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.

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Even though he felt isolated and experienced a five-day stretch he called “a fiasco,” Chris Sale was right where he wants to be Thursday, surrounded by White Sox teammates.

Shortly after a 3-1 loss to the Cubs, the pitcher echoed the sentiments of White Sox management in a 10-minute media session when he suggested he’d like to move on from a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

With the trade deadline only four days away, Sale wants to stay with the White Sox and hopes the current roster gets an opportunity to win. He also thought an incident in which he destroyed promotional throwback jerseys had been blown out of proportion.

While he didn’t apologize for his actions, the left-hander said he regretted letting down his teammates and fans who attended Saturday’s game. Sale, whose record fell to 14-4 after he allowed two runs in six innings, said he plans to address White Sox players and coaches soon and intends to let them know his level of appreciation.

“I want to let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at,” Sale said. “And let them know how much I appreciate them.

“I felt like I was out on an island, really. 7 o’clock rolls around and I usually know what’s going on. Sitting at the house sucks.

“I regret not being there for my guys. I’m a pitcher. I’m called upon every fifth day and when I can’t go out there for my guys and the fans, it gets to me.”

Similar to March when he pitched a day after ripping executive vice president Kenny Williams, Sale said his focus is back on the field. He declined to answer what he didn’t like about the throwback jerseys, calling it “counterproductive.” Even though the White Sox are on the outside looking in, Sale is hopeful he and his teammates can rally and make a strong postseason push over the final 60 games.

“I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this then it really is,” Sale said. “We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that’s our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that’s at the forefront.

“I don’t like people filling in for me. I love what I do. I love pitching. I love competing. I love the guys that I’m surrounded by.”

“When I let them down, it hurts me more than it hurts them.”

Three days after he suggested manager Robin Ventura didn’t properly support him, Sale declined to discuss their future relationship and again diverted the conversation back to the field. When asked what was the biggest lesson he took from the ordeal, Sale said he wasn’t quite sure.

“I know you guys are trying to get in there and you guys have to write stories and stuff,” Sale said. “I understand. But they said their side. I said my side. I’m ready to talk about baseball and playing baseball and getting back to winning and getting the Chicago White Sox into the postseason. That’s my goal. That’s my focus. Anything else, that’s for you guys.”

While he admits that his competitive side may have fed into Saturday’s events, he also knows abandoning it would hurt him on the field. Sale said he was inundated by texts and calls from teammates past and present during his absence. That only strengthened his desire to win with the current group, Sale said.

“There’s no doubt my emotions have got me to this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the same person without them but stuff happens. Move on. We have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’ll just push forward.

“I’m here to win. I love exactly where I’m at. I have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’re pulling for each other, they are pulling for me and vice versa, through and through. I’d like to stay with this group of guys and make a push for the playoffs because I love those guys.”

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

The word of the day Thursday around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field was normal, as in getting things back to it with ace left-hander Chris Sale taking the mound after serving a five-game suspension for “insubordination and destruction of team property.”

A completely abnormal story — Sale cut up the 1976 throwback uniforms he didn’t want to wear last Saturday and was sent home for his actions — gave way to a relatively routine evening. Sale allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over six innings, though the White Sox lineup was shut down by John Lackey and the Cubs’ new three-headed bullpen monster in a 3-1 Crosstown loss.

“Things were pretty normal,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys got here, not a different clubhouse or anything like that. I think everything went fairly normal as far as him going out there and pitching and it was about baseball.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said things felt like an ordinary Sale start, even though the American League’s All-Star starting pitcher hadn’t pitched since July 18. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t his sharpest, either — those three walks were his highest total in over two months — as he wasn’t able to consistently paint the corners with his explosive arsenal of pitches.

But, as usual, Sale worked quickly and kept his team in the game against one of baseball’s best offenses.

“He pitched a very good game,” Abreu said through a translator.

The Cuban first baseman added: “I think that we already moved on.”

Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed.

“He gave us a great outing, we just weren’t able to score any runs for him,” Navarro said.

Before the game, third baseman Todd Frazier said he and his teammates rallied around Sale and hoped a solid outing from the 27-year-old left-hander would put the bizarre incident squarely in the rearview mirror. 

“Some mistakes are bigger than others but you gotta understand that we’re all not perfect,” Frazier said. “Things do happen in this game, different things that you think (you’ve) never seen before, and then it happens. It’s just one of those things, hopefully it goes away quick with the way he pitches."

Sale said he didn’t discuss the incident or his suspension with his teammates before the game to keep things as normal as possible. After he showed up a little after 4:40 p.m., he received hugs and handshakes from teammates welcoming him back following his five-day exile.

But after that, Navarro said things were business as usual. He and Sale went through the gameplan and got ready to face the Cubs' powerful lineup instead of dwelling on what happened last Saturday. Eventually, Sale will talk to his coaches and teammates on a personal level to “let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at, and let them know how much I appreciate them.”

With the White Sox playoff hopes flickering as the trade deadline approaches, though, Sale’s teammates are eager to keep the focus on trying to dig themselves out of a substantial, two-games-under-.500 hole.

“Everything’s in the past,” Navarro said. “He did a great job. Quality start, nothing else you can ask.”