Monday, April 18, 2011
Posted: 8:11 p.m. Updated: 10:40 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.David Price was hammered in the Chicago home opener, a game featuring every element of the purported All-In baseball the White Sox have signed up for this season.
Those heady times of just 10 days ago have dissipated, as Price held the Pale Hose completely in check with a three-run first to put the sleeper hold on a speedy, 5-0 win. Chicago failed to mount any real offensive threat, tapping out just four safeties and one of them a Carlos Quentin broken-bat bloop.
WATCH: Pierre says Sox need to battle
Oh yeah, Price was a bulldog tonight, said left fielder Juan Pierre, who saw his OPS dip to .648 with an 0-3 night. That was the best I have ever seen him pitch. The equalizer tonight was he changed speeds on us. I don't recall him changing speeds like that before. We have to battle through this stretch and continue to try and have good at-bats, but he was pretty good tonight.
Price was a different Price today than he was in Chicago, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. In Chicago, he was changeup and breaking ball, and today he was fastball first That was a different pitcher than we saw in Chicago.
The cherry on top of Mondays loss was a booming homer off of Matt Thornton to lead off the eighth by Felipe Lopez, who felt so guilty about piling on the embattled White Sox closer he bothered to neither toss his bat at the lefty and nor front and show up the Chisox.
Edwin Jackson, who polished a gem in that White Sox home opener on April 7, struggled through 98 pitches in a second straight start failing to find his feel and fell to 2-1 on the season. Overall, he kept the White Sox the game, surrendering four earned runs, but his offense couldnt rally on his behalf.
Jackson threw pretty good, maybe one mistake, on the first-inning Ben Zobrist home run, Guillen offered. But he was throwing very well. We just didnt score many runs.
WATCH: Jackson says the Rays had him ducking
It was a good, old-fashioned battle, said Jackson, who suffered his first career loss vs. Tampa and allowed more hits (11) and runs (four) in his seven innings than he had in his prior three career starts vs. the Rays. They put the ball in play and Price pitched a hell of a game. What can I say?
A mere 12,016 escaped 81-degree heat to bask in the Juice Box climate control, stuck fastidiously at 72, so its tempting for the Chicago 9 to pretend that this series opener didnt actually happen, or registers in a gymnasium intramural category of the standings.
But count it did. The White Sox started the season with two thumpings of the Cleveland Indians, who now lead the AL Central. The Rays started a franchise-worst 0-6. After tonight, the two clubs now stand at 7-9, and the team that looks more apt to taste playoff champagne this fall isnt the visitors.
Before the game, Guillen recalled his past diatribes regarding a Rays pizza promotion that finds ticketholders earning a free pizza if Tampa hurlers K 10 or more opponents.
Little did he know it was a premonition, as Price (nine in eight innings) and Joel Peralta (two in one) combined to earn the scattered and bipartisan crowd a free pie (for the record, Rays fans, pen Paul Konerko a thank-you as the 10th victim).
WATCH: Ozzie shares his thoughts on pizza
It seems like every time we come to Tampa Bay there are going to be a lot of people eating pizza, Guillen said. Every time we come here, its pizza for everyone. I never remember leaving here without giving away some pizza. We should be on the payroll for the restaurant; it must be great marketing when the White Sox comes to town.
The White Sox managed just four hits in the series opener and have tumbled down to a .263 team batting average and .734 team OPS. Still, Guillen isnt too concerned.
When asked about Gordon Beckham, mired in a slump that was aggravated by an 0-4 outing with two Ks on Monday, Guillen was similarly cool.
Well try to figure it out, he said. He took early hitting. He has slumped before. I will try to protect him, but its all about him. Hes my second baseman. He will be there until he kills me, but hes my second baseman and will be in the lineup.
Guillen sees Bacons struggle as endemic of those of his entire offense.
Right now, I cannot point to whos struggling. As a group, we all struggle. Then when we hit, they make a good defensive play vs. us. Thats part of the game. All you can do is when you wake up in the morning, be ready to fight again.
Its the way it is. Its a long season, and hopefully were hitting the wall offensively now and not later. I have confidence in this lineup.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.