Chicago White Sox

White Sox win in Seattle, increase lead in AL Central

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White Sox win in Seattle, increase lead in AL Central

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Updated: 2:33 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SEATTLE Voices were muted and low in a clubhouse you would have sworn sat in the mausoleum otherwise known as the Metrodome after Sundays fall-from-ahead, 7-6 low-blow of a loss to the Minnesota Twins. Alex Rios called his wild slingshot of a game-ending error not acceptable. Bobby Jenks, who earned the loss as his two hits, two walks and zero outs sped the Chicago White Soxs free-fall out of town, spoke of how lonely it was on the mound when the world is collapsing all around him. Sergio Santos, the rookie shortstop-turned-fireballer assigned the custodial work on Jenkss mess and similarly unable to retire a batter, mused that the last time he was on the mound in a similar situation, he was 11 years old.

But there was no resignation or depression in the room. The White Sox responded as a band of brothers would. In fact, the toughest words came from manager Ozzie Guillen himself, proclaiming that any White Sox player afraid to fail wouldnt be a White Sox player for long. That may sound harsh out of context, but the skippers sentiment was shared with the full knowledge he believed every man in his clubhouse would rebound strong from Sundays sickening spate of adversity.

How appropriate, then, that the game-winning hit came from one of those Pale Hose seeking an instantaneous shot at redemption, Alex Rios. It was Rios fifth-inning, two-run blast that wasnt only the 100th of this career but so forceful it bounced off an unfortunate fans face in left and bounded back to the field.

Rios clout put the White Sox up by two runs in an eventual 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Rookie Daniel Hudson pitched 6.2 innings of at-times dominant ball, whiffing six Ms and scattering five hits for his first win of the season.

Hudson threw strikes and was pretty good, Guillen said, remarking that he emphasized diffusing pressure to the rookie before the game.

He threw strikes, catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed. He was a little too excited the other day. His rhythm was different tonight, slower and more under control. He threw the ball where he wanted to and was in control.

Hudson himself was much more content with this second start of the season, which became his second career major-league win.

After that first inning, I just wanted to focus on putting up some zeros and knew eventually those guys would get some runs for me, he said.

Before the game, White Sox General Manager Ken Williams mused that Rios had the worst luck hes ever seen in baseball, and that with how hard hes punished the ball all year, he should be hitting .400.

Well, the GM will have to settle for his most glorious reclamation project yet swimming steadily along as the White Soxs MVP, upping his digits on the year to 16 homers, 54 RBI and a .307 average and always chiming in with superb defense.

Its all about winning, its not about milestones, Rios said of home run No. 100. Its good when you win.

Rios has been big for us all year long, Guillen said. He continues to produce, and drove home big, big runs for us. Hes playing great.

The White Sox scored their final two runs of the game in the eighth. The first came on a monumental round-tripper from Andruw Jones, which had the dual effect of scoffing Detroit (now 2.5 games behind the Sox) when the ball bounded off of losing Tigers pitcher Enrique Gonzalezs name on the Safeco Field scoreboard. Chicago remained aggressive, with Alexei Ramirez following with a single and stolen baseadvance to third on error, plated by a beastly gapper by Gordon Beckham. The latter two players were specifically cited by Guillen postgame as sparkplugs as responsible as anyone for the turnaround of the team.

Indeed, the game had reached a point where with every Chisox swing, Seattle winced. That was a big turnaround from Sundays loss, which was pitched as a potential turning point for this White Sox team. And by turning point, no one meant a positive one.

But the team itself hardly winced, treating the final Minnesota loss as little more than a flesh wound, a glancing blow.

We didnt falter, we didnt change anything, we didnt panic and say, Oh my gosh, we have to win this game, Pierzynski said. We just went out and played, and things worked out.

We had a tough series in Minnesota and yet we bounced back here, Rios said. We know that every game is important.

And naturally, the bounce-back didnt surprise the skipper, whos been preaching an even keel through bad times and good.

I didnt believe this club would have any carryover from Minnesota, Guillen said. Even when we had the winning streak, we put it away, right away. I talk to the guys every day about one day at a time, and dont worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Thats the attitude we should take all year.

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

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The surprise that Master Sergeant Robert Brantly received on his final day of work is one he’ll never forget.

The father of White Sox catcher Rob Brantly, the elder Brantly was honored on the field on Monday night as the team’s Hero of the Game and joined by his son, who presented him with an autographed bat. The 37-year Air Force veteran, who also celebrated his 56th birthday, wasn’t informed he would be recognized by the White Sox on the field with his son until late Sunday.

“When I saw my son there and gave him a big hug and he told me I was his hero, it meant the world,” the elder Brantly said. “I can’t express it any other way than just gratitude for this organization, this team and my family putting up with me being away for so many different occasions with the military.

“I will never forget coming here to Chicago.”

The White Sox backstop said he informed the club that his father, an Angels fan, would be in town on his final day of employment in the Air Force. Brantly’s first day as a civilian is Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty emotional moment for me just knowing that my dad in the service he put into this country for almost 40 years fighting for our freedom, but also fighting to give me, his son, every opportunity in the world to succeed and he gave me this opportunity to be here and to be able to play Major League Baseball not only as a service man but as a father teaching me everything to know about baseball and the passion that comes along with the game,” the younger Brantly said.

“He would tell me he puts on that uniform every day so I don’t have to. It carries a lot of weight. To be able to do something like that for him and to finish off his career, his first day of retirement, tipping his cap to a Major League Baseball crowd giving him a standing ovation, it was a special moment for him and our family. I was glad I was able to be there to share that with him.”

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Ever since James Shields dropped down his arm angle, the strikeouts have increased considerably.

The White Sox pitcher struck out eight more batters in Monday night’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Shields, who pitched seven innings to earn a victory, has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning since he began to throw from a three-quarters angle in the middle of an Aug. 5 loss at Boston. While Shields still hasn’t perfected the new look -- he’s not even sure he’ll bring it back in 2018 -- it has caught the attention of opposing hitters.

“That was definitely a different Shields,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said. “He was moving the ball around tonight.”  

Shields might consider sticking with the lowered angle. The veteran often insists the adjustment is a work in a progress, though his results have continued to improve (he’s got a 3.51 ERA in his past four starts).

Overall, since Shields made the switch he has a 4.33 ERA in 60 1/3 innings, nearly two points below the 6.19 ERA he produced in his first 56 2/3 frames. Shields has also seen a reduction in home runs allowed per nine innings from 2.38 to 1.79.

But the most drastic change has been in strikeouts. Shields has increased his strikeout-rate to 23.5 percent, up from 16.6 percent. He’s whiffed 59 batters since making the adjustment after only 44 prior.

“He already curls, he closes off,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's got a cross-angle delivery, so you see his back a lot. But I think the variance in velocities, the breaking ball, he'll run the fastball, sink it. He's doing a lot with it, there's a lot of action going on so it's going to both sides of the plate. But the variance of velocity, especially with the breaking ball, sometimes it pops up there as an eephus or something. He's doing a real nice job.”

Shields has one season left on his current deal and seems likely to return to anchor a young White Sox rotation in 2018. Whether or not he’ll stay with the current setup remains to be seen.

“We’ll see,” Shields said “I’ll make some assessments in the offseason, and see how that works out, see how my body is feeling. Over the last month and a half, it seems to be working out. we’ll see how it goes.

“I’m revamping every year man. This being my 12th season, you’re always trying to refine your game every year, no matter what, whether it’s a pitch or mechanical adjustment. The league makes adjustments on you. I’ve faced a lot of these hitters so many times. I think Robbie Cano I’ve had almost 100 at-bats in my career against. But at the end of the day, you always have to make adjustments.”