Chicago White Sox

Wild White Sox dealt painful loss; limp home

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Wild White Sox dealt painful loss; limp home

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 9:22 p.m. Updated: 10:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

NEW YORK In the midst of an offensive bounty unseen so far in this four-game series, New York Yankees fans suddenly became so bored with a 12-3 lead they struck up a Wave.

Perhaps they needed the exercise after spending huge chunks of a six-run fifth inninga half-frame that stretched on for an extraordinary 32 minutes and padded New Yorks lead to 8-0loading up at the concession stand.

C.C. Sabathia threw seven easy innings, surrendering three runs and striking out six, to earn his second win.

We should know that when you face C.C., you should bring your best stuff, because you will be in a battle, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He always pitches well against us. We couldn't do anything right.

In fact, with the win Sabathia has improved his winning percentage vs. the White Sox to .810 (17-4), the best mark ever for a White Sox opponent.

On the other hand, Edwin Jackson was wild, falling behind 2-0 despite carrying a no-hitter into the fifth. And from there, it only got worse.

Throw strikes, was White Sox manager Ozzie Guillens advice to Jackson. You won't get away with much if you can't hit the strike zone when you face a lineup like this. Those guys are professional hittersthey're not going to chase anything. You have to be around the plate to get them. For the last three nights, we were around the plate.

You start a game throwing strikes, and all of a sudden you cant find the zone, Jackson said. You definitely put yourself in a situation where youre not helping yourself by doing so. Youve got to come out and attack the zone, make them put the ball in play, and take your chances.

That sounds like a terrific game plan, but as Jackson acknowledged he was atrocious in its execution, needing 91 pitches to record 12 outs and walking five to help surge his ERA to his highest point as a White Sox, 5.86.

Its a matter of thinking and not letting your instincts take over, and pounding the strike zone and trying to pitch instead of just going out and throwing to the glove, Jackson said. Its definitely frustrating when you come out and feel good and all of a sudden you cant find the strike zone. Its one of those things where you really cant go out and think. You just have to let your natural instinct take over.

Tony Pena relieved Jackson and left with elbow irritation, but not before helping to extend the Yankees lead to eight. Pena and Alex Rios, who limped off the field (toe) after circling unsteadily under Robinson Canos deep fly to end the seventh, both will be examined back in Chicago and are considered day-to-day.

It was a horrible end of an 11-game road trip for the White Sox, who harbored illusions of sweeping the Gothamers just two days earlier. Chicago finishes the trip at 3-8.

Its frustrating, Jackson said. Its just one of those things where you cant get in panic mode. You just have to keep coming out and fighting. Everyone is working hard. Sometimes you just dont get it done and just have to come back, start a new homestand, and hopefully get things rolling on a positive note.

It was terrible, Guillen reflected on the road trip. We finished the way we startedvery bad. We didn't plan it that way. We thought we would play better. We knew it was going be a tough road trip because of the teams we faced, but we're not hitting. We struggled at the plate. Hopefully, we turn things around at home.

The Captain tried to keep it positive after the game. His soliloquy was convincing to the gathered media; whether it sets in with his teammates is another matter.

Overall, its a 3-8 road trip. At the end of the day, thats all that matters, Paul Konerko said. Its been bad up to this point as a whole for the season, but that doesnt mean tomorrow has to be. Its way too early to get discouraged or to say, OK, this is the team thats going to be the team for the season.

Weve had some good times already. Just going off last years teamwe sure as hell dont want to wait two months to get goingthings can turn on a dime in this game. We learned it can turn in a bad way quickly, but we have to realize it can turn the other way just as quick.

Starting strong

For the second straight night, the White Sox wasted a golden opportunity to wreak havoc early. On Wednesday, Chicago loaded the bases vs. Bartolo Colon with none out and failed to score.

Against Sabathia on Thursday, the White Sox led off the game on fireBrent Lillibridge hit a shot to short that was ruled and error, and after Alexei Ramirezs sharp single to left the Pale Hose had runners on the corners with Carlos Quentin at the plate. But Lillibridge was thrown out at home on Qs quiet tapper to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Konerko popped out to Nick Swisher in right, and Adam Dunn flew out to Curtis Granderson in center.
Nick Swisher celebrates his seventh-inning home run, a two-run blast that put New York up 12-3. (AP)
It was the closest the White Sox came to scoring until the game was well out of hand.

With good pitchers you have to take advantage, Guillen said. When they're right, they have the stuff to shut you down. We let him off the hook, and then he was CC. We know we were going to face a tough pitcher out there. When you lose an advantage early, that is what you get.

We kind of had him on the ropes early, Konerko said. Hes turned into a great pitcher. He used to throw real hard and have some dominant stuff. He still throws hard enough but hes really very well-rounded. He has more of a repertoire now where he can do some things he didnt used to be able to do. You give a guy a lead like that, hes gone.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms 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.’ ”