Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

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Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

Friday, July 30, 2010
Updated 11:45 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

While there was one significant change for the Chicago White Sox on Friday, a key constant remained: Home winning.

Mere hours after swapping rookie fifth starter Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson, the Chicago 9 trotted out onto the familiar turf of U.S. Cellular Field for yet another win, 6-1 over the Oakland As. The White Sox have won 12 straight and 19 of their last 20 at home.

Rookie Lucas Harrell, an early-morning call-up from the Class AAA Charlotte Knights, wound his way through six eventful innings to earn the win. In his first big-league start, the righty scattered four hits and five walks, striking out one. Harrell became the first White Sox starter since Kip Wells in 1999 to win his major league debut.

When I got the call this morning, I thought it was Brent Morel playing a trick on me, a beer-soaked Harrell said postgame. Then I heard, No, this is really Buddy Bell.

Thats a big day for Harrell, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I was glad. It was a special day for everyone. It doesn't get better than that.

The White Sox, who are now 3-1 in the rotation spot vacated by Jake Peavy, struck first, beginning with an Ozzieball run in their first at-bats: Juan Pierre leading off with an infield single, a one-out steal, and an Alex Rios RBI base knock.

Yesterday, we had four home runs, Guillen said. Today, we scored in different ways. We pick each other up. We dont have to wait for just one guy.

Despite just getting the call to the Show this morning, Harrell admitted being amped on the plane ride north. With no Major League Debut Motorcade available paging Mayor Daley, Harrell was tied up in traffic and didnt hit the clubhouse until 5:15, when he was embraced by former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo, who started at third base and cruised to a 3-for-3 night.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski trotted to the mound on more than one occasion to calm the rookie, who admitted both pregame and in-game jitters.

A.J. just came out and said, 'be yourself, thats what got you here, Harrell said.

That simple advice worked, as Harrell worked out of several jams, stranding seven As baserunners. His biggest scare came in the second, when Harrell walked the bases loaded with two outs and escaped when Daric Bartons deep fly to center fell five feet short of a grand slam.

We were pulling for him, said Paul Konerko, who admitted he didnt have a feel for how Harrell was pitching because he wasnt sure if hed ever played behind him in a spring training game. They werent getting great swings on him, but that ball to the warning track carries a little, that would have been a different game.

In the fourth, the As briefly tied the game when Mark Ellis led off with a single to center and was advanced to third on Gabe Gross and Rajai Davis groundouts. Oakland scratched what would be its only run off Harrell when Cliff Pennington lined a single off the pitcher, scoring Ellis.

The tie didnt last long, as Konerko led off the fifth with a blast to right-center that fell just a few feet short of a home run, which would have made for his fifth straight game with a round-tripper. The first baseman settled for a double, and was driven home by Pierzynskis single. Viciedo pushed the feisty backstop to third with a double, and both runners would score before the inning was extinguished, Pierzynski on an Andruw Jones ground out and Viciedo on a Gordon Beckham single.

Chicago added two more tallies, in the sixth on another RBI single from Beckham and the seventh on a Konerko sacrifice fly.

Oaklands rally attempt in the eighth, having put two men on with none out, was extinguished with the first pitch from Tony Pena, who induced a double play from Kevin Kouzmanoff, then retired Ellis on a ground out to tourniquet the As on two pitches.

That was a big thing for us, Guillen said of Penas work. We didnt want to have to use Matt Thornton or Bobby Jenks. Two pitches, three outs, thats perfect.

Beckham, who made his major-league debut last season under slightly less tense circumstances, was full of admiration for Chicagos spot starter.

The first game is tough, and Harrells circumstances were not easy, he said. He was asked to help keep us in first place.

The rookie is already on his way back south to make room for new acquisition Edwin Jackson, but on a key transition day at the end of July, he did just that.

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 kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Oakland Athletics tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

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

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (4-7, 5.40 ERA)

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

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

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

MINNEAPOLIS -- Some guys played cards. The soccer ball got kicked around in spite of the close quarters in the visiting clubhouse. There was dancing. A magic trick or two was attempted. A few players even tried to get in a nap.

White Sox players found myriad ways to keep themselves occupied during Thursday’s draining 4-hour, 50-minute rain delay -- the longest in Minnesota Twins history.

Yet despite not knowing what time the game may start, White Sox players found a way to overcome the uncertainty and stay engaged. Similar to May 26 when the first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers was cancelled, the White Sox figured out how to go from zero to 60 in mere seconds. Though there’s no exact formula for success, the White Sox seem to have figured out a way to endure the elements and get out quickly. On early Thursday evening, the White Sox overcame the rain and misery to jump ahead of the Minnesota Twins en route to a 9-0 victory at Target Field.

“We keep it real loose whether,” veteran third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We have a good time. We enjoy each other’s company. Win lose or draw, tomorrow’s a new day. Today we kept working hard and we knew we had a game to play and eventually we were going to play it. We turned it on at the right moment.”

Jose Quintana saw so much of his iPad that eventually he had to turn it off out of sheer boredom. Thursday’s starting pitcher was almost able to complete two feature-length movies during the rain delay. Quintana, who excelled with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, watched ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and ‘Get Out’ on his iPad during the delay.

While he liked the action movie, Quintana wasn’t as fond of the latter, though he admits he’s not a big fan of horror movies.

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“I think it was bad because too much time in front of the iPad,” Quintana said. “It made me bored.

“I just tried to stay relaxed, focused on the game. … Tried to come back and work a little bit. It’s a little hard, but we don’t have control so stay focused on the game.”

Whereas the White Sox determined when they played last month at home -- they cancelled Game 1 of a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and pushed the second game back to 8 p.m. because of rain -- this time was in the Twins’ hands. The forecast called for rain all afternoon before things cleared up around 5 p.m.

While the White Sox were in limbo as to when they would play, they had a pretty good idea that eventually they would.

“It’s miserable,” Frazier said. “You try and find some things to do, play cards, hang out with the guys. If you had a set time it would help. But we came out banging in that first inning. It’s huge.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria is impressed with how his team has handled both long days. The White Sox also defeated the Tigers 8-2 on May 26th. While Renteria and his coaching staff spent a lot of his time preparing for their upcoming home series against the Oakland A’s, he’s pleased with how his players managed themselves through the uncertainty.  

“They’re the ones who are dealing with the chaos,” Renteria said. “They’re the ones who play the game and who have to have their minds to be ready to go out and perform. They’ve been able to respond well. It’s part of who they are, their character, and hopefully it’s something they continue to be able to do and build on.”