Longballs doom Floyd, Sox drop opener

540073.jpg

Longballs doom Floyd, Sox drop opener

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011Posted: 2:30 p.m. Updated: 6:59 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
CLEVELAND For a pitcher that all too many fans are eager to deal away, Gavin Floyd is having another quiet, solid season as a starter for the Chicago White Sox.

Mondays doubleheader opener loss to the Cleveland Indians was a typical Floyd start: well-pitched, but falling just short of victory. Floyd gave up just seven hits in his 6 23 innings, largely offsetting those with seven strikeouts. But three of the hits longballs by Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kosuke Fukudome accounted for four runs.

I thought they werent terrible pitches, Floyd said of the three that did all the damage. They just kind of got the right part of the bat on the ball. So you just take it for what it is. Im sure it could easily have been fly ball outs. Today, they werent."

Gavin threw the ball very good, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He got hurt by the longballs, but a good outing for him. Obviously, he should be happy. He lost again, but he pitched well.

And against a typically sullen and abortive White Sox offense, thats all it takes.

Chicagos 4-3 featured just a few offensive highlights, including Adam Dunns pair of doubles, which marked his first consecutive multi-hit games all season long. Improbably, Alex Rios also had two hits, meaning that the two banes of the White Sox offense this season accounted for four of the teams seven hits.

The past couple of days, I had a game plan to just forget about trying to hit the ball out of the park and just get hits, said Dunn, who is penciled in to DH in game two as well. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. But Im just trying to finish up as strong as I can, personally, and getting back to what I do.

Floyd reflects

With just one start remaining, Floyd took some time to reflect on his 2011, for better or worse.

I feel like I matured as a pitcher, he said after his 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. I feel like I learned a lot, and obviously finishing healthy was one of my goals. I worked hard in the offseason and tried to be here for the team all season.

Floyds health is a bit of a straw man, as encouraging as it seems. Yes, he hasnt missed a start due to injury in 2011, but then, his workload was decreased by the six-man rotation (of course, that cant be held against him). He projects to finish the year at 185 innings over 30 starts, when in 2010 he was at 31 starts and 187 13. And although Floyd hasnt taken a huge step back from his career-best 2009 and 2010 campaigns and is still a terrific value for the White Sox, 2011 offers pause.

Even Floyd, who isnt given to advanced stats study, seems to sense the step back.

Obviously, it wasnt exactly statistically everything I wanted it to be, Floyd said. But I felt like I matured this year: Repeating pitches, being able to throw strikes on a consistent basis, mental focusespecially in tough situationsjust moving on from bad starts, and continuing to push and trying to win.

At first blush, Floyds 4.46 ERAa jump from the 4.06 and 4.08 of the past two seasonsis distressing, even in light of him leading the staff in wins with 12. But his saner ERA measure, xFIP, is somewhat in line with his previous campaigns (3.64 in 2009, 3.69 in 2010, 3.83 in 2011).

All that said, Floyds bargain price and solid performance makes him the third-best pitcher value on the White Sox and second starter, behind Phil Humber. And his evolving maturity and stamina as a pitcher makes him a crucial member of the 2012 rotation.

I havent had one problem yet physically, Floyd said. Obviously I have one more start, but I feel strong. I feel like my offseason regimen worked.

Canyoneros going off-roading

Dunn would be the first to admit that his recent hot streak is a matter of too little, too late. But its also a case of better late than never, no matter how much Dunn may want to erase 2011 from his permanent record.

His two doubles in Game 1 on Tuesday represented just his second game with two doubles this season (also May 14, at Oakland). He enjoyed his 12th multi-hit game of the season and his first consecutive such games in a White Sox uniform.

I want to go up and have good at-bats, he said. My year is what it is; like I said, Ill talk about this up until our last game, and then Ill never talk about 2011 again. It would be nice for us to kind of roll and finish strong and end on a positive note as you can.

Dunn was happy to see Fausto Carmona pop up on the pitching docket for this series, given his mastery of the sinkerballer.

It baffles me; hes got such good stuff, Dunn said of raising his average to .500 vs. the righty, with three doubles. It wouldnt surprise me if he comes back next year and has an unbelievable year. Hes as good as it gets.

But again, even the small measures of success Dunn had in 2011 will be erased as of Sept. 29, the first off-day of the rest of his life.

When this year is over, its overgood, bad, anythingits over. Thats the way Im doing it, he repeated. I dont know what Dr. Phil or anyone would say about it, but thats the way Im going to go about it. Its been obviously a hard season, not for me, but also my family and everyone thats associated with me. So I think everyone wants to put it behind them, too. So thats what were going to do.

Entering the nightcap of Tuesdays doubleheader, Dunn has raised his average to .168, with an OPS of .587. He currently sits at 164 strikeouts on the season.

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

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton break down the upcoming schedule in this week's Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

After a 6-2 homestand, the White Sox got swept by the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox will head to Minnesota for a four-game series and then head back to Chicago for another three-game series against the Tigers.

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Jose Quintana — who's searching for win No. 12 — and Carlos Rodon — who's 3-0 in his last five outings with a 1.47 ERA — are scheduled to get the first two games of the series.

With 30 games left, how many wins will Quintana finish the season with?

Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton share their thoughts.

See what they had to say in the video above.

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers did it to the White Sox yet again.

For a third straight day, the White Sox grabbed an early lead. For a third straight day, the Tigers rallied back to win.

Tyler Collins’ pinch-hit sac fly in the bottom of the ninth inning off David Robertson sent the White Sox to a 3-2 defeat in front of 32,465 at Comerica Park. The victory completed a series sweep for the Tigers, who won eight of the teams’ nine meetings in Detroit this season. Chris Sale earned a no decision despite limiting the Tigers to two runs in eight innings.

“I don’t come here for the experience, I come here to win games and it didn’t happen,” Sale said. “It’s tough. It’s unfortunate. Ran into a little bit of bad luck there. That’s a good team. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win. Certainly did that.”

Even in their two previous losses, the White Sox looked similar to the team that on Sunday completed a 6-3 homestand by taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners.

Sale had the White Sox in the thick of things again on Wednesday as he outdueled Justin Verlander for seven innings. But shortly after Sale struck out Victor Martinez for a second straight time, J.D. Martinez managed to get enough of a 1-1 changeup to dump it into left field for a two-out, game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth.

Rookie JaCoby Jones led off the ninth inning with a double off Robertson and advanced to third on a fly out to the wall by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Collins’ fly ball to left was deep enough for Jones easily to score the winning run when Avisail Garcia bounced his throw home.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

“It’s tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We were playing pretty good baseball, but these guys have been sniffing us (out) at the end. We played fairly well early on, but with the lineup they have, it’s a pretty deep lineup that’s hard to contain.”

Sale used the double play as an effective tool early to get out of some potential trouble spots. One in the first inning erased a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler and Sale ended the second inning with a 6-4-3 off Saltalamacchia’s bat with two aboard. Sale also induced a double play to end the fourth inning after he walked Justin Upton.

Later in the game, Sale turned to his slider with great impact. After he didn’t strike out any of the first 20 hitters he faced, Sale struck out five of the next seven, including Victor Martinez to end the fifth inning with two on.

With the White Sox up 2-1, Sale nearly got out of a difficult eighth-inning jam.

Kinsler led off with a double to center and moved to third on a sac bunt. Sale struck out Victor Martinez but J.D. Martinez came through.

“With two outs already, you’re trying to make him hit your pitch and (Sale) did that,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He threw a really nice changeup off the plate away. Eighth of an inch and it’s a weak ground ball to short. Got to give them credit, he hit a good pitch as well. That was definitely tough. We’ve had two tough losses.”

Verlander was equally tough aside from a pair of fourth-inning mistakes.

Verlander continued a strong season with seven sharp innings as he limited the White Sox to three hits, walked none and struck out nine.

The White Sox jumped ahead of Verlander in the fourth inning when Jose Abreu and Avila belted back-to-back solo homers. But Verlander retired the last 10 hitters he faced and the White Sox were on their way to a third straight difficult defeat.

“I love winning, but it’s hard to hang your head when you play your ass off and so did they,” Avila said. “They happened to come out on top. We’ve had a few tough losses this year, but guys are playing hard. Just unfortunate they were able to get one extra one across.”

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

DETROIT -- Todd Frazier is close to a franchise record for home runs hit by a third baseman and he’s pleased with that aspect of his game. But the White Sox third baseman said Wednesday morning that his focus over the final month of the season is on ways he can improve for next season.

Frazier temporarily gave the White Sox the lead on Tuesday when he homered for the 33rd time, 32 of which have come with him at the hot corner (he also hit one as a first baseman).

With 31 games to go, Frazier is sure to pass both Robin Ventura, who hit 32 of 34 homers in 1996 while playing third base, and Bill Melton, who belted 33 at the hot corner in 1971.

But Frazier’s attention will mostly be tuned to adapting to the American League, which he has found trying at times.

“It has been different,” Frazier said. “I think (Justin) Morneau said it best the other day — National League there’s a lot more hitters, so they’re going to try and tinker a lot more with spots. For me I guess it was a little tough to adjust to that and finally figure out that they’re not always going to throw me strikes with a count that’s in my favor. Bottom line is you’ve got to look for your pitch and stay with it the whole time and eventually, once it comes, you can’t miss it.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

There was an expectation the batting average of Frazier — a career .257 hitter before 2016 — would suffer some as he transitioned to the AL.

ZIPS projected Frazier’s average would drop to .239 this season.

Through 536 plate appearances, Frazier is hitting .214/.295/.452 this season with 33 homers and 83 RBIs. But he has struggled even more within the AL Central. Frazier entered Wednesday hitting .158/.229/.372 with 11 homers and 92 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances against AL Central foes.

“He’s seen a lot of these guys in our division,” Ventura said. “But there is a lot of good pitching in the American League, especially in the Central that you have to figure out.”

Frazier intends to do that and he’d like to find some success over the last month of games off which to build. Acquired in a three-team trade from Cincinnati last December, Frazier is under team control through 2017. Even though he has been strong with his glove and his home run production is on par with what the White Sox hoped for, Frazier knows there’s work to be done.

“A lot of times this year I did miss a lot of those pitches, but it’s something to learn from and something, look at some video and figure out some things I need to work on for next year,” Frazier said. “There’s always room for change.”