Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

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Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

Sunday, Sept. 11Posted: 5:13 p.m. Updated: 6:10 p.m.

Associated Press

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Luis Valbuena had a a big zero in the home-run column, and it was bothering him.He can rest easy now.Valbuena connected for a solo shot and Ubaldo Jimenez threw six effective innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.Valbuena also singled twice and scored two runs as the Indians collected 14 hits. Trevor Crowe had three singles, and Jason Donald and Lonnie Chisenhall added two hits apiece."I feel good because I was working all day in the cage and made an adjustment," Valbuena said.Valbuena drove an 0-2 pitch from Will Ohman over the wall in right in the sixth, making it 4-2 Tribe. It was Valbuena's first extra-base hit and RBI this season. He entered the game just 5 for 34 on the season at the big league level despite hitting .302 in 113 games for Triple-A Columbus."He's tough to read because he's never looked overmatched, but the numbers don't add up," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was our best hitter in Triple-A the whole year. ... Today he had a very good day. I'm happy for Luis because he's had enough hard times up here the last two years."Valbuena especially enjoyed his first major league homer since April 16, 2010."I'm so happy because I don't want to see the zero there," Valbuena said.Crowe entered the game hitless in seven at-bats. After starting 106 games in the outfield for Cleveland in 2010, Crowe had shoulder surgery on March 30 and was activated on Wednesday."It was good to see him do that," Acta said. "He spent the whole season basically in Arizona rehabbing. ... It's nice to see him have some success so he'll have some confidence going forward."Despite the slow start since his return, Crowe felt he was about to break through."I felt like for the amount of time off, I was seeing the ball really well and it was only a matter of time before I started making some solid contact," Crowe said.Jimenez (3-2) issued five walks, but allowed just two runs and three hits. The right-hander, who was acquired from Colorado before the July 31 trade deadline, struck out two and improved to 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA over his last four outings."I felt good out there," Jimenez said. "I only had a couple of innings (when) I couldn't find the strike zone. I think I was trying to throw too many breaking balls and couldn't control them."While his command was shaky, Jimenez reached the upper 90s with his fastball, important for a pitcher who has struggled with inconsistent velocity this season."When I got to the fifth inning, I (thought the fastball) was my best pitch today," Jimenez said.White Sox starter Zach Stewart (2-4) yielded three runs and seven hits over five innings in his first outing since he tossed a one-hitter at Minnesota last Monday."I wasn't hitting spots like I was last outing, like I should have been," Stewart said. "I missed some spots. Some of my breaking balls weren't as sharp, I left them over the plate and got hit around a little bit."Alejandro De Aza went 2 for 3, scored two runs and stole two bases for Chicago. Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez each singled twice and drove in a run.Jimenez walked the bases full in the fourth, the last of the free passes issued to Brent Morel, who has drawn seven of his 14 walks this season since Sept. 1. Jimenez got Gordon Beckham on a grounder to third to escape the threat.The White Sox also left the bases full four times on Saturday."Well, you know we continue to leave people on base," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Jimenez throw 100 pitches. I never see a guy throw 100 pitches and only (allow) two runs."The Indians broke it open with three runs in the eighth against Matt Thornton. Donald drove in a run with an infield hit and Carlos Santana lashed a two-run double to right.The Indians earned a split in the four-game series between teams chasing Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers won their ninth in a row Sunday and lead Chicago by 10 12 games and Cleveland by 11."We played right into the Tigers' hands basically," Acta said. "That what we did this series, kill each other while they continue to win."NOTES: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy will not pitch again this season. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will rest in an effort to come back at full strength in 2012. Peavy had shoulder surgery last season. Rookie Dylan Axelrod will start in Peavy's place on Wednesday. ... The Indians activated DH Travis Hafner (strained right foot) from the disabled list. Acta said Hafner will split time at DH with Jim Thome for the remainder of the season. ... The White Sox will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they open a three-game series against Detroit at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday. Rick Porcello will face Chicago's John Danks in the opener. ... The Indians' 10-game trip continues with a stop in Texas on Monday for the opener of a three-game set. Justin Masterson will start for Cleveland against Matt Harrison.Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materialmay not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What White Sox 'fireman' Anthony Swarzak has done to increase trade value

What White Sox 'fireman' Anthony Swarzak has done to increase trade value

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anthony Swarzak held a high-leverage audition for a potential contender on Sunday long before the Kansas City Royals walked off the White Sox.

The nonroster invitee to big league camp continued a stellar campaign as he took over in a critical spot midgame and helped the White Sox escape with the lead. The White Sox bullpen ultimately relinquished the lead and Brandon Moss sent them to their ninth straight loss — Kansas City won 5-4 — with an RBI double in the ninth inning.

But Swarzak continues to thrive in the opportunities handed to him and could make for an interesting trade chip before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

“He’s been excellent,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s become for us, with (Nate Jones) going down and (Jake Petricka) going down he’s actually become a fireman. He’s come in in some of the highest-leverage situations we could possibly get. And then we use him for multiple innings.”

A free agent after the season, Swarzak has 50 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA in 47 innings for the White Sox this season. He also has only allowed nine of 33 inherited runners to score (27.2 percent), including two on Sunday. The American League average for inherited runners scoring entering Sunday was 30 percent, according to baseball-reference.com.

All this has come in a season where Swarzak went to camp with the White Sox with no certainty of making the 25-man roster. The right-hander not only thrived in camp, he came out strong in April with 19 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season. Combined with early injuries to Jones and Zach Putnam, Swarzak’s performance helped him climb the totem pole in the White Sox bullpen from the outset. His stature has grown even more of late with the injury to Petricka as well as the trades of Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson.

“As far personal expectations, I’m right where I want to be,” Swarzak said. “More to accomplish for this year, absolutely. But I like what I’ve done so far and I like the opportunity that I have to accomplish even more.

“That’s the situation we all work so hard. That’s the situation we want and it’s why we all work so hard in the offseason in general is for situations like that.”

Swarzak took over for starter Derek Holland in the fifth inning with the White Sox ahead 4-3 and runners on the corners. He threw three straight sliders to Jorge Bonifacio and struck him out to strand the pair.

“It was huge, what he did coming in right there,” Holland said.

As significant as it was, it only held off the Royals for the time being. And as much as Swarzak has enjoyed things on a personal level, it isn’t making what the thinned-out White Sox roster is experiencing any easier to handle.

“Everything going on around here right now is pretty hard to swallow,” Swarzak said. “We’re going out there losing 8-0, 6-0, we’re up 6-0 and we end up losing. We lost a 1-0 game against the Dodgers and the next night we lose 10-1. We’re kind of losing all types of ways right now, which is really hard to swallow because as a bullpen guy we take pride in holding the lead and right now it seems like we’re not getting it done at all, any aspect of it, as a group.”

With eight more shopping days left before the deadline, chances are high that Swarzak may not be part of the current group much longer. He has already seen the departures of Robertson and Kahnle and knows his impending free agency could result in a trade elsewhere. But the veteran reliever is doing his best to keep his focus on the mound.

“It all comes back to quality pitches and getting guys out,” Swarzak said. “If you’re getting guys out, you’re going to get some attention from the league and if you’re not they’re going to close the book on you. It’s very straight forward for a pitcher, for a major league baseball player in general: Do better. Get it done and you’re going to play for a long time and you’re going to have the success that goes along with getting it done. That’s really all I’m worried about is continuing to make good pitches and hopefully get the results I’m looking for.”

White Sox: The big-picture reasoning behind Rick Renteria and bunting

White Sox: The big-picture reasoning behind Rick Renteria and bunting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rick Renteria wants his players to be able to execute a bunt regardless of how much it drives White Sox fans crazy.

The White Sox manager wants to win now, but he’s also looking at the big picture.

Even though he knows how much a team’s chance of scoring decreases when an out is surrendered via the sacrifice bunt, Renteria is using the opportunity to see what abilities his players have. He wants to know what they can do.

Renteria is well aware that his calls for sacrifice bunts aren’t popular with fans (see: Twitter’s reaction to Yoan Moncada’s bunt tries on Saturday). But he also thinks there’s no better time to work on bunts than during a game. So as much fury as it brings, Renteria will continue to ask his players to work on a skill he’d like to see remain part of the game.

“Listen, (Moncada’s) a plus runner,” Renteria said. “He’s going to be able to use that as a part of his arsenal. I see a whole lot of home run hitters dropping bunts right now against shifts and things of that nature. I don’t think that art should disappear. We’re in the era of quote-unquote the long ball, but like I’ve said, sometimes you need to do certain things to kind of put your club in a better position.

"If you think that’s one of the things that’s available to you, you use it. I don’t think you’re necessarily giving it up in terms of an out, because when you’ve got guys who can run anything is possible. You end up loading the bases possibly. I know our guys are very cognizant of just playing the game. If they feel like they want to get two guys in scoring position on their own, they do it. It’s not something I want to take away from them. I think they read the defenses. Sometimes we talk about other ways of dealing with the defenses, but I think they’re understanding that we’re going to want that to be a part of all their abilities.”

As for the team’s execution, Renteria isn’t satisfied with the results. That means you can expect to see more bunts the rest of the way.

“It’s still a work-in-progress,” Renteria said. “I think that would be a falsehood to say we’re at the point where I go, I’m very, very happy with the way we lay down bunts. It’s still a work-in-progress, something that we’re going to continue to emphasize. Something we’re going to continue to work on. And then again, the only opportunities you get in real time are games, and that’s when you need ‘em.”