Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

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Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 8:15 p.m. Updated: 9:39 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The lifeless Chicago White Sox have fallen, and they seem unable to get up.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, flummoxed by the free-fall his club has suffered after battering foes in the first week of the season, is running out of choices. Hes lazy-susaned his bullpen, tetrised his batting order, argued calls for the sake of arguing, and tipped his cap to opposing aces.

In contrast to his feisty, foul-mouthed persona, Guillen has maintained a confident stance, supportive of his club and proud of the work theyre putting into improving. So if you think after seven straight lifeless losses and some 51 consecutive innings without holding a lead it may be time for the jefe to go Hal McRae on his club, think again.

Im not angry, he said postgame, after first instructing gathered media to just run last nights postgame tape, because his answers would be exactly the same. If we arent fighting, then I would say something, but right now the ball isnt bouncing our way.

Yet another game bounced away, this one in which bonus starter Phil Humber didnt help himself with a number of two-out or two-strike shots in foot.

I was disappointed with a couple of decisions I made with two outs (pitch selection), Humber said. Casey Kotchman, I threw two fastballs right by him, then threw him a curve, and on top of that, threw it right down the middle. It was just one of those things where Id get two out and then Id make a bad pitch, or a bad decision. Its something Ive got to get better at. As far as how I felt, I had good stuff tonight but just didnt make the right pitches at the right time.

Guillen cited Humbers work and that of the bullpen (2 23 scoreless innings from Will Ohman, Tony Pena and Chris Sale), remaining steadfastly behind his Chicago 9.

We are a few inches away from scoring a couple of runs when the Rays catch the ball, he said. I am not going to take any credit away from the Rays, they are playing well. They are playing great defense and the outfield has played very well against us. The one thing about it is they have gotten big hits and we havent.

We have hit a lot of balls hard and the Rays have made great plays, A.J. Pierzynski said. Give the Rays credit for the defense theyve played.

As the 4-1 final indicated, again, that no opponents lead is ever too small against these South Side Hitless Men, who have tallied just nine runs in the last six losses of the streak.

Only one Chisox safety ended up mattering, Carlos Quentins fourth homer of the season. The hulking right fielder continues to blister the ball (1.014 OPS) and has seen 14 of his 21 hits this season fall for extra bases.

Pierzynski was tossed from the game (for saying something not very nice to home plate umpire Brian Knight, according to Guillen) after the catcher grounded out to end the top half of the sixth inning. Although Pierzynski ended Wednesday nights game in the clubhouse, watching it on TV in his skivvies, the feistmeister unyieldingly supports the 2011 All-In Chisox.

We are fighting and clawing. We are doing everything we can, Pierzynski said. Thats the way its going right now. We need to keep fighting, keep our heads up, and do everything we can to try and win.

The pressures on, but the White Sox arent bowing.

If wed won six in a row, wed still want to win today, Humber said. Obviously, we need a winits not fun to go out there and lose, especially a few in a row. But I dont see anybody quitting in here; everybodys getting their work in. The talents going to rise to the top. Were right on the verge of breaking out; its just one of those things. Youve got to battle.

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

Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

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Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

The White Sox take on the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo vs. James Paxton

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

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James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.

“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”

The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.

In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.

He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.

Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.

Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.

Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.

He walked none and struck out six.

“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”

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The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.

Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.

Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.

“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”