Chicago White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Stingy White Sox playoff starters

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Poetry in Pros: Stingy White Sox playoff starters

Monday, October 18, 2010
9:08 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

When Cliff Lee took the mound at Yankee Stadium on Monday night, he was carrying some weight on his shoulders, representing the best chance the Texas Rangers have of reaching the World Series for the first time in their history; tied 1-1 heading into game 3 with the series moving back to Gotham, two wins in Lees potential two starts in the series were essential to a Texas upset. Lee delivered, going eight innings and striking out 13 batters in a 8-0 Rangers win.

But its how Lee won his first two games of the playoffsand the way he started Game 3 on Mondaythat nearly made history.

Lee managed something done only 11 other times in history in his two starts against the Tampa Rays in the ALDS: Pitch at least seven innings without walking a batter. A nine-inning, no-walk effort on Monday would have put Lee in a tie for the longest such streak in major league history, with Carl Mays, who set the mark in three starts (all complete games) for the Yankees in the 1921 World Series, and Deacon Phillippe, who did exactly the same thing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903.

However, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning Lee missed high with a fastball to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on a 3-2 count, walking him and accounting for Lee's first - and only - free pass of the postseason.

Five pitchers in history have a longer streak than the one Lee carried into game 3, including Lee himself. The lefty spun 17 innings of walk-free hurling just a season ago, for the Philadelphia Phillies. Though he did eventually give up a walk to Teixeira, Lee was able to push his streak to 19.2 consecutive innings of no-walk baseball; setting a new personal high.

Tied with Lees streak of 16 innings pitched in the postseason without a walk heading into Monday's game were two Chicago White Sox heroes from 2005, Mark Buehrle and Jose Contreras.

Contreras started his streak with his win over the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and stretched through his loss in the opener of the ALCS vs. the Los Angeles Angels. In his 16-inning walk-less stretch, Contreras was 1-1 with 15 hits, five earned runs, 10 strikeouts and a 2.81 ERA.

Buehrle is a more interesting study. Hes issued just one free pass in his 30 23-inning postseason careerand it was an intentional walk, to Manny Ramirez in the third inning of Game 2 of the ALDS vs. Boston. But even counting that IBB, Buehrle still could possess the third-longest walkless streak in playoff history (adding his 2008 playoff start vs. the Rays), if not for his 13-inning relief appearance en route the save in the World Series clincher vs. Houston.

So although Buehrle has an active streak of 27 straight innings pitched in the playoffs without giving up a walk, that single relief appearance in 2005 snapped his streak of startingseven-inning efforts sans walks.

During his own 16-inning starting streak in 2005, however, Buehrle went 1-0 with a complete game, gave up 12 hits and five earned runs, with 10 Ks and a 2.81 ERA.

See the complete list of stingy postseason starters here.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Why Yoan Moncada's slow start with White Sox could soon be a thing of the past

Why Yoan Moncada's slow start with White Sox could soon be a thing of the past

Yoan Moncada wrapped up his first Crosstown Series — in front of the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere he’ll experience in, likely, a while — with an 0-4 showing in the White Sox 6-3 loss to the Cubs on Thursday. 

The 22-year-old had mixed results facing the defending World Series champions, striking out four times in five at-bats on Monday and hitting his first career home run off Jake Arrieta on Wednesday. His final numbers for these four Crosstown games: 17 plate appearances, two hits, two walks, two runs, eight strikeouts and one hit by pitch. 

Moncada is off to a slow start in his second stint in the majors, but he’s drawing plenty of walks (12.5 percent) and probably has been victimized by some bad luck (a .118 batting average on balls in play which, to say the least, is exceedingly low). 

Manager Rick Renteria, though, likes Moncada’s even-keeled demeanor and his ability to handle the ups and downs of the day-to-day grind of the regular season. 

“What he’s going to be able to do is minimize how much he gets wrapped up in frustration, as opposed to taking the at-bat, the last at-bat, going through pitch by pitch and trying to figure out what it was he wrapped in his approach,” Renteria said. “Younger players usually get very, very frustrated and lose that moment to gain some knowledge. Failure is not in and of itself a bad thing. It’s actually something that can produce a lot of positives. The thing is to try to get them to understand as quickly as possible so they can take those moments and gain information. 

“That’s why his even-keeled approach and even-keeled attitude (will help). He’s got fire. It’s not that he doesn’t care. That’s where people — for a lot of players who are calm or even-keeled, they have fire, they have desire, but they know how to compartmentalize and separate those things and try to gain something from every moment, positive or negative.”

Moncada already took that clear-eyed approach to self-evaluation in the minor leagues, and said that hasn’t changed now that he’s at baseball’s highest level. 

“I’m just keeping the same routine that I was using in the minors,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “And the whole year, I’m just keeping with the things that have been giving me results.”

There’s not much of a common thread between Moncada’s brief call-up with the Boston Red Sox last September and his first few games with the White Sox. Moncada was overmatched in his 2016 debut, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances and only drawing one walk. He had four hits, though, so his way-too-small-sample-size BABIP was .571. 

Moncada looks like a different player this year, carrying over his strong Triple-A walk rate (13.6 percent) to his nascent tenure with the White Sox. Eventually, the hits are likely to start falling as long as he doesn’t get out of the approach that got him here — and made him baseball’s biggest prospect in the process. 

“He’s been doing all the work that he has to do to adjust to this level,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “He’s been doing his same routine from Triple-A and I think that’s something good because you have to stick with the things that are giving you good results.” 

Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

Nearly eight months into their rebuild, the White Sox have accrued an eye-popping amount of young talent. The franchise continues to receive kudos even in trading a pair of relievers this week to add depth to what might be the best farm system in baseball.

But having the best farm system -- the White Sox have eight of MLBPipeline.com’s top 100 prospects -- won’t mean much until it’s realized.

Well versed on the subject having experienced it on his own, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo acknowledged before Thursday’s 6-3 win over the White Sox just how uncertain the rebuilding process can be. In Rizzo’s eyes, it wasn’t just talent that got the Cubs over the hump, it was timing, too.

“It happened fast, but it could have went the other way, too,” Rizzo said. “We’re lucky with how everything turned out. Plus, a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

[MORE: Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors]

Similar to Yoan Moncada’s arrival last week, Rizzo was the first [hyped prospect to be promoted] after Theo Epstein’s plan went into place. Acquired the previous winter from San Diego, Rizzo reached the majors midway through the 2012 season with the Cubs only a few months into their rebuild. The three-time All-Star didn’t know it at the time, but he was the first new face the Cubs would introduce to their audience. While Rizzo often [was aware of skepticism of Epstein’s plan], he said he never felt the same pressure from fans. Rizzo also said he can understand why not all the Cubs faithful were on board.

“I think I was naïve and happy to be back in the big leagues,” Rizzo said. “You’ve just got to focus on playing baseball and not worry about everything else that you can’t control.

“I didn’t feel (pressure) at all. I know people were calling for the upper front office’s jobs. But they had a plan and they had a vision and they preached it the entire time.”

“As a fan I can understand why you get upset because you want to win. As a fan of football or whatever sport, if my team doesn’t win, I get mad. But obviously they knew what they were doing.”

So far the White Sox fan base has been mostly supportive of Rick Hahn’s efforts and embraced the idea of building through the farm system. But not everyone is on board with a 25-man roster teardown that appears to have the club hurtling toward its first 100-loss season since 1970.

This week’s Crosstown series is a reminder there are tough times ahead for the White Sox.

The Cubs lost a combined 197 games in 2012 and 2013 and 89 games in 2014. The second half of the 2017 season could be extremely difficult for a White Sox club that has traded Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings all since December.

Rizzo thinks the way the Cubs handled those difficulties played into their success in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s life,” Rizzo said. “There are tough times in anything. There are going to be good times and bad times so it’s all about how you approach it and how you handle it.

“We always knew the potential we had, it was just a matter of going out and doing it. Ball’s bouncing your way, calls going your way and staying together.”