Sox Drawer: Offensively Offensive

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Sox Drawer: Offensively Offensive

Monday, April 12, 2010
5:40 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

A week into the baseball season, everything gets magnified. Good is great. Great is gargantuan. Whats better than gargantuan? Well...

How about the Braves' Martin Prado? Hes batting .542.
Twins closer Jon Rauch has 4 saves, to go with about 60 tattoos.

Last year the Jays' Alex Gonzalez hit eight home runs. Hes already belted four. All solo shots. Meaning if he keeps this up, hell finish the season with 108 HRs and 108 RBIs.

I dont know much, but what I do know is that none of those guys are this good. And yes, the White Sox offense is not this bad.

It just feels like it.

In the opening six-game homestand, the Sox batted .203, second to last in the majors. The individual batting averages look like Bill Meltons scorecards after 18 holes:

Juan Pierre .125
Mark Kotsay .154
Alex Rios .174
Alexei Ramirez .182

Id personally take Mark Teahens average of .071. 17 pars and a birdie.

The biggest frustration is probably Pierre. When hes on, he slaps the ball into every open space on the field, and motors around the bases like Speedy Gonzales. But when hes off, like now, theres no motor, no Speedy, just a guy batting .125.

Slow starts are nothing new for Pierre. Just ask your friendly Cubs fan. In 2006, Pierre was ice cold in April and May, but then went on to lead the majors in hits with 204.

Glass half-full? Juan turned it around.
Glass half-empty? The Cubs were out of it by June and it didnt matter (a belief held by 100 percent of my Northside friends).

This is Pierres first season in the American League. Hes got some pitchers to figure out. Give him some time. But have you noticed a certain leadoff hitter who has been tearing it up so far this season? Maybe youve heard of him:

Scott Podsednik.

Monday, the 05 World Series hero had his second four-hit game in less than a week for the Royals. Hes batting .444 with five stolen bases, and is currently the best player on my fantasy baseball team. Not bad for a 26th round pick. But even I know better. Pods isnt this good.

But again, everything is magnified.

And yet, there is one dose of White Sox reality that you cannot overstate. Sunday, a Sox pinch-hitter actually drove in a run. Last year it took 109 games for this to happen. Andruw Jones did it in game number six.

The bench is better. The offense will be better. Unfortunately, theyve got 4 games this week in Toronto, where they havent won since 2007, and scored just 8 runs in 4 games last year.

A lot of weird things happen in that place, Ozzie Guillen said. Hopefully, things will turn around there, and we can come back with a smile on our face.

You can watch the smiling faces of Bill Melton and I on White Sox Post-Game Live Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday night.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 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: Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields’ time with the White Sox has not gone well. But Monday night was one of the bright spots, and it came against his former team.

Shields allowed just one run in his six innings of work against the visiting Tampa Ray Bays — with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career — and earned his first win since July 26 as the White Sox opened this four-game set with a 7-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the Rays off the bases Monday, running into jams with multiple base runners on in four of his six innings. But he did keep them off the scoreboard, for the most part, getting some help from his defense with a couple double plays. He finished allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts over his six innings.

The win was his first in two months after a brutal August — six starts with four losses and an 11.42 ERA — and a couple of rough outings in September. It was Shields’ sixth victory on the season and fourth since joining the White Sox compared to 18 losses on the season, 11 coming with the White Sox.

“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now. Body feels good, arm feels good, so hopefully I can get another win on Saturday to end my season and move into next year.”

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With just one more start on his schedule in the season’s final week, Shields won’t lose a visually upsetting 20 games. Avoiding that number might not make losing 18 or 19 much easier for fans and observers to swallow, but teammates understand what Shields has gone through this season.

“I think we’ve all been through it once or maybe even twice in our career. He works his butt off, though,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He looks at film. He watches everything he’s doing. To come out with the strong outing today, even in the first inning, getting two runners on and getting out of that jam, it goes to show you his resilience. Whenever he got runners on, he looked relaxed and induced a lot of ground balls which we needed.”

Certainly Shields’ teammates picked him up Monday. The two double plays while he was in the game were just half the infield’s total on the night, two more coming in the seventh and eighth, when Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones put the first two hitters they faced on in each frame. But the double plays helped end those threats and keep the Rays down.

The White Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, Melky Cabrera scoring on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, the White Sox punched back, Frazier doubling, stealing third base and scoring on Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of that inning.

And as Shields and the relief corps danced out of jams, the White Sox added to their score. Jose Abreu singled in a run in the fifth, but it was a pair of two-run homers off the bats of Morneau and Carlos Sanchez in the seventh and eighth innings that provided the real insurance.

The win was the third straight for the White Sox, something that while positive won’t provide much solace in a season where competing for a playoff spot is a distant memory.

But, like Shields finishing his season strong, White Sox players in general can create individual momentum for each of their offseasons and into next year with good finishes to 2016.

“We want to end on a positive note,” Frazier said. “Everybody wants to meet their goals. Baseball is the most individualistic team sport there is. You have to have your individual goals just like your team goals, and our team goals are out the door right now. You don’t want to play for yourself, but at the same time play for your pitcher a little bit and help him out.”