White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back

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White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
Updated 12:11 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS You cant say these havent been exciting games. But unfortunately for the White Sox, its excitement that is filed more in the heartbreaker category than the thriller one.

Filed again under the former was Wednesdays tilt, in which the Minnesota Twins rallied from a 5-3 deficit to defeat Chicago, 7-6, pulling five games ahead in an AL Central race that is all-too-rapidly reaching the finish line.

Theres no concern, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The Twins play good against everybody. Thats why theyre in first place.

The White Sox pushed Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano from the game after he burned through 106 pitches in just five innings, yet in a series where neither team has seemed to enjoy prosperity, Pale Hose starter Gavin Floyd gave the lead right back, surrendering seven earned runs over 5 13 innings to take his second straight loss.

When a teams hot, theyre hot, Floyd said. I had good stuff, but apparently not good enough.

The Twins again jumped on Chicago early and threatened to bury the White Sox with instant offense, Joe Mauer doubling home Denard Span, then Michael Cuddyer singling home Mauer for a 2-0 first inning lead.

It is what it is, said second baseman Gordon Beckham. Theyre very good. We bring the infield in, and I dont think Mauers double is a hit if were back. That was just sort of the story of the night.

Similar to Tuesdays game, Chicago fought back, with Andruw Jones driving a monster, 436-foot shot to center that plated three and gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead.

I didnt think Liriano was going to mess around after walking A.J., Jones said of looking for a sweet fastball on his three-run blast. But it was too early in the game to think we had the advantage. We know theyre not going to give up.

Early on we had Liriano on the ropes, could have scored more runs, and couldnt get it done, was how Guillen summarized it.

The back-and-forth continued with Jason Kubel singling home Span to tie the game at three in the bottom of the third, and the White Sox pushing back for two in the fifth on Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski RBIs.

Mauer launched a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning-his first at Target Field-that barely cleared the wall in left, drawing the Twins to 5-4. One frame later, Delmon Young, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy batted in runs that pushed Minnesotas tally to seven and its lead to two.

They just find holes, find where our players arent, all the time, Floyd said, grin-grimacing at his tough luck in the sixth. I had a couple of bad pitches, and sometimes you hope those go at fielders. I just try to execute and hope for the best. It wasnt the best today.

Every time we come back, they score more, said Jones, who noted that through work with White Sox batting coach Greg Walker hes hitting more like he did during his Atlanta Braves heyday. But weve got to keep battling. Theyre on a good hot streak and everything is going their way.

Juan Pierres fourth hit of the night drove home Beckham, and it appeared that another game-tying rally on Minnesota closer Matt Capps was in the offing. But Capps extinguished Alexi Ramirez and Rios on corner grounders, and the Twins escaped.

Every game we play vs. Minnesota is a one-run game, Jones said. You look back and wonder if you could have just gotten that one more run, it would be different.

In spite of the heartbreaker, Chicago remains positive in light of a suddenly huge deficit and the hourglass reading just 43 games remaining, and four vs. the Twins.

Were not worried, but its tough, Jones said. We fought a long way to get where we want to be, and after one bad week, were down five games in the standings. Weve got to come back and get one game, then look forward to the next series.

Today and yesterday were big games for both clubs, Guillen said. Weve got to be ready for tomorrow and change things. Hopefully, this thing goes to the end. Theres a lot of season left, its a big game tomorrow again.

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

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.

With season a week away, Todd Frazier is 'right where I need to be'

With season a week away, Todd Frazier is 'right where I need to be'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After he pulled the ball more than ever in 2016, Todd Frazier has worked to hit it the opposite way more often this spring. Even if he struggled.

But as the Opening Day nears, Frazier doesn’t want to cheat himself. Though he struggled last season, Frazier hit a career-high 40 homers. That kind of success means Frazier will continue to pull a pitch if it’s where he likes it. That approach led to a double and Frazier’s first home run of the spring in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Both balls were hit to left field.

“I’ve been working on a lot of things and sometimes when you work on something the results aren’t going to be there,” Frazier said. “But I still stay true to myself. And once we start getting going here, pretty close, close as can be -- it’s time to have those things in the back of your mind. But at the same time, you have to hit it where the pitch is and put in play. I was working on a lot of things. I was still trying to go right field, couldn’t get it out there. And now you go to what you know best and just react.”

According to fangraphs.com, Frazier hit 22.8 percent of all balls he put in play to right field last year, which is actually above his career mark of 22.5 percent. But en route to slashing .225/.302/.464, Frazier saw a second consecutive dramatic drop in the number of balls he hit to center. Of the balls Frazier put in play, only 28.5 percent went up the middle, down from 37.7 percent in 2014 when he produced a career-best wRC+ of 122.

To correct that trend, Frazier has worked to give himself a better chance to hit outside pitches the opposite way. Now that his focus is back on hitting to all fields, Frazier thought it was a good sign to homer with a week left before the season starts.

“It feels good,” Frazier said. “It’s showing I’m in the right place. It was a changeup and I’ve been out in front on a lot of those. I’ve got about 10 or 12 more at-bats before the season starts and it’s go time. Get back in the rhythm of things. Whatever you worked on, keep that there. If it’s outside now I have that weapon too as well. I’m right where I need to be.”