White Sox say goodbye to 2010; Paulie, A.J. too?

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White Sox say goodbye to 2010; Paulie, A.J. too?

Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
Updated 5:57 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
Even for the last-place team, the final game of the season is always an emotional affair.

The Chicago White Sox had sewn up second place in the AL Central days earlier, but the open spaces of their projected 2011 roster is what will trouble fans for weeks ahead.

In Sundays finale, White Sox fans bade a possible farewell to two longtime Pale Hose heroes.

In the top of the fourth, six-season catcher A.J Pierzynski, the feisty soul of the team, trotted off the field to a loud ovation, having played possibly his final game for the White Sox. Three innings later, an even louder response was generated for Paul Konerko, a 12-season White Sox and five-year team captain.

The surge of emotionspurred by a labored 5 23 innings from Edwin Jacksonpaced the White Sox to a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. The White Sox finished 2010 as the hottest team in baseball, winning nine of their final 11 games and ending the year at 88-74. With the victory, manager Ozzie Guillen picked up his 600th career win.

After the game, both players spoke at length about the emotion of the day, as well as their futures. Before the two heroes left the field, Pierzynski implored the crowd, next year, bring back Paulie! and Konerko teased twice that there might be more.

The big blasts in the game came off the bat of Alexei Ramirez, who iced his Silver Slugger award with a first-inning home run and second-inning double, driving in the teams first three runs. Later, Juan Pierre stole his 69th base of the season and drove in the other three runs for the White Sox as part of a 3-for-5 day.

It was a nice way to win, Guillen said. A lot of good things happened today. Speaking as a friend or a baseball fan, it was a privilege to manage all those guys out therethey played hard.

Pierzynski went 0-for-2 in the finale and finished the season batting .270. Konerko was 2-for-3, upping his average to .312. The first baseman fell short in an attempt to clinch his third season with 40 or more home runs, however, finishing with run production numbers of 39 longballs and 111 RBI. Not that he cared much.

I hit 40 homers twice, and the world didnt change, Konerko said. Chasing an individual goal is not what Im about. If you chase the numbers, youre in trouble. This year, my numbers were just a byproduct of my plan day-to-day.

Konerko continued his insightful look at how the 2010 season has differed for him.

You dont have great years, you put together great years. Its a long-haul type of thing, he said. I gave away less at-bats fewer than 100 than I ever have this seasonthats a choice. Im a better leader because of how I went about it.

Natch, the self-deprecating Konerko would end his lesson on a comic note, laughing: I guess it took me 11 years to figure that out.

Both Guillen and Konerko described a rather comic scenario in the White Sox dugout, where as the game went on Konerko wanted to pull himself in order to get Mark Kotsay one more at-bat on the season, and Kotsay refusing to substitute for the legend. Bench coach Joey Cora had to intervene and make a final ruling.

Kotsay and I were both kind of arguing about it, Konerko said. Hes a great guy. Ill do anything for that guy.

When Kotsay trotted out to replace Konerko with one out in the seventh inning, the two had a lengthy embrace near the pitchers mound.

Pierzynski, who is the more affordable and potentially more essential team depth-wise option to return of the pair, was both grateful and urgent in his postgame comments.

The White Sox are a special team, and Chicago is a special place, he said. Ill always be thankful. White Sox fans are the best fans, and Chicago is the best place to play. Ive always said I wanted to be back. I want to be a White Sox until I retire.

Jackson pitched into the fourth without allowing a hit, and exited in the sixth having surrendered five hits and three runs while striking out six.

Lucky me, lucky me, a smiling Jackson said of piloting this monumental finale. Today was just a fun game overall. Everybody was loose. It was the last game. You can easily go out and give up, but guys continued to battle and play hard, so thats always a plus.

The Indians rallied for two runs off of Chris Sale after the rookie sensation struck out four of the first five batters he faced. But the southpaw induced a groundout from Michael Brantley to end the game, and the 2010 season.

Magic Number: 1,768

Paul Konerko logged his 1,768th game with the White Sox, the fourth-most in franchise history. He left in the top of the seventh to a standing ovation and a curtain call from the crowd of 24,539.

Final Word

The only stat that matters is winning. Guillen on the importance of his 600th career win, accomplished with Sundays finale.

Next on the Mound

The White Sox will continue this six-game series in Cleveland, next April 1. Early guesses at the Opening Day starter? The safe bet here is Mark Buehrle, for a team-record ninth time.

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

Preview: Carlos Rodon makes season debut as White Sox face Yankees on CSN

Preview: Carlos Rodon makes season debut as White Sox face Yankees on CSN

Carlos Rodon makes his season debut as the White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN Plus and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

The White Sox said all along they were confident Jose Quintana would rebound and now that he has no seems the least bit surprised.

Quintana provided yet another round of proof that he’s far removed from those May woes when he silenced the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. While the left-hander earned a no decision, he was rewarded when the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana finished June with a 1.78 ERA.

“We have a very good relationship, very good communication,” teammate Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “When (Quintana) was passing through that, the first two months, I let him know, just keep your confidence, don’t hesitate, do your job, keep working hard because we have confidence in you. Now he’s just showing us what he’s capable of doing and doing what he’s been doing his whole career. We’re glad he’s the same Jose Quintana he’s been the last couple of years.”

Quintana has gone from a period where many of his mistakes got hit to a spot where he’s been borderline untouchable. He limited the second-best offense in the American League to two hits and four walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday. With good fastball command and a sharp curve, Quintana had New York hitters out of whack.

This is a much different pitcher than the one who was tagged by the Boston Red Sox on May 30, an outing after which he said he was embarrassed. Since losing to Boston, Quintana has lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.37. In that span, Quintana has allowed 21 hits and six earned runs with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

“Sometime bad games are going to happen,” Quintana said. “But when it happens, I go check the video to see if I’m doing something wrong and try to make adjustments. But I feel pretty good and I have my confidence high and for me I turn the page and focus on the next one.”

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The 2016 All-Star thrived in the few instances when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He struck out Tyler Austin with two men in scoring position to end the fourth inning and erased a leadoff walk in the fifth with an Austin Romine double play. After Quintana surrendered a two-out double to Judge in the sixth inning, he got Sanchez to pop out to strand the tying run.

Quintana only threw strikes on 55 of 101 pitches on Tuesday. But, of those 55, 10 were swings and misses.

“It's just been him commanding the zone, attacking,” manager Rick Renteria said. “A lot more strikes. He still had some at-bats today where he got to 3-2, but then he'd execute, he'd finish and make a pitch that induced a very weak fly ball or groundballs. That's who he is, I mean you all have seen him like this before. For us it's just seeing him get back to who he's always been.”