Pierzynski lifts Sox in Liriano's debut

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Pierzynski lifts Sox in Liriano's debut

MINNEAPOLIS --- Quite a night for former Minnesota Twins.

Francisco Liriano pitched well in his White Sox debut and catcher A.J. Pierzynski crushed his old team with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in front of 36,424 at Target Field.

Liriano struck out eight in six strong innings and earned a no decision in what had to be an emotional outing against the only other team for which he had ever pitched.

Pierzynskis two-run blast to right off Jeff Gray landed in the top row of the bleachers to end a night in which the White Sox offense struggled. The blast also allowed the White Sox to gain a half-game on the Detroit Tigers, who trailed 4-1 against the Boston Red Sox in a game delayed by rain.

Matt Thornton (3-6) earned the victory with a scoreless inning pitched. Addison Reed allowed a run but earned his 17 th save in 20 tries.

Pierzynski, a full-time player for the Twins from 2001-03, ended a frustrating night for White Sox hitters when he crushed Grays 0-2 offering.

The White Sox had struggled to do anything against Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn, who entered the contest with a 7.99 ERA.

Blackburn limited the White Sox to two runs and five hits in eight inning. But all that was undone when Pierzynski ripped his career-high tying 18 th homer. Alex Rios started the inning with a single to left on an 0-2 pitch from Gray (5-1).

One day earlier, Liriano addressed the media and declared he felt weird after the move to his former division rivals.

But once Liriano took the mound it was evident he was back in a comfortable place.

While never razor-sharp, the left-hander flashed the electric stuff that has made him a household named since he broke into the league in 2006.

Liriano ended his first inning with the White Sox with a strikeout of former batterymate Joe Mauer. He struck out two more batters in the second inning and was quickly on his way.

Liriano did pitch deep in the count often and it caught up with him. He struck out six batters through four innings, but had also thrown 72 pitches.

He also started the sixth inning with a strikeout of Denard Span to give him 15 of 18 batters retired.

Then Liriano began to tire.

Trailing 1-0, Darin Mastroianni had a one-out infield single and Liriano followed with consecutive walks to Mauer and Josh Willingham. Justin Morneau tied the game with an RBI fielders choice and Danny Valencia singled in a run with two outs to give the Twins a 2-1 lead. Liriano then evaded further damage when Brian Dozier flew out to the warning track with the bases loaded.

Liriano threw a season-high 113 pitches in his Sox debut. He limited his former team to two earned runs and four hits in six innings and struck out eight while walked four batters.

In his previous two starts against the Sox, Blackburn allowed 14 earned runs in 9 13 innings. On Tuesday he couldnt be solved.

He retired the side in order in four of the first six innings.

The White Sox scored a run in the second when Rios doubled and moved to third on Pierzynskis single off the wall. Dayan Viciedo then gave the Sox a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly.

The White Sox then needed a rally all with two outs in the seventh to tie the game. Pierzynski walked and Viciedo singled before Alexi Ramirez tied it with a bloop single to left.

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

The White Sox will battle the Oakland Athletics today, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:05 p.m.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Kendall Graveman

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White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Those pesky, persistent trade rumors continue to be no match for White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana. 

The 2016 All-Star was outstanding on Thursday afternoon as he made his first Cactus League appearance in nearly a month. Still waiting on word if he'll be the team's Opening Day starter, Quintana pitched seven scoreless innings against a thin Cincinnati Reds lineup in a 4-2 White Sox victory at Camelback Ranch. 

Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts, Quintana limited Cincinnati to two hits in a 79-pitch outing and struck out three.

"I just try to turn the page quick and keep going," Quintana said. "Never watch behind me and try to go ahead every time I can. I want to put my team in a good position to win games. It's good when you win games in spring training. It brings good energy for the season."

Quintana on Thursday followed the same format he did for Colombia against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Reds hitters he faced. Even after he surrendered a hit, Quintana got back to work. Featuring a fastball that sat between 91-93 mph early, Quintana had Cincinnati hitters off-balance all day. After he exited the game, Quintana sprinted to the right-field bullpen to throw 15 more pitches as he continues to build arm strength.

The outing is more of the same consistency the White Sox have come to expect from their trusted lefty. It's also why they refuse to remove the high sticker price attached to Quintana, who has competed at least 200 innings the past four seasons with a 3.32 overall ERA in that span.

As Opening Day approaches, the White Sox continue to listen to offers for Quintana but have refused to budge on their price. Manager Rick Renteria said on Wednesday he needed a few more days before naming his starter for the April 3 opener, which suggests the team would still trade Quintana at this late date. But unless one of the team's suitors finally antes up, it's hard to believe that anyone other than Quintana would take the mound against the Detroit Tigers when the 2017 season kicks off at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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Quintana is on target to pitch again Tuesday, though perhaps in a minor league game as the White Sox face Kansas City that day. His next turn would come on April 2, which would easily afford the team the chance to push him back one day. 

Giving Quintana the nod in the opener would be the latest honor bestowed upon him. Earlier this month, Quintana dominated the eventual WBC champion as he didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. That performance came after an outstanding campaign in which Quintana finally appeared in an All-Star Game.

All of the above has Quintana feeling pretty good about his abilities. 

"I have confidence in me, and every time I go out there I just try to have fun and enjoy that time," Quintana said. "I spend good time with my teammates. Every time I go to the mound, I feel pretty good."

Nicky Delmonico homered and singled in a run in the victory for the White Sox. He drove in three runs and hit his third homer of the spring. Leury Garcia also had two hits and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second base.