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.

White Sox lose third straight, fall to Twins in 12 innings

White Sox lose third straight, fall to Twins in 12 innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Now that he’s an All-Star, Jose Quintana feels more responsibility for the well-being of the White Sox, if that’s even possible.

Too bad his teammates haven’t held up their end.

On Friday night, Quintana continued a superb run since he returned from his first All-Star Game with nine strikeouts. But the White Sox couldn’t match their pitcher’s confidence as the offense produced six hits and the bullpen faltered late in a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 12 innings in front of 23,983 at Target Field. Tommy Kahnle’s bases-loaded walk of Joe Mauer sent the White Sox, who were without Todd Frazier, to their third straight loss. Their record dropped to 50-53.

“After (the All-Star Game), I feel more confidence in me and more responsibility for my team, too,” Quintana said. “We have good players, a good rotation, everybody is throwing good and good hitters. But sometimes you see tough games like tonight.”

Quintana has been outstanding in three starts since he earned his first-ever All-Star nod earlier this month. He didn’t take long to establish that fact on Friday after the first two batters reached on a double and an error, striking out Minnesota’s 3-4-5 hitters to escape the jam. Starting with those strikeouts, Quintana retired 13 of 15 batters into the sixth inning.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

While he allowed the Twins to tie it at 1 with a run in the sixth, Quintana escaped a potential game-changing jam. Adam Eaton offered assistance when he threw Miguel Sano out at home on Kennys Vargas’s game-tying RBI single. But Quintana stranded a pair in scoring position when he struck out Eduardo Escobar. He retired two more in the seventh before handing the game over to the bullpen.

Since the All-Star break, Quintana has a 0.93 ERA over 19 1/3 innings in three starts. He has allowed 16 hits and two runs with five walks and 20 strikeouts. Even so, Quintana often goes unrewarded for his effort as his 8-8 record would indicate.

“I stood in on a lot of his bullpens when I was coming back,” said veteran Jusin Morneau, who went 1-for-3 in his first regular season game at Target Field since 2013. “You could just stand there because you didn’t have to worry about him missing his spot too often. He can throw pretty hard and throw where he wants to. It’s unfortunate we don’t score more runs when he’s out there because he could easily be 14 and whatever the way he’s throwing the ball. He’s an important part of this team.”

Another key cog, Frazier was scratched with flu-like symptoms before first pitch. He was only available in an emergency, manager Robin Ventura said. Without Frazier, the White Sox looked listless against Ricky Nolasco, who completed eight innings for the first time since 2014.

Eaton -- who had two outfield assists and has 16 this season -- led off the game with a 451-foot solo homer off Nolasco. From there Nolasco settled down and retired 15 of 17 into the sixth inning. Morneau’s second-inning single just missed being a solo homer. But aside from that, the White Sox did little well.

[RELATED: Robin Ventura doesn't want to see Sale or Quintana traded]

They had a promising chance wiped out in the seventh inning after a leadoff double by Melky Cabrera as Nolasco struck out Jose Abreu and retired Morneau and Dioner Navarro.

Nolasco allowed a run and three hits with six strikeouts in eight innings.

The bullpen then shut the White Sox down for four more innings. Dan Jennings took over in the bottom of the 12th and hit one batter and walked another. Kahnle took over and walked Brian Dozier and Mauer to end the game.

“You feel like you gave it to ‘em,” Ventura said. “We’ve been struggling anyway. But I think with his breaking ball, (Nolasco) just had us fishing for strikes. … It seemed like we were chasing stuff all night.

“All (losses) hurt. But when you’re only chalking up one run and guys are going out and pitching pretty good, that’s the one that hurts.”

Justin Morneau returns to White Sox lineup, Target Field for first time

Justin Morneau returns to White Sox lineup, Target Field for first time

MINNEAPOLIS -- If the White Sox needed a reminder how much they missed having a left-handed bat earlier this season, the last two games without Justin Morneau confirmed it.

Forced out of the lineup because of National League rules, Morneau on Friday returned to a White Sox lineup that struggled in his absence in a pair of losses at Wrigley Field. It’s the same issue that has dogged the White Sox throughout the regular season until Morneau was activated two weeks ago after Adam LaRoche unexpectedly retired.

Friday’s contest also marked Morneau’s first regular season appearance at Target Field against his former since he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

“When he’s not in there it really changes a lot of the dynamic for us of where guys are, how deep your lineup is, as well as just having a really good left-hander in the middle of it, a consistent guy who not only can hit, but takes pitches, walks, is a threat and he’s not a half bad guy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s back here and I think guys are happy for him that he’s back here as well.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

There’s little doubt the White Sox missed Morneau at Wrigley Field when they combined for 10 hits and were outscored 11-2 by the Cubs in two losses. Even though he’s only two weeks removed from the disabled list, Morneau has already offered the White Sox the balance they desperately needed in the middle of the order since LaRoche called it quits.

Morneau, who had elbow surgery in December and then rushed to get back as quickly as he could after he signed in June, likes how his swing has progressed so far. Perhaps the one upside to his absence -- Morneau said the two-day break has him feeling even better as the White Sox opened a three-game series at the Minnesota Twins.

“The swing feels good,” Morneau said. “A couple days off helped my body recover a little and sort of recharge the battery coming in here. I feel I can go up there and battle, like I can put at-bats together, guys in scoring position all that stuff. It’s fun to be out there in situations, that’s what I kind of enjoy the most.

"The amount of work it takes to get ready isn’t the fun part, but stepping into the batter’s box and battling those guys is really all we play for. I’m comfortable doing that, and it’s good.”

Even with the addition of Todd Frazier’s team-leading 29 home runs, the White Sox offense has only shown slight improvement this season in part because the team was so right-handed heavy until Morneau was activated on July 15. The White Sox entered Friday having scored four runs per game, which is up from 3.84 in 2015. The team carried a .699 OPS against right-handers into the game.

Even though LaRoche had the worst season of his life in 2015, the White Sox were short-handed once he retired. The original plan had been a rotation between Melky Cabrera-Austin Jackson-Avisail Garcia and LaRoche between two outfield spots and the DH role. Instead, Garcia was forced into full-time action and Ventura often had to bat Melky Cabrera in the fifth spot to break up a run of four straight right-handed bats in the middle of the order.

Despite improved production from Frazier and Brett Lawrie at second, the White Sox have been inconsistent all season. Thursday’s loss was the 49th time in 102 games they scored three or fewer runs. Ventura said the need for a lefty bat implored the White Sox to take a risk and sign Morneau without knowing what they’ll receive.

[RELATED: Robin Ventura doesn't want to see Sale or Quintana traded]

“I think that’s the reason why we ended up going on a limb a little bit and going with him knowing we’d have to wait to have him in our lineup,” Ventura said. “Once we lost Adam we became very right-hand dominant. It’s tough to have for Jose and those guys to be in there and not have that left-right combo that you’d like to have.”

Morneau received the welcome he expected from the Twins fanbase. Even though he now wears a White Sox uniform, Morneau was received well. The American League Most Valuable Player in 2006, Morneau played for the Twins from 2003-13. His wife’s family lives locally and Morneau said he spends part of every offseason here.

“You never know when you go to a rival or play for a team in the same division that we battled against for so many years here, and to go on the other side of it, some people’s feeling might not be as warm as you’d hope them to be,” Morneau said. “But for the most people have been great to me and I don’t think I’d really expect anything else.”

White Sox: Robin Ventura doesn't want to see Sale or Quintana traded

White Sox: Robin Ventura doesn't want to see Sale or Quintana traded

MINNEAPOLIS -- He has considered the trade rumors and Robin Ventura doesn’t like the idea of a world in which Chris Sale or Jose Quintana aren’t White Sox players.

The White Sox manager said Friday that his job would be much more difficult were either front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher to be traded. While chances seem remote that either is dealt before Monday’s 3 p.m. CST nonwaiver trade deadline, Sale and Quintana continue to be mainstays in the rumor mill. And even though players often tell media they avoid rumors, Ventura said it’s almost impossible for them to avoid hearing the latest trade chatter and where they possibly could be headed.

“All you have to do is think about it for a second and realize it wouldn’t be as good if you don’t have those guys,” Ventura said. “That stuff, I think the time of year, it’s rampant. Everybody talking about people, and a lot of it can just be fans or people saying, ‘Trade this guy for that guy.’ But it’s not that easy. People have fun doing that and sometimes it gets the best of guys inside because, one, they’ll get their feelings hurt because they think that’s actually going on, and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

“Guys, it does distract them.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The latest news surrounding Sale is that the New York Yankees have reportedly checked in on him, according to Today’s Knuckeball’s Jon Heyman. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that there’s skepticism industrywide whether the White Sox would trade Sale before the deadline. But, Rosenthal added, the White Sox have listened now more than ever on Sale, who returned from a five-game suspension to pitch on Thursday.

Both the White Sox and Sale have said they want to move on from what the pitcher called “a fiasco” and focus on the team’s final 60 games. Sale reiterated on Thursday night that he wants to stay with the White Sox and see if the team can make a push for its first postseason appearance since 2008.

The White Sox began the day six games back of the second wild-card spot. Ventura thinks the club is better prepared to stick around in the race than they were in 2015, when they fell apart in August.

Where he spoke with Hahn every day while the team was in Chicago, Ventura won’t do that while the team is on the road. Prior to Thursday’s game, Ventura said he thinks the deadline will be relatively quiet.

“I don't want to see anybody go out of here,” Ventura said. “I don't think that's going to happen.”