Twins use power to seize first place from Sox

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Twins use power to seize first place from Sox

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010
Updated 11:48 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox outfitted their big-game hunter, 10-win fifth starter Freddy Garcia, on Tuesday night in facing a Minnesota Twins club thats been nipping at their heels and prepping to pounce.

And indeed like a leopard leaping out of the bush, the Twins sacked the doe-eyed prey otherwise known as the White Sox with a 12-6 romp through U.S. Cellular Field.

That was a good, old-fashioned, butt-whipping, said left fielder Juan Pierre, who saw his hitting streak snapped at 16 games with an 0-for-3 night that included the indignity of being picked off at first base by Twins starter Scott Baker. They just kept coming and coming.

A very, very bad game, said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his clubs effort. The skipper mentioned that he was so bored during the contest that he started reading factoids on the scoreboard, such as Minnesotas 29-16 now 30-16 record against the Central Division.

Big Game Freddy failed to show, retiring just seven batters in the tipoff to a dog-days set that will help determine the AL Central champion. Garcia is now 5-9 with a 5.65 ERA in 21 starts in August over the past seven seasons.

They beat us, no excuses, said Ramon Castro, who started the season as Garcias catching valet but has blossomed into an offensive force with a .935 OPS in spot play. It was just one of those days where nothing worked for us. It wasnt just Freddy, it was Tony Pena, Scott Linebrink. They were swinging and hitting everything.

In addition to furthering their routine dominance over the Chisox (7-3 on the season so far) in a most direct and gruesome, heart-ripped-from-chest fashion, the Twins seized back first place after 37 days bounced from their customary position atop the division.

A pair of doubles by Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer broke the ice for Minny in the first, followed by a second-inning eruption for four runs, paced by homers from Jim Thome, J.J. Hardy and Mauer.

The White Sox, having succeeded in luring the white-hot Twins into a five-run trap just nine outs into the game, struck back with a three-run blast by Carlos Quentin in the second. With eight runs scored in just the first 10 outs of the contest, the 16-inch softball game was officially on.

One problem for Chicago: It was Minnesota that continued mashing, as the White Sox would get no closer than that 5-3 deficit. Twins leadoff man Denard Span would bat in each of the first three innings and Minnesota would lead 8-3 after four, failing to score in only the fifth, seventh and ninth innings.

For Guillen, it was a meaty, two-out, 0-2 fastball Pena delivered to Michael Cuddyer that was abused for a double that marked a turning point in the game. (The White Sox, trailing a relatively modest 6-3, had just walked Jason Kubel intentionally to set up an easy force play with runners on first and second.)

And the Kubel-Cuddyer combo also menaced Chicago just two innings later, again with two outs, Kubel drawing an easy, five-pitch walk and Cuddyer smashing a first-pitch slider, sporting a distinct absence of slide, some 400 feet into the seats. Even at 8-3 after the fourth, Guillen believed his team could come back. But after Cuddyer crushed that second ball, to come back from a seven-run deficit is just too much.

Again its left to Paul Konerko, as team captain filling the role of lukewarm water alongside a boiling pot like Guillen, to keep some perspective on a loss that will drive overreactions in many fans, and even some dour, Schadenfreudist baseball writers in town.

I dont give falling out of first much thought, Konerko said. That only matters at the end of the year, and theres still a long way to go.

Still, there is urgency in the White Sox clubhouse. Pierre noted that Chicago started the second half on a high note in Minnesota with a win, then dropped three straight to the Twins in increasingly tragic fashion.

Weve got to reverse the trend tomorrow, said the speedster. I dont care if its 1-0. We just gotta get em.

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

Adam Eaton returns to White Sox lineup vs. Rays

Adam Eaton returns to White Sox lineup vs. Rays

Adam Eaton is back in the White Sox lineup in their contest against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night on CSN+.

Eaton will bat in the leadoff spot and play right field.

"It’s nice to be back in there and I’m excited," Eaton said prior to Tuesday night's game. "They played really well yesterday, so hopefully we can keep up that same intensity. As I’ve said, I’m excited to get back out there."

Manager Robin Ventura held Eaton out of the game on Monday night, saying that he still needed time to recuperate. But the White Sox outfielder is ready to go.

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Eaton left last week’s game against the Cleveland Indians after crashing into the wall while making a catch. He missed the next three games.

Eaton, who got the wind knocked out of him during the catch, took and passed concussion tests.

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields’ time with the White Sox has not gone well. But Monday night was one of the bright spots, and it came against his former team.

Shields allowed just one run in his six innings of work against the visiting Tampa Ray Bays — with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career — and earned his first win since July 26 as the White Sox opened this four-game set with a 7-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the Rays off the bases Monday, running into jams with multiple base runners on in four of his six innings. But he did keep them off the scoreboard, for the most part, getting some help from his defense with a couple double plays. He finished allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts over his six innings.

The win was his first in two months after a brutal August — six starts with four losses and an 11.42 ERA — and a couple of rough outings in September. It was Shields’ sixth victory on the season and fourth since joining the White Sox compared to 18 losses on the season, 11 coming with the White Sox.

“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now. Body feels good, arm feels good, so hopefully I can get another win on Saturday to end my season and move into next year.”

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With just one more start on his schedule in the season’s final week, Shields won’t lose a visually upsetting 20 games. Avoiding that number might not make losing 18 or 19 much easier for fans and observers to swallow, but teammates understand what Shields has gone through this season.

“I think we’ve all been through it once or maybe even twice in our career. He works his butt off, though,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He looks at film. He watches everything he’s doing. To come out with the strong outing today, even in the first inning, getting two runners on and getting out of that jam, it goes to show you his resilience. Whenever he got runners on, he looked relaxed and induced a lot of ground balls which we needed.”

Certainly Shields’ teammates picked him up Monday. The two double plays while he was in the game were just half the infield’s total on the night, two more coming in the seventh and eighth, when Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones put the first two hitters they faced on in each frame. But the double plays helped end those threats and keep the Rays down.

The White Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, Melky Cabrera scoring on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, the White Sox punched back, Frazier doubling, stealing third base and scoring on Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of that inning.

And as Shields and the relief corps danced out of jams, the White Sox added to their score. Jose Abreu singled in a run in the fifth, but it was a pair of two-run homers off the bats of Morneau and Carlos Sanchez in the seventh and eighth innings that provided the real insurance.

The win was the third straight for the White Sox, something that while positive won’t provide much solace in a season where competing for a playoff spot is a distant memory.

But, like Shields finishing his season strong, White Sox players in general can create individual momentum for each of their offseasons and into next year with good finishes to 2016.

“We want to end on a positive note,” Frazier said. “Everybody wants to meet their goals. Baseball is the most individualistic team sport there is. You have to have your individual goals just like your team goals, and our team goals are out the door right now. You don’t want to play for yourself, but at the same time play for your pitcher a little bit and help him out.”