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.

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”