Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place

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Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010Updated 11:37 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox picked a bad time to revert to their 2009 form.

Tuesday night's romp by the Minnesota Twins was, in Juan Pierre parlance, an old-fashioned butt whipping, aided by Freddy Garcia's generous, batting-practice hurling. And Wednesdays 6-1 triumph by the White Sox was an exploitation of a rare lapse in fundamentals by Minnesota, and by game's end injury added to insult as three Twins left the locker room in slings.

And Thursday? Well, Thursday was a 6-1 Chicago loss of potentially staggering proportions.

First, it was reminiscent of past Chisox seasons of fundamental futility, as the Sox packed the sacks three times in the first six innings and came away with just one run. Of seven batters to come to the plate in an attempt to drive home some of the easiest runs possible, only A.J. Pierzynski in the first, with a swinging bunt down the third-base line that was seemingly destined to swerve foul, tapped in a run.

Not that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was overly concerned, instead accenting what his club did accomplish against Twins ace Francisco Liriano.

"We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of people on base in almost every inning," Guillen said. "We had our big guys up to hit with the bases loaded and couldn't get anything done."

Second, Chicago played a sloppy game, including a run-scoring balk by White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, failure to cover second on a steal attempt, poor outfield throws and indecisive baserunning.

Guillen had an off-night as well, with overly-cautious sacrifice bunting and making the curious decision to walk Twins catcher Joe Mauer with two out in the seventh, Chicago down just 3-1, then failing to bring in southpaw Chris Sale (and not even warm up lefty ace Matt Thornton) to face lefthanded Sox killer Jason Kubel.

Floyd had blown past 120 pitches and wasn't at his sharpest even from the get-go, so it was hardly a shock when Kubel doubled Minny's runs with a three-run, opposite field bomb.

"Gavin was throwing the ball well," Guillen said, adding that he had no thought of removing Floyd from the game when he made a mound visit prior to the Kubel at-bat, but merely wanted to give his righthander a breather. "I didnt even ask him how he felt. I wanted to give him an opportunity to finish the game. He threw a bad pitch, a breaking ball right over the plate."

"I just have to throw a better pitch there," said Floyd, conceding that he didn't feel as sharp as usual in this game. "It broke pretty well, but Kubel made adjustments all game and got a good part of the bat on the ball."

While coming into the season with a rough career mark vs. Chicago, Liriano has been splendid this season against the White Sox, upping his 2010 record to 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA courtesy of one-run, four-strikeout ball.

"We were facing a good pitcher," Guillen said. "He was throwing those sliders, and we couldn't do anything against them."

"He's usually effectively wild and gets a lot of swings and misses with his slider," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "You're hoping he hangs one, because you just need one good mistake to hit."

With the game out of hand, Guillen trotted out Bobby Jenks for a rehab ninth inning in an effort to reposition him as the closer, and even that didn't work out according to plan; Jenks left the game with back spasms after recording just one out. The burly righthander is considered day-to-day and is unlikely to see action in this weekends series vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Overall, the White Sox played not to fall into second place, rather than fighting to take back sole possession of first. In spite of another flat effort against their rivals up north (Chicago is now 4-8 vs. the Twins on the season), chins were up in the clubhouse and the team is looking toward Friday for a shot at redemption.

"It's just one game," Konerko said. "Now, one game can win or lose a division, and one game can be made up in just 24 hours. No one in here is getting down.

"This is the position we want to be in, playing meaningful games in the middle of August. There's a lot of baseball to be played, and we all know that."

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

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.