Sox Drawer: Who, What... How?

Sox Drawer: Who, What... How?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted 7:50 p.m. Updated 10:19 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

What just happened? What is going on here?

Frankly, I have no idea.

One of the strangest days in White Sox memory began with the stunning news that Adam Dunn needed an emergency appendectomy after the game in Kansas City on Tuesday night. About six or seven percent of Americans will need their appendix taken out in their lifetime, so maybe thats not so strange. But the fact that Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday needed his removed last Friday after a game, also in the state of Missouri, things were starting to get weird.

The White Sox payroll in 2010 is 127 million, fifth highest in the majors. The Twins are at 112 million, the Tigers are 105 million. But when Wednesday began, who was in first place in the American League Central? The team with the absolute lowest payroll in all of baseball, the Kansas City Royals at 36 million. For perspective: Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, and Alex Rios will make 42 million combined.

And yet, there were the Royals, sitting pretty in the penthouse at 4-1. How did they do it?

I still have no idea.

The Royals first four wins, all in a row, came thanks to runs in their final at-bat. In over 110 years of baseball, how many teams have done this to start a season? Three. The 1901 Tigers, 1989 Royals, and these pesky 2011 Royals.

"These first five games have been the funnest five games I ever played in my life, said Royals DH Billy Butler.

Get used to it. Thats the character of this team, added first baseman Kila Ka'aihue.

And thats another thing. Weve entered this 2011 season realizing that we will have to learn how to pronounce Kila Ka'aihue. Hes not going away, and for the record, his name is pronounced Keela Kya-whooay. I have it written on a piece of paper at my desk so I wont forget. Dont even ask Bill Melton to say it, hes having enough trouble saying Shin-Soo Choo.

Fortunately for the White Sox, the Royals improbable streak mercifully ended on Wednesday. How?

Again, no idea.

The Sox trailed 5-0 after six innings. They have the offense to come back from that, even without Dunn. So no surprise there. But in the ninth inning, they were down 6-3 with two outs, nobody on, and facing Royals closer Joakim Soria - a White Sox killer, with 15 saves, 29 strikeouts and a 1.86 ERA in 27 career games.

The chances of the Sox tying the game? Right up there with Melton going on the air with a goatee. Okay, bad comparison.

But then it happened. Absolute random magic. Juan Pierre singled, Gordon Beckham walked, Rios singled, Paul Konerko singled, all capped off by a Carlos Quentin double that gave the Sox a 7-6 lead.

How this comeback occurred is so improbable and inconceivable, it should be studied by some of the greatest minds at Harvard and M.I.T.

Let's start with Quentin's double. He hit it on an 0-2 count. In his six-year career, Quentin is batting .167 on 0-2 counts with 54 strikeouts in 120 at-bats.

But that's only the start of it.

In Soria's career on 0-2 counts, hitters are batting just .058 against him with 71 strikeouts in 121 at-bats.

Crazy.

But wait. There's more.

The White Sox scored four runs off Soria in the 9th inning. Last year, Soria didnt give up more than three runs in a single MONTH.

"I never thought this was going to happen ever, Soria give up that many runs with two out," Guillen said.

"You've got to look at it as the beauty of baseball," Quentin said. "Sometimes that happens. Guys will lock in. Pitches are made and swings are put on pitches that are proper swings. We're well aware of what Soria has done in his career. He's a quality pitcher and today we were fortunate enough to come back."

The Sox then scored three runs in the 12th, with the game-winning hit coming from Brent Morel, thought to be the weakest hitter on the team.

The Sox won the game despite committing four errors, not counting the fly ball Lastings Milledge misplayed in the first inning, which was called a hit, and led to two first-inning runs off Buehrle. Mark Teahen also dropped a routine fly ball, right around the same spot.

Other oddities: Alexei Ramirez laid down a perfect bunt in the 12th, Chris Sale stopped a hot grounder from going into the outfield in the 12th by knocking it down with his rear end, which is about two inches in diameter.

"Crazy game. Very crazy game," Guillen said. "Both sides. But thank God we win."

All this to split a series with the Royals. What does it all mean?

No idea.

All I can say is, thats baseball. Get ready for a lot more of it.

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

Improved defense high on list of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada this spring

Improved defense high on list of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada this spring

MESA, Ariz. — Yoan Moncada applied some of his early work in camp to the field on Monday afternoon when he started a double play with a spectacular diving stop.

In his first start of the spring, the White Sox second baseman's dazzling play helped pitcher Lucas Giolito out of a first-inning jam. Moncada struck out in his only plate appearances as the White Sox and Cubs finished in a 4-4 tie in nine innings at Sloan Park.

"Definitely that play was unbelievable," Giolito said. "It really helped me get out of that inning. They had the momentum going, guys on base, nobody out. (Moncada) makes a play like that and they turn the double play, it's fantastic. It's really good defense to have behind you."

The top player acquired in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada has been described by some as not having a set position. There's a thought he might be better suited for third base or perhaps even center field. But Moncada prefers second base and that's where the White Sox intend to give him a chance.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said earlier this spring that Moncada has all the requisite tools needed to play second base, he just needs to fine tune. Renteria said the biggest area of refinement is footwork and getting Moncada to take less circular routes to the ball.

Moncada feels good about the work he's put in so far.

"It's nothing really hard, but you have to make adjustments," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I'm trying to have my legs a little more open. That's work we're doing right now on my defense.

"My focus is just to try to get better in every aspect of the game, my offense, my defense, my baserunning too. It's the mentality we have here right now, and I'm just trying to take advantage of it."

Moncada has appeared in all three White Sox games this spring. He's 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. 

Prospect Lucas Giolito debuts for White Sox in tie against Cubs

Prospect Lucas Giolito debuts for White Sox in tie against Cubs

MESA, Ariz. — One of the main points of emphasis for Lucas Giolito this spring is to consistently throw his curveball for strikes so hitters respect it.

The White Sox prospect was partly pleased with how he commanded his offspeed pitch on Monday as he debuted in a 4-4 tie between the White Sox and Cubs at Sloan Park. Giolito allowed a run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings pitched. He also surrendered a long home run to Addison Russell.

"I'd say in the first inning, I did an OK job of commanding a curveball for a strike," Giolito said. "I feel like when I throw it for a strike and can show I can throw it for a strike, that's when I can get more swings on it. The second inning, I kind of got away from it. I was kind of yanking them, throwing a lot in the dirt low and away, and a big-league hitter is just going to spit on that. I'm just going to continue to work on that, throwing a curveball for a strike, commanding a fastball especially down and away to righties."

The team's top pitching prospect was pleased with how he commanded his fastball in to righties and away to left-handed hitters. He also was happy with his changeup.

Beyond that, Giolito displayed some fight when he worked his way into trouble. Courtesy of a nice diving stop by Yoan Moncada, Giolito induced a double play off Anthony Rizzo's bat after Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant singled to start the bottom of the first inning. Following Russell's no-doubt homer in the second inning, Giolito struck out Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras and worked around a two-out walk.

"I didn't really translate the stuff I was doing in the 'pen, the stuff I've been working on very well in the game," Giolito said. "I got into the game, and it's a pretty packed stadium, adrenaline going, I got a little quick, got a little ahead of myself and missed, especially with the four-seam fastball. I missed quite a few. Obviously the homer, the line drive, you could see where the misses were."

"I did a better job today throwing fastballs away to lefties and inside to righties than the opposite. So we continue to work on that in the pen, but I'll have plenty more opportunities, a lot of stuff to work on in the spring."

[RELATED: Facing Cubs for first time, Rick Renteria happy with White Sox]

Jose Abreu homered and singled and drove in two runs in three at-bats and Tim Anderson doubled in a run and singled in three trips. Afterward, Abreu left the team for personal reasons to return to Miami. He's expected to be back in camp on Wednesday.

Juan Minaya struck out four batters in two scoreless innings in relief to keep the score tied.

Third baseman Todd Frazier took 35 swings and 35 ground balls prior to Monday's game. Frazier, who has a mild oblique strain, said he's made good progress since he hurt himself last Monday.

"Feeling good," Frazier said. "See how we feel tomorrow, you never know. Some people don't believe mild strain, but it really was. Work in slow, but when I get in game, get in game.

"Could be a couple of days, could be five or six or after off day. Don't need much time. At the back end of March we'll be getting after it."