Pierre paces Sox victory in rain-shortened contest

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Pierre paces Sox victory in rain-shortened contest

Saturday, October 2, 2010
Updated 10:27 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO It has been the almost interminable refrain from Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen: Speed, speed and more speed, supported by a smattering of iconic clichs, like speed never has a slump.

While its ironic that Guillen has often been saddled with teams that could accomplish little more than station-to-station, automaton baserunning, this season, running was in order. Ozzies band of brusque baserunners have swiped 158 bags on the season, the most since 1992 (160), and stand a fair chance of edging even that Tim Raines-led club with one game left.

Carving a war path on the basepaths has been Juan Pierre, with 66 steals heading into the Saturdays action, the second-most in White Sox history.

Guillen has been singing Pierres praises all season long, and has positively flipped his wig as summer has switched to fall. More than once in recent weeks hes placed Pierre on his short list (two or three) of all-time favorite players. Before tonights game, he went so far as to say that if he had a son entering the major leagues, hed want him to play just like Juan Pierre.

Guillens favorite base-snagger added a bag on Saturday nighthis second steal of home plate in the past two weeksto register the first White Sox run in an eventual rain-shortened, 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Pierre walked to lead off the game and then used his speed to terrorize Wahoos shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera into an error on Omar Vizquels apparent double-play grounder.

Cabrera knows hes got to get rid of it with me, and Omar still runs pretty good too, so Cabrera definitely has a quick decision to make, Pierre said. It looked like he was trying to flip it to second and it didnt come out. Youve got to put pressure on the defense, and it worked out well for us in that first inning.

Pierre scooted to third on Paul Konerkos fly out to Shin-Soo Choo in mid-right, setting up the double-steal.

Today was an easy onesecond baseman Jayson Nix didnt even make a throw, said Pierre, who estimated he had one or two steals of home before 2010 but has never had a straight steal of home plate. Those are always good, steals when you dont have to slide.

In the White Sox dugout, Guillen leaned back and smiled, giddy with the whip-smart speed in front of him.

Pierre is a game away from becoming the second player in baseball history (along with Ron LeFlore) to lead both the American and National Leagues in stolen bases, as well as becoming the first White Sox player since Luis Aparicio in 1961 to lead the majors in steals.

Inspired by its pesky leadoff man, Chicagos scrappy O scored a second run without benefit of a hit, as in the second inning Tyler Flowers led off with a walk, was advanced on grounders by Brent Morel and Alejandro De Aza and scored on a wild pitch from Wahoos starter Carlos Carrasco.

We scored two runs without a hit, just like in 2005 when youd look up on the board and wed be winning every game without a hit, a guy would get on with a walk, stolen base, sac fly, wed be up, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle said.

Strangely, the semi-comic tone of the early game was set well before the blustery, wet weather better suited for gridiron than diamond set in. Cleveland even managed to tie the score under strange circumstances in the third, plating one in standard fashion on a Cabrera single but earning the equalizer off of a Buehrle balk that scored Michael Brantley.

Again, Buehrle saw comparisons to Chicagos title season: It was kind of like 2005Carrasco had a no-hitter in the fourth inning, and were tied 2-2.

But in that fourth inning, Chicago surged ahead for good, as De Aza doubled and Brent Lillibridge plated two on a single. Dayan Viciedo finished out the White Sox scoring by spanking a solo shot to left in the sixth.

The rain delay started at 7:52 p.m., just after Buehrle had completed his warm-ups for the seventh inning, prompting the southpaw to mock-slam his glove to the ground as teammates walked off of the field. Why?

I was trying for 100 strikeouts, which is kind of embarrassing, you have 33 starts and cant strike out 100 guys, but obviously Im not a strikeout pitcher, Buehrle said. I needed four today, and every time I got two strikes on a guy you heard the whole bench yelling, like, Cmon, one more strikeout!. Seems I get two strikes on guys, but I dont have that put-away pitch.

The record-denying rain delay lasted 1:03 before the game was called, at 8:55 p.m., granting Buehrle a .500 season (13-13) and the White Sox their eighth win in 10 games.

Magic Number: 526

Pierre now has 526 career stolen bases, good for 30th on the all-time list and trailing 29th-place Herman Long by 11.

Final Word

I was hoping to get out there for one more inning and try to get a strikeout, but when you have 201 innings to get 100 and you dont get it, its just not meant to be.Buehrle on finishing the 2010 season with 99 strikeouts.

Tomorrow on the Mound

The White Sox send out Edwin Jackson, who is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. Jackson has been an Indians killer in his career, going 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 2.19 KBB. The 2.63 ERA is Jacksons lowest against any team hes pitched against in at least four games. In nine career games at U.S. Cellular Field, Jackson is 2-3 with a 4.24 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 2.18 KBB. And in SeptemberOctober starts, Jackson is 10-14 in his career with a 6.05 ERAa mark nearly a run worse than any other month of his careerand a 1.63 WHIP and 1.73 KBB.

Cleveland runs out Justin Germano, who is 0-2 with a 2.16 ERA on the season. The righty has pitched just two career innings vs. the White Sox, with an 0-1 record and 13.50 ERA, his worst mark against any major league team. While never having pitched in U.S. Cellular Field, Germano is a fairly horrific 0-6 in his career SeptemberOctober starts, with a 6.48 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and 2.31 KBB.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms 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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.”