With Manny on deck, Pierzynski clubs Sox to victory

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With Manny on deck, Pierzynski clubs Sox to victory

Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010
Updated 11:36 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND Even when Manny Ramirez isnt in the game, his aura has an effect on the biorhythm of every contest he creeps near.

What else accounts for the perplexing twist this series between Mannys new club, the Chicago White Sox, and his first franchise, the Cleveland Indians, took on Tuesday night? Namely, that a mere day after the two clubs combined for 16 runs on 35 hits, leaving 28 runners on base over 11 innings, the coupling erupted for just five hits over the first six innings.

And moreover, please do explain how his mere presence in the on-deck circle can inspire a first home run in months, a gamewinner at that?

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski played the hero (and the spoiler, as Ramirez was on deck waiting to make his White Sox debut) in the top of the ninth, clocking a three-run homer deep to right to give the White Sox a 4-3 victory.

Its been so long since I hit a home run, I kind of forgot what to do, Pierzynski joked. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper was telling me when I was on deck that we need a run, and fast, because we were running out of reliever options.

Im not going to say A.J. hit a home run because of Manny, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Its unpredictable, but when you see Mannys presence, hitting in front of Manny gives you a look at better pitches. You have to be careful with the guy in front of Manny. Youve got to throw strikes because you dont want to face him.

Pierzynski actually had a perfect explanation for his sudden burst of game-winning power, his first home run since July 9.

I told Manny that I finally got some protection, said the backstop.

While acknowledging Pierzynskis heroics and the looming threat that is "Manny Being Manny," the games biggest hero was the exquisite Edwin Jackson. The Chisox starter threw 8 23 innings, giving up three runs and six hits while walking just one batter and striking out 11.

As a starter you want to go as far as you can, no matter if the bullpen is fresh or if its beat up, said Jackson, who threw 129 pitches. You want to be on the field as long as you can, or until you cant go any longer. Thats just the mindset Ive taken out there.

Edwin Jackson is the story of the night, Pierzynski said. We really wanted him to finish that game. We needed that effort, with our bullpen kind of used and abused with the extra-inning game here, and the games last weekend with the New York Yankees. For him to go out and pitch the way he did, he was amazing.

Bobby Jenks came on for his 25th save, shaking off a rough Monday outing by coaxing Cleveland center fielder Michael Brantley into a tapout to the mound with the winning run on first base.

Thats when you have your heart in your throatyou dont know what to do, Guillen said. Jackson was throwing too many pitches. We called the bullpen and Bobby said hes ready to go, and Lino Scott Linebrink and Sergio Santos were ready to go as well. I went with my best betmy closerbut as a manager when you hear your players volunteer when theyre very beat up, you know what type of players you have playing for you.

I was happy for Bobby to come in and get that last out because hes had some troubles here the last few times, Pierzynski said. So that was huge.

The game certainly didnt seem to be angling toward the dramatic, nor the celebratory, for Chicago. In fact, over the first six innings, left fielder Juan Pierre had the clubs only two hits, extending his stretch of hitting safely to 34 of his last 36 games.

It took until the bottom of the seventh for the scoreless deadlock to expire, as Shelley Duncan clocked a 1-1 slider from Jackson deep to left, putting the Wahoos up 1-0. The White Sox came right back in the top of the eighth to tie, as Mark Kotsay walked, Brent Lillibridge pitch-ran for him and was sacrificed to second by Alexei Ramirez, and Mark Teahen came through with a single to center, tying the score.

Meanwhile, Jackson kept mowing through the Indians. Although his club could only muster a tie in the eighth, the wily righty chased that game-tying effort with a 12-pitch bottom of the eighth in which he struck out the side, topping out at 99 mph on a fastball to third victim Shin-Soo Choo.

Its just a matter of attacking the strike zone and executing pitches, said Jackson, whose ERA jumped to 1.47 in winning his third game in five White Sox starts, his KBB increasing to an astronomical 5.63.

With momentum behind them, the White Sox mounted a rally in the ninth with a leadoff walk and stolen base for Alex Rios. After a poor at-bat from Paul Konerko ended in a K and Carlos Quentin walked, Pierzynski stepped to the plate and Ramirez hit the on-deck circle to pinch-hit. But the newest White Sox sat his fanny right back down after Pierzynskis three-run shot, leaving his Chicago debut for another day.

Everything worked out well for us, Guillen said. Manny was on the on-deck circle, and all of a sudden we hit a home run. Its good, we didnt have to use him today, and hell be in the lineup tomorrow. Manny is excited to play, maybe because he hasnt played for two months. It seems like hes very comfortable here and hopefully we make his stay with the White Sox very comfortable. The players seemed to welcome him very well. Our dugout was the same. Nothing changed.

On Wednesday, the Manny Era in Chicago begins, as the White Sox attempt to sweep the Wahoos and pull closer to first place - as they remain four games back of the Minnesota Twins. If a standing ovation in the on-deck circle and mind-melding a pitcher into tossing a three-run, game-losing homer to the batter in front of him is any indication of his powers, that Manny Era is going to be one heck of a trip.

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

Preview: White Sox host Cubs in Crosstown Classic Monday on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Cubs in Crosstown Classic Monday on CSN

The White Sox take on the Cubs in the Crosstown Classic tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with an hour-long White Sox Pregame Live at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: Miguel Gonzalez (2-5, 4.41 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (12-4, 2.60 ERA)

White Sox HR leaders Cubs HR leaders
Todd Frazier (28) Kris Bryant (25)
Brett Lawrie (12) Anthony Rizzo (24)
Jose Abreu (11) Ben Zobrist (13)

Looking Ahead:

Date White Sox Cubs
Tuesday James Shields (4-12, 4.99 ERA) Kyle Hendricks (9-6, 2.27 ERA)
Wednesday Jacob Turner (0-1, 14.73 ER Jason Hammel (9-5, 3.35 ERA)
Thursday TBD TBD

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

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White Sox top Tigers with two walk-offs on Sunday

White Sox top Tigers with two walk-offs on Sunday

The White Sox are somehow still afloat. But just barely.

Melky Cabrera’s game-winning, one-out single in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon got David Robertson off the hook and helped the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in front of 30,281 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cabrera singled past Nick Castellanos to score Adam Eaton, who reached base four times, and give the White Sox their second victory of the day. Eaton’s two-out, ninth-inning RBI single earlier helped the White Sox win a rain-suspended contest 4-3 over the Tigers. Cabrera’s hit arrived just minutes after Robertson surrendered three solo home runs — all with two strikes — and blew a victory for Jose Quintana, who may have made his final start in a White Sox uniform. The victories kept the White Sox from entirely slipping out of the wild-card race as they remain 6.5 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I love the guys that are in our clubhouse,” Eaton said after the first game. “We’ve got a tight-knit group of guys that really want to fight for each other. To get the big hit and have everyone rush out there, especially with what we’ve had the past couple of days, the whole year has really been a roller coaster both on and off the field.”

The season’s topsy-turvy nature potentially could lead to a trade of mainstays Quintana or Chris Sale, who earlier Sunday was suspended five games for insubordination and destroying team property on Saturday. It has been widely speculated the White Sox could move Quintana before the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline in an attempt to rebuild a roster that general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday has been “mired in mediocrity.” An All-Star and one of the top pitchers in the American League, Quintana and his team-friendly contract could fetch a handsome return were the White Sox to part with him in a deal.  

Sunday’s 118-pitch effort displayed exactly why Quintana is an attractive option for a contender as he shut down a Detroit lineup that has given him trouble over the years. Quintana kept the Tigers off balance throughout the effort, never allowing more than one runner to reach base in any inning. He faced two over the minimum through five innings and struck out Miguel Cabrera to end the sixth after he surrendered a two-out double to Jose Iglesias.

Though he started the inning at 107 pitches, Quintana returned in the seventh and recorded two more outs before he allowed a bloop-base hit to Justin Upton. Nate Jones struck out Mike Aviles to end the inning.

Quintana allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He also lowered his earned-run average to 2.97.

“He’s been helping through the long run and if he gets traded he’s going to help whoever gets him,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “But I think he’s going to be a great part of this team for many years to come.”

That would give the White Sox plenty of chances to make up for all the heartbreak they’ve caused Quintana over the years. Sunday’s no-decision was his major-league leading 56th since 2012.

It’s no secret the White Sox have struggled to score runs for Quintana since he arrived in the majors. Even though he owns a career ERA of 3.39, Quintana’s career record remained at 41-42 after Robertson blew his fourth save in 27 tries. Robertson, who earned the win in the first game of the day and also pitched before Saturday night’s game was suspended, allowed solo homers to Castellanos, Tyler Collins and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Quintana’s sub-.500 record is in large part because the White Sox never seem to score with him on the hill. This season, Quintana ranked 126th out of 136 qualified starters with a 3.2 runs per start headed into Sunday.

But the White Sox followed Eaton’s lead. Less than 45 minutes after he won the opener, Eaton singled in the bottom of the first and scored on a two-out RBI single by Jose Abreu. An inning later, Eaton took advantage of singles by Dioner Navarro and J.B. Shuck went he lined a three-run homer with two outs off Anibal Sanchez to give the White Sox a four-run lead.

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The four runs scored for Quintana marks the team’s second-highest output for one of his starts this season.

But it wasn’t enough until Cabrera came through against Bruce Rondon with two outs. Eaton led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on Tim Anderson’s sac bunt. Cabrera then singled on the first pitch from Rondon to produce the game-winner.

“I'm proud of the guys for what they did over the weekend and how they handled it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “All of them reached down for the ball. They all wanted to be in there, so I'm proud of them for that. Robbie is disappointed. It's the first time I've seen that one, but I don't know if it was that he was out of gas. Probably some poor pitches and a day like today, you get it up in the air and it's gone.”

Ken Griffey Jr. finished his Hall of Fame speech in most fitting way thanks to Frank Thomas

Ken Griffey Jr. finished his Hall of Fame speech in most fitting way thanks to Frank Thomas

Ken Griffey Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, and he went out in the most fitting way possible.

At the end of his speech, Griffey Jr. grabbed a hat from under the podium and put it on backwards, rocking his signature look.

Griffey Jr. said in his speech that it was White Sox legend Frank Thomas who pitched the idea and ultimately convinced him.

"You gotta do it," said Thomas, who joined Cooperstown in 2014.

The Big Hurt also posted this on Twitter congratulating the newest Hall of Fame inductee:

In his 22-year career, Griffey Jr. played half a season with the White Sox in 2008. He had three homers and 18 RBIs in 41 games with the team.