'Phil'ing in: Humber the toast of Sox clubhouse

'Phil'ing in: Humber the toast of Sox clubhouse

Sunday, April 10, 2011Posted: 1:05 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

When Phil Humber woke up on Saturday morning, it was like any other day for the young righthanderaside from the jitters accompanying his third-ever major league start (first with the Chicago White Sox) and an incessantly-buzzing cell phone piling up with well-wishing texts from friends and family.

By the time he went to bed after a 4-2 triumph after some modest and heartfelt celebration, Humbers prospects on the South Side had leaped ahead by bounds.

READ: Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem over Rays

It's exciting, Humber said. I was going out there trying to get the team a win. It wasn't about me, it was about the Chicago White Sox. I was thankful I was able to go six solid innings and continue from there.

I couldnt have been any happier for Phil in his first start here, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. His first start with the White Sox, to come out in Chicago and to throw the way he did was awesome. Im so happy for him. Hes a great guy and has great stuff. He always just needed an opportunity, and hes going to get it here for a little while. So, we will see what he can do.

In a strange twist of fate, one of Humbers career starts came against the White Sox, in the first game of last years bizarro night doubleheader at Kansas City. He battled through a rough 5 23 innings in that game, giving up nine hits and five earned runs, but Kd six Chisox and earned the 6-5 win. In his one earlier start, a Sept. 26, 2007 start for the New York Mets vs. the Washington Nationals, Humber escaped without a loss but was scraped a bit, throwing four innings and giving up six hits, five earned runs, and two walks against no strikeouts. For his career heading into yesterdays effort, Humber was 1-0 with a 9.31 ERA and 2.17 WHIP.

I've had plenty of chances, said the former No. 3 overall pick (2004). It's just relaxing and allowing yourself to get out of the way. A lot of times, I put too much pressure on myself.

WATCH: Humber's reaction on the first start of his career for White Sox
So really, theres no real explanation for how the former first-rounder performed so beyond expectations with his gem of a win. In the spring, after all, Humber pitched mostly well enough not to lose, rather than going out and stealing the No. 5 rotation spot with a golden Cactus League.

His biggest thing is in spring training he has been behind in the count and having to pitch in, Pierzynski said. But today he was ahead of the count and he was able to use his curveball, which is one of the better curves Ive seen. He threw some good changeups to get some outs. He moved the ball around with his fastball. He established his fastball enough to make his curve ball effective.

There was only one righthander against me in the lineup, so I threw my changeup quite a bit and used the curveball when I needed to, Humber said. I located the fastball and didn't shake A. J. off but once or twice.

Now, the White Sox are left with the delightful proposition of slowing down Jake Peavys minor league rehabilitation if need beas well as having a sneak ace in the No. 5 hole of the rotation.

If they give me the ball, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can with it, take it one day at a time, Humber said, looking toward next Friday vs. the Los Angeles Angels. If I get another start, then I'll treat it the same way.

Suddenly, rather than being tucked away on a minor league bus, lucky to get a sentence-long mention on a major-league scoreboards Farm Report, Humber finds himself on sports highlights coast-to-coast and is the toast of the White Sox clubhouse. But in case you think Humber was happy with just a six-inning win, think againthe college ace has higher expectations.

You can go a complete game or something like that, he said, laughing over whether his win was as good a game as he could imagine having. It could have been better, pitch a shutout or something like that. But I wasnt thinking about results, other than I want to throw at least six or seven. Having A.J. back there helps you relaxhe knows what hes doing, hes been around a long time, and hes faced the same lineup two games already. It was fun.

If there was anything Humber was thinking of as he gritted his teeth and focused through the best game of his major league career, it was those people who were with him in the tough times, now around to celebrate the good.

Hopefully a lot of people got to see the game, on a weekend and everything, Humber said. Its been kind of a long road to this point, but its made me better as a person and a player. So Im thankful, basically.

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

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

The White Sox continue their road series with the Tigers on Tuesday night in the Motor City, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from Detroit starts at 6 p.m. Then be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)

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.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Berwyn-native and White Sox fan Isaiah Wright entered the world fighting the odds. At just 14 years old, he has undergone multiple organ transplants and more than 50 surgeries because of a rare birth defect.

Isaiah and his family have an appreciation for just how precious life can be and they were able to make the most of a recent visit to the South Side for a White Sox game, where he received VIP treatment and met his favorite players, including a private meeting with Jose Abreu.

Check out the video above.

A Go Fund Me page was also created to help support Isaiah and his family. Click here to make a donation.

Tigers' late homer sends the White Sox to another tough loss

Tigers' late homer sends the White Sox to another tough loss

DETROIT — The White Sox still haven’t figured out how to beat their American League Central foes.

Short of a miracle run over their final 32 games, the White Sox can point to their failures within their division as a primary reason they’ve missed the postseason for eight straight seasons.

The middle of the White Sox order missed out on several key chances on Monday night and kept the Detroit Tigers within striking distance in a 4-3 loss in front 27,201 on Monday night at Comerica Park. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer off Nate Jones in the eighth inning dropped the White Sox to 11-27 against the Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals this season. The White Sox dropped to 21-25 in one-run games.

“Usually when you have aspirations to get in the playoffs your No. 1 priority is always taking care of the teams in your division,” catcher Alex Avila said. “That’s the best way to go about it, and we haven’t really done that too well this year.”

Much like their postseason aspirations, the White Sox had been hanging on by a thread through seven innings on Monday.

Starter James Shields stranded seven in six innings, and the combination of Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Chris Beck kept the White Sox ahead 3-2 through the seventh.

Jones took over in the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to J.D. Martinez. Two batters later, Saltalamacchia ripped a 1-0 fastball out to right to put Detroit ahead for good.

Melky Cabrera’s bid for a game-tying homer in the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez was caught on the track in right-center field.

“Any time you get that reversal right there late in the game it’s always tough,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Nate has been as consistent as anybody. It’s a tough one, especially when you know he has his stuff. You tip your cap to them, really.

“Salty has gotten us a couple times late.

“That was the tough one because you grinded your way through it.”

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It was made even more difficult given the White Sox offense missed out on several key opportunities.

Tyler Saladino drove in all three White Sox runs, delivering a two-run single in the fourth inning and putting them back ahead by a run with a solo homer in the seventh.

But in the first, Jose Abreu struck out and Todd Frazier flew out with two aboard.

Abreu later grounded into a double play in the fifth after the first two men reached and Frazier grounded out. Frazier also struck out with two in scoring position to end the seventh inning after Abreu doubled Cabrera over to third.

The White Sox finished 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.

“It was a game with opportunities we didn’t cash in on,” Ventura said. “(Alex) Wilson came in and got a big double play really changed how that (fifth) inning developed. We did some good things but looking at it like this, that’s what makes it tough.”

Though he pushed the limit in nearly every inning, Shields finished a rough August on a high note. Much like he did when he posted a 1.71 ERA in six starts from June 29-July 26, Shields was most effective when he needed to make the big pitch.

Tigers hitters were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven against Shields. During the six-game stretch, opposing hitters went 0-for-28 against Shields with runners in scoring position.

He struck out six and allowed two earned runs in six innings, putting the White Sox in position for a much-needed win.

“The first couple of innings I was a little erratic, but as the game went on, I got a little more comfortable and just made some pitches when I needed to,” Shields said. “Overall, I felt good out there, and unfortunately we lost the game.”