No fooling, Sox loss sets record for April futility

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No fooling, Sox loss sets record for April futility

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 9:12 p.m. Updated: 10:15 p.m.

Associated Press

No. 9 hitter Robert Andino supplied some power, aggressive baserunning and a great play at shortstop to help the Baltimore Orioles send the Chicago White Sox to yet another defeat.

Andino's antics were pivotal in the Orioles 6-2 victory Saturday night, but manager Buck Showalter pointed to the work of reliever Mike Gonzalez as the key.

The hard-throwing lefty pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam with only one run scoring in the sixth. He struck out Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski to stop a potential big inning by the struggling White Sox, who've lost 14 of 17.

"Gonzalez was the star," Showalter said. "Big momentum swing with Dunn coming up there. I said, 'Let it loose, let it hang out, let's go.'

"He's always emotionally into it. Nobody is a robot that doesn't have emotions. Everybody pulls for him. (The offense) fed off his success as much as he did."

Leading 2-1, the Orioles tacked on four runs in the eighth, an inning featuring a passed ball and error on Chicago catcher Pierzynski, some daring baserunning by Andino and a two-run single by Vladimir Guerrero.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen missed the game, completing his two-game suspension for tweeting comments about an umpire after he was ejected three nights earlier in New York. Bench coach Joey Cora ran the team for the second straight game.

With or without their manager, the White Sox can't win and finished April 10-18 - the most losses in April in franchise history. They've dropped four straight.

"The league is not going to be feeling sorry for us or wait for us or nothing. We are going to have to play and play through it and start winning some ballgames," Cora said.

Baltimore's Chris Tillman (1-2), who had to skip his previously scheduled start because of a sore groin, had a 2-0 lead and was pitching well into the sixth when he gave up singles to Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin and walked Paul Konerko to load the bases with no outs.

Showalter went to the bullpen for Gonzalez, who struck out Dunn looking. Alex Rios then hit a fly ball to medium center field and Adam Jones made a strong throw to the plate that appeared to be in time to get Ramirez, but Orioles catcher Jake Fox couldn't hold the ball, making it 2-1. Gonzalez then fanned Pierzynski to end the threat.

Phil Humber (2-3), who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his previous start against the Yankees, had another solid outing, giving up three hits and two runs in seven innings.

"Our job is to gout there and go deep in the ballgame and keep us close and give our offense a chance," Humber said. "Right now we're not scoring a whole lot of runs, but I think that is going to turn around, I really do. I've got all the faith in the world in these guys. ... Hopefully it turns around for us pretty quick."

Andino led off the third with his first homer of the season - and seventh in parts of seven major league seasons - to put Baltimore up 2-0. The Orioles took an early lead when Brian Roberts doubled to lead off the game, went to third on a fly ball and scored on Humber's wild pitch, a low delivery that eluded Pierzynski.

"I wish I could take one pitch back, the one to Andino," Humber said. "Other than that pitch and not being there to cover home in the first inning that kind of bit us there. Other than that I threw the ball pretty well."

Andino also blunted a Chicago rally in the fourth when the White Sox had first and second and no outs. He made a diving stop on Rios' grounder behind the bag and started a double play with a nice flip to Roberts.

"He's been playing good shortstop," Showalter said.

Andino singled in the eighth off Matt Thornton and stole second. When Roberts struck out, the ball got by Pierzynski, who retrieved it and threw low to Dunn at first. Dunn caught the one-hop throw but his relay to the plate was too late to get Andino, who scored all the way from second.

"I came around third aggressive," Andino said. "He might throw the ball. In this game, anything happens.... Once I saw the ball hit the dirt, I made up my mind."

Nick Markakis followed with a single and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases before Guerrero delivered a two-run single past third. Luke Scott's sacrifice fly made it 6-1 and Thornton was booed as he left the mound.

Rios hit his first homer of the season in the ninth to make it 6-2.

NOTES

The Orioles have won four of their last five. ... Guillen said he watched Friday night's 10-4 loss on TV. He said that more difficult than from the dugout because he has to watch replays and can still hear the booing. He said he was in the parking lot and then went home Friday night. "It was painful to watch as a fan," he said. ... Dunn, who underwent an appendectomy and was 7 for 61 over his previous 17 games, got his first start at first base for the White Sox after serving for 20 games as a DH. He went 1 for 4 Saturday night. ... RHP Jake Peavy (shoulder) is scheduled to make his next rehab start on May 5 for the White Sox's Triple-A Charlotte team and throw 100 pitches. ... Orioles' DL update: SS J.J. Hardy (left oblique) hit off a tee, ran the bases and took ground balls Saturday. RHP Justin Duchscherer (left hip) threw 30 pitches in batting practice and said he felt great afterward. LHP Brian Matusz (back) threw 45 pitches in a side session Saturday and reported no problems.

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

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.