped. I dont ever take a HBP as intentional.

The young grinder, unfortunately having to answer for HBPs in advance of chatting on the breakout offensive game he finally experienced after a 150-game wait, seemed reluctant to dismiss the charges against Judy. Or, maybe he wasnt.

If it was intentionalit wasnt intentional, Beckham convinced himself. Judy didnt have control, and he let it slip on a couple. But after you see Paul get hit and Alexei earlier in the day and then two more, obviously it wasnt intentional. There was just a lot of hit batsmen today.

In advanced mathematics, we call this solving the proof, Gordon. The only problem is, you and the remainder of the clubhouse crew seem to have the solution twisted.

There wasnt a lot of guidance from the top, no matter how much grit and spit and grindiness espoused by the teams general.

Obviously, I was upset, but I dont think they were throwing at us, manager Ozzie Guillen said. Its a bunch of kids coming from the minor leagues, and you cant do nothing about it. Just run to first base and go get the trainer, thats all you can do. I doubt they threw at us.

Ozzie, forgive the snickers from your audience. They know not of this modern baseball you are forced to manage, when minor leaguers hit with impunity your millionaire, long-term superstars, guys who you feel will have statues at U.S. Cellular Field and even one day plaques in Cooperstown. They do not understand your powerlessness against the minimum-wagers of the sport.

Guillen was more interested in talking of the sweet than the sore, anyway.

You make a long day a little bit nicer by winning the nightcap, Guillen said. We got to feel both sideswe lose and we win. It was tough in the nightcap because were down 4-0 or 4-1 right away, and I thought this whole day is going to be very long. But we fought back and won the game.

Beckham has learned well at the foot of the master: Bark brusquely, but shy at the sign of a bite.

It would have been a really long night if we had lost the nightcap, but we were able to come through, he said. We really played a good game, so Im happy for us.

Alejandro De Aza, often unable to repeat starts in spite of his blistering .926 OPS in his short time in Chicago, was certainly happy; he had two hits, drove in two, and saved at least one with a customary sprawling play in center field.

Omar Vizquel, nearly two decades De Azas senior, likewise chipped in two hits as an adoring Cleveland Indians fanbase roared; he was all grins. And even Beckhams kidney punch came after a career-high three doubles; doubtlessly he sleeps more sweetly tonight, albeit on his stomach.

But smiles aside, the Chisox managed to show the true colors that embody this All In-turned-Well Were Here season on Tuesday night, making even a turnabout of 4-0, dead-dugout deficit into a colorless 5-4 comebacker anesthetized by anticlimax.

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

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

For six innings Sunday, Miguel Gonzalez was perfect.

The White Sox right-hander put the baseball world on perfect-game alert and conjured memories of Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber with his dazzling work through six innings. Gonzalez lost his bids for a perfect game, no hitter and shutout in the span of three batters to lead off the seventh inning, but that didn’t take away much from how good he was in a 7-3 win for the South Siders at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He was dominant,” shortstop Tim Anderson said, providing an accurate if brief summation of the day’s proceedings.

Gonzalez, who entered with a 3-5 record and a 4.55 ERA in nine previous starts this season, set down the first 18 hitters he faced in order, with the visiting Detroit Tigers rarely even coming close to reaching base. That streak of 18 straight hitters retired to start the game was the longest by a White Sox starter since Chris Sale sat down the first 19 he faced back in May 2013.

Of course, whenever a performance nears no-hitter territory, players know it and stay away from the pitcher in the dugout, afraid of jinxing things. And the White Sox weren’t immune to that baseball tradition on Sunday.

“It was getting quiet,” Gonzalez said. “I was just trying to do my thing. Just go out there and make pitches, let them make the plays and that’s how things went.”

The Tigers — who trailed big after the White Sox gave Gonzalez a 7-0 lead — finally broke through to start the seventh. Austin Romine reached on an infield single, Alex Avila singled through the right side of the infield, and Miguel Cabrera dumped an RBI base hit into right field.

Detroit added two more runs on three extra-base hits in the eighth, but Gonzalez still finished with a great line, yielding just three runs on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.

Gonzalez’s gem snapped a streak of rough outings that started, coincidentally enough, against this Tigers team, when he was crushed for seven runs on 14 hits in an April 30 loss in Detroit. Entering Sunday’s game, Gonzalez was a nasty 0-5 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous five starts. He hadn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of his previous three starts.

“I started off really good. I was struggling for a couple outings, and all you can do is keep working hard and things are going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “I think if you work hard in between your starts you have a pretty good chance of getting back on track and that’s how I felt today.”

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That seventh-inning blip by the Tigers ended the day’s only drama, as the White Sox offense put the result of the game out of question earlier, tagging opposing starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann for seven runs in his five innings of work.

Zimmermann entered the day struggling on the 2017 campaign, and that didn’t change Sunday. Willy Garcia tripled in Omar Narvaez for the game’s first run in the third and scored on the same play thanks to a throwing error. Two hitters later, Melky Cabrera hit a solo home run to make it 3-0.

Matt Davidson led off the bottom of the fourth with his 10th home run of the season, and Narvaez drove in Yolmer Sanchez to make it 5-0. Todd Frazier tacked on two more in the fifth with a two-run shot that also scored Jose Abreu.

“As an offense, we’re trying to give that (big cushion) every night. That’d be nice,” Davidson said. “And it really relaxes them. And you can see what happens when they’ve got a lead and you let them do their thing.”

The White Sox took three of four from the Tigers in this weekend series that featured a doubleheader split Saturday. It’s a positive start to this home stand — which continues with a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox — after going 3-7 on a recent 10-game road trip.

“I'm very happy with it, but again I'm not surprised by it, simply because I think they come out every single day to try to play good baseball and do what they need to help each other out and win ballgames,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's just their character, the way they're put together. They keep battling.”

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Call it the White Sox latest Cuban connection.

When news came out of the team pursuing 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, it was pretty easy to guess that Jose Abreu, the franchise’s previous big-time, free-agent signing from Cuba, would be involved.

But not only was Abreu involved in the White Sox courting of Robert, sending a personalized message as part of the team’s video pitch, he’s been a willing participant. And now that Robert is officially signed after Saturday’s much-hyped introduction, Abreu is ready to take on a mentorship role, much like he has with another one of the organization’s Cuban prospects, Yoan Moncada.

In the lead up to Saturday’s press conference, it was Abreu touring Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field, chatting with him in the dugout and taking pictures on the infield.

“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy right now because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said through a translator ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the visiting Detroit Tigers. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity (to be a mentor). That’s something that I like to do. I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing right now with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with (Robert).”

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While Abreu arrived on the South Side an older, more experienced player who was ready for the big leagues, Robert’s journey to the majors will be a much different, much longer one. Abreu recognizes that and talked about how tough the transition will be. He also has confidence Robert, who has received glowing scouting reports comparing him to perennial All Stars, can succeed.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to come here straight to play in the majors because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “I think the best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there. He’s had a long time without playing baseball. Baseball in Cuba is good, but it’s not as good as baseball here in the U.S. and you have to adjust. I think that process for him is going to be perfect in the minors.”

Saturday, Robert talked about the White Sox tradition of Cuban players, mentioning how it helped motivate him to sign with the team. Abreu has been one of the franchise’s most successful Cuban players, a list that includes the legendary Minnie Minoso as well as more recent players like Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo and Moncada in the minor leagues.

While that tradition might not be the entire or even main reason Robert is now a part of the organization, general manager Rick Hahn talked about how it’s created an environment that will help Robert develop. Banners featuring Minoso, Abreu, Ramirez and Moncada flanked the table where Robert signed his contract.

Abreu said it’s a tradition he’s very proud to be a part of.

“That made me feel happy and proud. Not just for this organization that I’m a part of, but also for my heritage because I know that this is a very good organization and they are trying to take care of the Cuban players,” Abreu said. “I also feel a huge respect for Minnie Minoso because he was the first one who opened this door here with the White Sox.”

Through his mentoring, Abreu could keep that tradition going into the future. Robert and Moncada are huge pieces of the White Sox rebuilding puzzle, and Abreu is helping put those pieces together for the White Sox.