Poetry in Pros: Buehrle picks, White Sox grin

208993.jpg

Poetry in Pros: Buehrle picks, White Sox grin

Sunday, July 18, 2010
1:31 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS - Contrary to popular rumor, Mark Buehrle doesnt pick off every runner he allows to reach first. It just seems that way.

With depantsings of Denard Span and Delmon Young last night, Buehrle has picked off 72 runners since his first full season in 200127 more than the New York Yankees Andy Pettitte, who has the next-best total in that time span.

The White Sox mainstay has 76 career pickoffs, which trails all-time leader Steve Carlton (144) considerably. However, every other pickoffs leader is squarely in Buehrles sights: Pettitte (99), Kenny Rogers (94), Mark Langston (91), Jerry Koosman (82), Randy Johnson (81) and Greg Swindell (77).

Somebodys figured out my move, because I dont pick everybody off, said Buehrle with a smile, regarding his masterful move. I give credit to Joey Cora, who calls all our moves to first.

Clearly, the southpaw has a real gift for fooling opposing runners. Even runners without aggressive leads and who arent a major danger to steal (paging Young, who appeared to be leading off in molasses in the fourth inning last night) are frozen by Buehrles cagey play off the mound.

Hes good, real good, said Span, with 16 steals in 17 tries Minnesotas only true base-stealing threat. I thought I got back last night, but the move is tough. You want the best lead you can, but a great move can freeze you and sometimes you react too late.

Buehrle also gives credit to Paul Konerko for sneaky-quick tags at first. While that was evident in both picks last night, Konerko deflects any credit.

Buehrle is the one who does the dirty work fooling runners, Konerko says. The challenge of making sure you have the ball and get a quick tag down, that doesnt compare.

The lefty rather famously missed out on a perfect game en route to his first no-hitter vs. the Texas Rangers in 2007, walking Sammy Sosa. But Buehrle gets an unofficial, asterisked perfecto for immediately picking Sosa off of first and facing the minimum 27 batters.

Thats sort of how Buehrle looks at letting runners onhed rather not, but if theyre lollygagging over at first base, why not make em pay?

You cant lose focus on the hitter, but I do want to make a runner think, Buehrle said. An out is an out, and my goal is to get my 27 any way I can, as quickly as I can.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Preview: White Sox open series with Royals Monday on CSN

Preview: White Sox open series with Royals Monday on CSN

The White Sox open a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals Monday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: Jason Vargas (3-0, 0.44 ERA) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (2-0, 2.84 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

White Sox snap skid by forcing, capitalizing on Indians' mistakes

White Sox snap skid by forcing, capitalizing on Indians' mistakes

White Sox force, capitalize on Indians' mistakes 

The White Sox haven't had many opportunities to capitalize on mistakes from their opponents lately because they haven't been in a position to force them. 

But in their 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox put the pressure on the defending American League champions and reaped the results. 

Two plays stand out, both of which came in the sixth inning. After Omar Narvaez drew a leadoff walk, Jacob May put down a well-placed sacrifice bunt between the pitcher's mound and first base line. Indians first baseman Carlos Santana charged in and turned to underhand a toss to second baseman Michael Martinez, who was covering first. 

But the speedy May was hustling down the line, which forced Martinez to awkwardly stretch for the ball. He dropped it, allowing May to reach. 

"Anytime you you have players that are forcing defenses to complete plays you can put them in an awkward position," manager Rick Renteria said. "I don't know that that led to that in particular but he busted his rear end down the line."

That error paid off for the White Sox three batters later — after Tim Anderson and Tyler Saladino struck out — when Melky Cabrera singled to left. Narvaez was aggressively waved home by third base coach Nick Capra (a common practice with two out) but looked to be easily out at the plate on Brandon Guyer's throw. Again, though, forcing the issue paid off: Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez dropped Guyer's throw, allowing Narvaez to score. 

"That's kind of what we've been stressing in spring, play with your hair on fire," Anderson said. "That's definitely something that we've been working on and that's something we can control, that energy level and the way we hustle."

The White Sox were sparked by a three-run first inning, which ended a stretch of 23 consecutive innings without scoring a run. Anderson began with a double off Indians starter Danny Salazar and, after Saladino singled, scored on Cabrera's sacrifice fly. 

Jose Abreu followed with a line drive to right, which fell in front of outfielder Abraham Almonte and skipped past him for a two-base error, allowing Saladino to score. Leury Garcia later delivered a two-out single to score Abreu. 

"Everybody knows how good this Cleveland pitchers are, especially the first two games with (Carlos) Carrasco and (Corey) Kluber," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Our offense was silent. But today we had more life against Salazar. We know him and we did our job."

The White Sox cruised behind that three-run first inning and a solid start from left-hander Derek Holland, who allowed one run over six innings. Holland's only mistake was a third inning hanging curveball to Francisco Lindor, who launched it for a solo home run. But he came back two innings later and struck out Lindor with the bases loaded on another curveball, ending Cleveland's best scoring threat of the game. 

"Just because something happens you got to turn the page and not worry about those kind of things, and get ready for the next one," Holland said. "He may have got me that first time but I got him the second time. So those are the kind of things, you never let something take you away from your game."