Saturday, October 2, 2010
Updated 10:27 PM
By Brett Ballantini
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.
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.