Chicago White Sox

Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split

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Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split

Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
Updated: 11:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT- The wildness that had haunted Chicago White Sox rookie Carlos Torres in prior major league efforts reared up again on Tuesday night. By the time Torres was pitching his best, it was too late.

The Detroit Tigers cruised after pounding out five runs in the first two innings against Torres, setting back the Sox, 7-1, to salvage a split of their doubleheader.

"Everybody is stepping up on the mound for us right now, so the expectation is to win games," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, nonetheless seeing a silver lining in Torres' performance. "The worst scenario almost came true in the first two innings, Torres had 60-something pitches, and I was worried because I didnt want to bring my bullpen in so early."

While just one of Torres' five free passes in the game came around to score, his initial wildness-walking the first two Tiger batters in the first-forced him to play catch-up and work from a disadvantage.

"I know how to give the team innings, but no matter how you look at it, I needed to get deeper in the ballgame than the second inning because that can actually cash out a bullpen quite a bit," Torres said.

Torres barely did escape the second, which was the scene of the major damage, to the tune of four runs. Ryan Raburn led off with a single and with two outs was doubled home by Alex Avila. The string kept going from there, as Will Rhymes singled home Avila, Johnny Damon doubled home Rhymes and Brennan Boesch doubled home Damon.

"I've never seen that before, in the first inning three walks and next inning five hits, no unintentional walks," Guillen said. "It was kind of a weird combination. In the first inning he looked like a minor league pitcher but after that he threw the ball well and gave us what we needed. He turned it around."

The sole Chisox score came on a Paul Konerko bomb in the seventh, breaking up Jeremy Bonderman's shutout. The Tigers veteran was terrific, pitching 6.2 innings and surrendering just five hits, mitigated by five strikeouts.

"To come in here and sweep is not easy," Guillen said. "Bonderman was one pitch away from us getting to him. He threw a couple of good pitches and got two double-play balls that killed rallies."

Detroit picked up two more insurance runs in the eighth, when Ramon Santiago led off with a single and Austin Jackson's sacrifice bunt that turned into a hit and run-scoring play when White Sox reliever Tony Pena fielded the bunt and threw the ball far past Chicago first sacker Mark Kotsay. A Rhymes groundout pushed Jackson to third, where he scored on a Damon groundout.

The fact that Chicago's game two effort was so flat yet the White Sox remained in first place and could ponder ephemera the possibility of lefty phenom Chris Sale being called up for his possible major league debut Wednesday says it all about the state of Guillen's team.

"Right now all my players only have to worry about winning games, not anything else," he said. "Thats easy: Every time we go to the field, we expect to win these must-win games, no matter who we play, when we play, where we play. Just win games, and dont worry about the people behind us. Thats the easy part of being in first place: You dont have to worry about scoreboard watching."

For those White Sox not watching the scoreboard, their split coupled with Minnesota's loss dropped the Twins 1.5 games behind Chicago.

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

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

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USA TODAY

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

This one may sting a bit, White Sox fans.  

On Wednesday evening, former White Sox ace Chris Sale accomplished a feat that no other American League pitcher has since 1999. The current Red Sox left-hander whiffed his 300th batter of the season, becoming the first A.L. hurler since Pedro Martinez to do so. 

Sale reached the impressive milestone in a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem. Vintage. 

Overall on the season, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with opponents hitting a mere .203 against him. Before his postseason debut in October, Sale has a shot at leading two franchises in season strikeout totals: 

The consolation on the South Side is that the prized prospect acquired in the Sale blockbuster had a pretty nice night himself. Yoan Moncada drilled a two-run blast in Houston, his seventh since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. 

The great trade debate wages on. 

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

HOUSTON -- Yoan Moncada took Jose Abreu’s advice to switch to a lighter bat and the White Sox rookie has been on a tear ever since.

The veteran first baseman thought Moncada would benefit from a slightly smaller piece of lumber and purchased it. Moncada began to use the bat at the start of the team’s current 10-game road trip and has since produced the best stretch of his career. Moncada is hitting 432/.488/.649 with 16 hits, including a triple, two home runs, six RBIs and 11 runs scored in 37 plate appearances.

“I just thought he wasn’t using the bats for him to take advantage of his swing,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “These new bats have better balance with the weight and are a little shorter than the other ones. I just did it thinking of him taking advantage of his power, his hands and to feel more freedom in his swing.”

Neither Abreu nor the White Sox have wavered in their faith in Moncada since his promotion from Triple-A two months ago. Baseball’s top prospect flashed plenty of talent in spring training and further convinced them by showing a consistently good eye at the plate after arriving in the majors.

But while Moncada had his share of highlights early on, he still hadn’t begun to receive the desired results on a consistent basis. Abreu saw him missing his pitch from time to time and suggested that Moncada use a smaller bat.

Moncada previously a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat. The ones purchased by Abreu are 33 1/ 2-inches and 31 ounces. Moncada has said the bats have produced a more fluid swing and he feels like he has a stronger swing since.

[MORE: Top 10 storylines from the White Sox minor league season] 

Manager Rick Renteria thinks it’s a combination of the new bat and Moncada having a better understanding for how teams are approaching him at the plate.

“Lighter bats can help you manipulate the barrel a little more, keep you on the ball,” Renteria said. “You don’t think you have to force yourself to get out in front too much. You can allow the ball to travel and do what it does, so you can see it as much as possible. Just in general, the at-bats and the experience and the sequence of pitches he’s been seeing over time now, he’s starting to understand and get a feel for hitting in the big leagues.”

Abreu said his own bat size has varied during a red-hot second half depending upon how he feels. Moncada’s mentor started the season with a 34-inch, 32-ounce Albert Pujols-model bat, but also began to use the 33-inch, 33 1/2-ounce at the All-Star break.

Abreu has enjoyed watching his protégé have consistent success over the past nine days.

“I knew he had the talent,” Abreu said. “I never had a doubt about it. It was just a matter for him to get to know this process and to get to know the league and for him to use the proper tools to take advantage. We are just seeing what he’s capable of doing and it’s a good sign for him building for next season.”