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.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."