No quit in White Sox, losing streak ends at eight

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No quit in White Sox, losing streak ends at eight

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
Updated 8:05 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

OAKLAND Its not known whether White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had to kick anybodys behind in order to coax a last-gasp, 4-3 win over the Oakland As on Wednesday. But if he did, it worked, as Chicago snapped its season-high eight-game losing streak on the strength of a tying base tap by pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay and an eventual game-winning, pinch-hit double by Mark Teahen.

Kotsay drove in pinch-runner Alejandro De Aza on a two-out, full-count single to right, tying the contest at three. On the very next pitch, Teahen drove the ball deep to left, plating pinch-runner Gordon Beckham.

Were not going to give up, Guillen said of the comeback, Oaklands first loss this season when leading after eight innings, dropping the As to 68-1 in such circumstances. One thing about this ballclubthose guys hear from me what I tell you every dayIm proud of and pleased with the way they play. I told them Im happy the way theyve gone after it all the way from spring training to now. I mean it. They played hard all the way through and were going to continue to play hard in the games we had left.

Guillen was making a passing reference to a team meeting held before the game, where the manager both praised his players for their efforts and reminded them to dig deep for the final 11 games.

His players were neither surprised by the comeback, nor unimpressed by rallying after being one strike from a ninth consecutive setback.

Were going to play to the end, said Juan Pierre, who recorded his 60th stolen base on the season with a swipe of home in the eighth. Guys are professional in here, and its been kind of a lull during the eight games weve lost. Weve been playing hard and things havent been going right. Today we got a break, finally, with Kotsay getting a big hit, the bullpen held up and it was a good win.

That was great; you cant ask for much more, White Sox starter Edwin Jackson said. Thats the importance of keeping the game close: You keep it in striking distance and youve got a chance to do what we did today, come back and win. If you let it get out of hand, itll take a lot of runs to come back and win. Definitely, it was a battle today on both ends and defensively, but we overcame adversity and got a win.

Jackson pitched another strong game for the White Sox but narrowly averted being saddled with his 13th loss this season, courtesy of the ninth-inning rally.

I was feeling for Jackson, that if we lose this game, Jackson wouldnt be rewarded for his effort, Guillen said. Hell of an effort out there; he threw the ball very well for us. Im happy for the win and the team, but Im happy Jackson didnt get a loss.

Jackson, a smooth customer to the core, was nonplussed by the possibility of being yoked with a tough-luck defeat despite spreading five hits and three runs (two earned) over seven innings, striking out six and walking just one.

In this game, you come to learn you cant control wins and losses, Jackson said. The only thing you can do is keep the game close and give the team a chance to win. After that if you get a loss, it sucks, if you get a win, its great, and if you get a no-decision, its better than a loss. The team wonthats all that matters.

Jacksons opponent, Brett Anderson, benefited from an offense slightly more inclined to score; in 6 23 innings, the lefty rendered six hits and just one run, but had his seventh win of the season stolen away by Kotsay.

The game began on a strange note. In the top of the second, the White Sox played musical chairs, as starting DH Manny Ramirez remained on the bench and Carlos Quentin and Tyler Flowers slid up a spot in the lineup, with Dayan Viciedo replacing Ramirez at DH.

Later it was revealed that while Ramirez was listed as the starting DH in the lineup, hed come to Guillen before his pregame meeting with the club and said he wasnt feeling well. Postgame, Ramirez manifested the credo of Billy Crystals Fernandoits better to look good than to feel goodrocking the team bus with a snappy suit that earned whistles in the locker room (and tie courtesy of teammate Andruw Jones), sniffling on his way there.

Scoring opened in the third, when Chris Carter led off with a full-count, booming home run to left. It was the first career round-tripper for Carter, who managed to go 4-for-8 with his first career hit and homer in this White Sox series, after starting his major-league career in a 0-for-33 slump, the longest hitless streak to open a career in the majors for a player since Vic Harris started 0-for-36 for the Texas Rangers in 1972.

Oakland doubled its lead on an RBI single from Jack Cust in the sixth, scoring Cliff Pennington.

In the seventh, the White Sox executed a mini-rally, the only kind they seemed capable of executing over their eight-game losing streak. Quentin started things off with a double to left, advanced to third on a Flowers flyout and scored when Viciedo tapped a single to left, prompting As manager Bob Geren to escort Anderson from the game. But with two outs, Boof Bonser came on in relief and whiffed Brent Morel to escape the jam and strand Viciedo.

In the bottom of the frame, a two-out error by second baseman Brent Lillibridge would give the As what appeared to be the deciding run of the contest. Lillibridge chucked a ball past first baseman Paul Konerko on a routine grounder, allowing Jeff Larish to score.

Down 3-1, the White Sox again rallied, putting runners on first and third before a strange play allowed Pierre on third to steal home. Alexei Ramirez was caught leaning off of first base by reliever Brad Ziegler, but when the ball was dropped during the rundown of Ramirez, Pierre streaked home and executed a picture-perfect slide to score.

I wasnt aware they were even going to give me a stolen base on that, Pierre said of his steal, which moved him ahead of Scott Podsednik and into sole possession of second place on Chicagos all-time season steals chart.

Ramirez, who had returned safely to first, was eliminated on a double-play grounder off the bat of Alex Rios, and another White Sox rally ended small.

Before the heroics by Kotsay and Teahen were even a glimmer in the Chisox eye, Konerko led off the ninth with a strikeout and Quentin walked. A.J. Pierzynski pinch-hit for Flowers and tapped out, pushing pinch-runner De Aza to second. Thats where Kotsay dug in and started to stop the Chicago losing streak.

Matt Thornton relieved Jackson and pitched 1 23 scoreless innings to earn his fourth win of the season. With the tying run on first, J.J. Putz came on in the ninth to close the game out, but surrendered a single to Mark Ellis. Lefty Chris Sale came on to face Steve Tolleson, whiffing the pinch-hitter on a nasty changeup to extinguish the fire and earn his third save in three tries.

Jackson, Kotsay, Teahen and Sale all contributed to the rescue effort, and the mood postgame was immediately brighter as the White Sox packed up and headed south for their final road series of the season (vs. the Los Angeles Angels, beginning on Friday).

We played good as a group, Guillen said. The only difference between today and the past was we got clutch hitting, getting big hits late in the game, with two outs. We pitched very well late in the game, and Jackson threw well.

But for the starter, the game was a struggle.

It was a battle, one of those games where you dont necessarily feel that great, but its all mental, said Jackson, speaking personally but could easily have been taking the temperature of his entire team. You just go out there and compete. It was tough to get loose a little bit, but the more you think about it, the more its going to affect you. You just kind of laugh at it and say, here we go

In the end, a weight had been lifted off of the White Sox, Guillen joking that hed not only forgotten how to shake hands in congratulation after a win, but that he might have been shaking hands with a couple of his newer players for the very first time.

A win is always fun, Pierre said. You see guys more upbeat in here. I dont care when you win, its always a good time.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms 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.