Chicago White Sox

White Sox spin Carrasco, Tribe right round

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White Sox spin Carrasco, Tribe right round

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Posted 2:54 p.m. Updated 4:59 p.m.

By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND It took the Chicago White Sox until the third inning of Fridays opener to score five runs. In Saturdays chaser, they led 5-0 after two.

This, in the infinite jest the Pale Hose have treated the 2011 season as so far, counts as progress.

Gordon Beckham had hits in both the first and second, plating two runs, featuring the second sacker's single off the right field wall, to set another apparent rout in motion.

But just like Fridays faux runaway, White Sox pitching and defense rallied against the rout. This time Edwin Jackson got a jump on his bullpen shufflin crew and gave three runs back in the second, one on a towering blast by Travis Hafner, two later with help from a curious double-error (bobble, throw) tacked to third baseman Brent Morel.

You can have some early struggles, but its always how you finish, said a confident Jackson. Both pitchers settled down. We went through the same things early in the game. As a manager, all you can ask a struggling pitcher is to regain stabilization of the game.

He put himself in trouble a lot, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt really command how he wanted to throw the ball, but in the last couple of innings he settled down very well He gave it the best he had today.

Thats exactly what Jackson wanted to do, given his early scuffles.

The first couple of innings, I didnt really have too much, he said. I was catching too much of the plate and they took advantage of it. Its a battle, and you just keep fighting and keep your team in the game.

Meanwhile, tattered Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco settled down put a chill on the White Sox, with Bacons right-field wall single the last White Sox hit until Morel tapped out a single to right in the sixth. Morel then notched the first Chisox steal of the seasonwho had the rookie in the pool?and scoring on Juan Pierres subsequent single.

I like scoring the runs, but being on the other end, with guys in scoring position, my mind shifts to trying to drive guys in like that, Pierre said.

When Carlos Quentin drove in two runs (thats seven on the season, folks) with another deep double (his third) to right-center with two outs off of relief pitcher Chad Durbin, the lead was extended to 8-3 and led to speculation that the White Sox are only fit to maul pitchers relatively fresh from the pen.

Those runs kill teams, those add-on runs, Pierre said.

The biggest hit of the day was when Carlos hit that double late in the game, Guillen said. Good teams need to get big, two-out base hits. That was a big run.

The insurance runs also allowed Guillen to tap right into a potentially electrifying portion of his pen, the 1-2 young guns punch of Chris Sale and Sergio Santos, who came on to nail down the win for Jackson. The lefty-righty combo allowed just two hits and punched out four.

The White Sox have started 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and have now won six straight games at Progressive Field, dating to last year. A sweep looms.

Now we got to go for the white meat on the turkey now, Pierre said. Weve got em on their heels, so weve got to come out strong like we did these last two days.

Were happy right now, Jackson said, as Motley Crue blared from speakers and a video game tournament was about to tip off in the center of the room. You look around the clubhouse and its pretty loose and relaxed. Thats part of the gameyou win when you go out and have fun. Thats what were doing right now.

Morel dips into the stolen-base pool

Postgame, Morel was stunned to learn he was the owner of the first Chisox steal of the season, but in typical fashion, he played it off legit.

Any way we can score is great, he said. I was just trying to get on base with two outs. I got a good pitch to steal on. JPs been swinging the bat well, and came up clutch. A little insurance run definitely helps.

Last years major-league stolen base champion, Pierre, was cool with losing the early lead to the rookie.

I dont mind him stealing like that all the time, if he makes it, said the speedster. Its good for him, being a young guy, to have confidence to start playing the game the way we play it.

South Side Hit Men

The White Sox are hitting .363 as a team through two games, with an engorged .954 OPS. Not that anyone is complaining.

Its about having good at-bats, whether the results are there or not, Pierre said. People just want to have good at-bats throughout the lineup. This offense starts to wear on a pitcher. He looks at our lineup and says, Man, there arent too many holes in that lineup. So he has to make good pitches all day.

Guillen, thrilled by his clubs production, sees strength stretching 1-9.

Everybodys feeling good at the plate, even Alex Rios 0-for-8 on the season but seeing a sure first inning home run cut down by a powerful gust blowing in from left field, he said. The thing about baseball is, try to keep it as long as you can, stay on the same path, and make sure youre not changing anything.

Pierre agreed.

When you score runs, you just want to keep em coming, he said. We did a good job of that, Beckham getting that good knock, adding on, Q getting a big knock late, adding on.
A.J. Pierzynski visits the mound to talk with Edwin Jackson with the hurler in a jam during the second inning. Jackson struck out Shin-Soo Choo to get out of the frame and had seven strikeouts over his six innings of work. (AP)
Guillen knows the secret of why the White Sox have started out incendiary at the plate.

Nobodys trying to pull the balleverybodys staying the middle of the field and not trying to do too much, he said. This team is going to strike out a lot, but right now theyre not helping the pitchers by swinging at bad pitches. Theyre making them throw the ball over the plate.

Jax and SABR

The righty had no explanation for his mastery of the Indians at Progressive Field, where he improved to 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in seven career starts.

I have no clue, he said. I never really keep up with stats.

Jackson is 8-1 lifetime vs. Cleveland, with a 2.70 ERA.

Tooth troubles

John Danks gets the start in the series finale on Sunday, but he wasnt at the ballpark for long on Saturday. After the national anthem, the lefty had to spend an hour in the dentists chair to have an old root canal reworked.

He went in there, cleaned it up a little, said Danks, typically upbeat and chill in spite of his tooth woes.

The oral emergency wont knock Danks out of his start tomorrow.

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

Working relationship: Trust in pitching coach Jose Bautista key to Michael Kopech's dominance

Working relationship: Trust in pitching coach Jose Bautista key to Michael Kopech's dominance

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A strong relationship with pitching coach Jose Bautista allowed Michael Kopech to make a midseason adjustment he thinks is critical to his dominant stretch.

The Double-A Birmingham pitcher said he’s learned a ton about himself during a very good first season with the White Sox. Much of Kopech’s newfound knowledge is related to the direction of his throwing motion and how he needs to be more consistent with it. The suggestion came courtesy of Bautista, who’s in his ninth season as a White Sox coach.

Kopech, who next pitches for the Barons on Friday night, has found the necessary amount of consistency since he and Bautista made the switch in early July. Since then Kopech, 21, has a 0.66 ERA and 54 strikeouts with only seven walks in 41 innings.

“He really trusts Jose’s information,” Birmingham manager Julio Vinas said. “They did some mechanical stuff fixing his direction. He just took off from there once they corrected that direction and make him understand, strike one, how important it really is. He had one good game where he got into the seventh inning and he came out and he says, ‘That’s the longest outing I’ve had.’ And it was like right after he had corrected the direction and he just took off from there. He’s done great. He’s a great kid. He works hard. Fantastic teammate.”

Kopech is pleased with the insight he has gained from Bautista.

“I feel like I’ve learned more about myself this year,” the right-hander said. “Just that I’m more successful as a starter when I’m able to repeatedly stay in one motion.”

Bautista’s fix came on the heels of a six-start run where Kopech posted a 7.46 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. The club used a nine-day window between starts from July 5-13 to work on his direction. Kopech had only one appearance, a scoreless inning in the Futures Game.

“I may be a guy that goes toward the plate and spins off,” Kopech said. “But I can’t be a guy that goes toward the plate and stays toward the plate and the next pitch goes toward the plate and then spins off. I just have to follow in that some pattern no matter what I’m doing. It’s about consistency and I’ve learned my most consistent patterns as a pitcher. That’s put me in a good position.”

Rather, it’s put Kopech in an elite position.

The No. 12 prospect in baseball has perhaps begun to outperform the lofty expectations that have been in place since he arrived last December from Boston in the Chris Sale trade.

Opposing hitters have a .414 OPS against him over the last month. He has completed at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has gone seven frames or more four times.

“He’s going deeper into games,” player development director Chris Getz. “A lot of it has to do with that fastball command and really its staying within his delivery and going after hitters early with that fastball, trusting it, because he’s got good action on the fastball, not just the upper-90s straight fastball. He’s got natural two-seam action to his ball.”

Undoubtedly, throwing more strikes has played a big role in Kopech’s dominance. In his first 16 starts, Kopech threw strikes 61 percent of the time en route to a respectable 4.02 ERA. He’s increased that figure to 67 percent in his last six games.

Ultimately, Kopech credits Bautista for getting him back in the right direction.

“Getting a little bit of success with one mechanical adjustment kind of made the mental adjustments easier,” Kopech said. “It made me feel a little bit more comfortable with myself.

“I stayed in line. I stopped spinning off so much. The solution to that was getting out there and throwing more strikes. One thing became another and after that I started feeling a lot more comfortable with myself.

“A lot of it has to do with Jose and him being in my ear and telling me when I’m coming off and when I’m doing certain things.

“It’s the best I’ve been all year, the most consistent I’ve been all year. I’m feeling pretty good about myself.”

White Sox prospects Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins homer in Double-A debuts

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White Sox prospects Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins homer in Double-A debuts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Eloy Jimenez’s goal is to show the White Sox that his performance at Winston-Salem wasn’t a fluke.

At this rate the No. 7 prospect in baseball won’t need long to prove it.

The White Sox prospect celebrated his promotion to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday night with a home run in his first at-bat and a double. Fellow prospect Zack Collins also homered in his first game with the Barons after both were promoted from Advanced-A Winston-Salem earlier in the day.

“It’s a big step for my career again,” Jimenez said. “I’m just focused more to show the White Sox I can do the same I did in Winston-Salem. Just keep working hard. That’s it.”

Both players learned of their impending promotion after Sunday’s game at Winston-Salem. They played in Monday’s 11-inning loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs) with Collins doubling, tripling and walking and Jimenez going 0-for-5. Jimenez had also gone hitless in five at-bats on Sunday.

But the organization’s co-minor league player of the month for July got going immediately on Wednesday. He drove a 1-1 pitch down the right-field line in the first inning and snuck it inside the foul pole for an opposite-field home run, a 368-foot drive. His next time up, Jimenez doubled to deep center after he produced an exit velocity of 109 mph. Collins also drew a walk in his fourth plate appearance.

The White Sox player development department promoted both players to Double-A to prepare them for next season as this is where each is expected to start the 2018 campaign.

“It’s just to get their feet wet and to know what to expect,” Birmingham manager Julio Vinas said. “It’s a great philosophy because now they come into next year and they know already, this is what they do at this level. Even if they don’t do great here in the next couple of weeks, they know what to expect to now. Now they’ve got all offseason where they can work on certain things and come back and be ready for it. I think it’s a great experience that we give them and I really love the way we handle that.”

[MORE: Lucas Giolito feels as good as he has all season]

Collins wasn’t sure if he would be moved up. Originally, the plan was to keep him at Winston-Salem if the Dash was in the playoff hunt. Several losses erased that idea and Collins is appreciative of his new opportunity. The catcher struck out in his first two at-bats before he hammered one 420 feet for a solo home run in the fourth inning. The exit velo on Collins’ homer was 110 mph.

“(The promotion) means a ton to me,” Collins said. “Obviously, that’s the goal to keep on moving up and eventually to the big leagues. Just to get that next step in and get here and get my feet wet a little before the season ends is great.”

After he was acquired from the Cubs on July 13, Jimenez appeared in 29 games for Winston-Salem. He finished the month with 38 hits, including 11 doubles and eight home runs, 26 RBIs and 12 walks.

Jimenez produced a .345/.410/682 slash line for the Dash. He said he tried to avoid thinking about the promotion so he didn’t get distracted.

“Yes, (I was ready), but really, really I don’t think about it because when I think about it I struggle,” Jimenez said. “If God wants to take me here, whenever he feels I’m ready, I’m going to do my best job here. When they told me two days ago, I said ‘Ok. This is the time to keep working hard and just do whatever I’m going to do.’ ”