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On the hill: Jose Quintana (7-4, 3.67 ERA); Paul Clemens (4-4, 6.36 ERA)
Quintana vs. Astros (Career): 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 5 K's, 3 Walks, 4.2 IP
Clemens vs. White Sox: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K's, 0 Walks, 0.2 IP
Astros at at a glance: 44-86 (5th in American League West, 29 games out of first place)
Struggling offenses showing some pop The Astros and White Sox have two of the poorest offenses in the league this year, but yesterday's 10-8 score showed they could have some spark at the bat. As the White Sox look to rebound against Houston, they're not worried about impacting their pick in the upcoming draft.
Astros pitching leaders: Wins - Lucas Harrell (6); ERA - Harrell (5.55); Strikeouts - Erik Bedard (112); Saves - Travis Blackley (14)
Astros batting leaders: Average - Jason Castro (.280); Home runs - Chris Carter (25); RBIs - Carter (68); On-base percentage - Jason Castro (.354)
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The White Sox haven’t fooled themselves into believing anything they do the rest of the way counts toward next season.
They don’t think winning in August and September guarantees them anything in 2014.
But even so, White Sox players and coaches would prefer to continue this recent hot streak — at all costs — over the team’s final 33 games.
Even were they to lose critical spots in next June’s amateur draft, which in the grand scheme of things hurts the franchise, White Sox players and coaches are more concerned with the here and the now. So while the team’s 14-6 run since Aug. 6 has hurt their draft stock — the White Sox are still in position to own the No. 3 pick but are within striking distance of eight to 10 teams — belief in the clubhouse is any good that can come from a disappointing 2013 campaign is worthwhile.
“We’re not worried about what-ifs or this pick or that pick,” pitcher Chris Sale said. “We’re worried about ourselves, our team and finishing strong so when we go into spring training we have that good taste in our mouth and we know how to win.”
With a much younger team on hand, it would stand to reason that improved play over the final five weeks is significant.
The White Sox are a much different team now than when the season began. Nine of the 25 players on the active roster weren’t on the Opening Day roster. With Jake Peavy gone to Boston, the team’s starting rotation has four pitchers who are 25 or younger. More young pitchers are on the way in September.
Then there’s the addition of 22-year-olds Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia. But White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t think winning for them is necessary because both were developed in the strong organizations of the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. Ventura in fact thinks a little of the pair’s attitude has only added to a previously hard-working core and created a new dynamic.
“They’re winning-type players, and I think Rick (Hahn) did a good job when you’re trading people and you’re getting back good people that can play,” Ventura said. “Both of them, you’re getting guys that are coming here, playing hard and can do the right thing. That atmosphere kind of goes with getting a hit here and there that you start winning games, and right now it’s like that.”
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Veteran teammate Paul Konerko agrees with his manager: Winning now doesn’t mean squat when the 2014 season begins.
Were the White Sox to roll off 25 wins in 33 games and finish with 79 victories, it doesn’t change much.
But the recent hot streak has alleviated some pressure.
All along the White Sox worked hard, Konerko said. But without results they could only go to sleep at night knowing as much with no results to show.
Winning has cured some of that and reinforced that the White Sox — who have won five of the last six series they have played in — are operating correctly.
And while it doesn’t guarantee anything about the future, Konerko admits it should help the 2014 White Sox out in some ways.
“Winning can help the chemistry because the guys that are here right now will play together next year,” Konerko said. “Winning just kind of makes everybody get along a little better and have a little more fun. That is something that could carry over into next year, there’s no doubt.”
Sale wants to take the concept and run with it.
He hopes the White Sox can capture some of these good vibes and bring them with them to Glendale, Ariz., next February. With a new team going forward, Sale prefers the White Sox take advantage of their clean slate.
So while some fans probably want a top-three pick next June and the front office secretly covets one as well, Sale wants the benefits of winning.
“If we start winning as a group together that only catapults us to next year knowing that we can win, knowing that we played good at the end of the year,” Sale said. “Especially in the position we’re in and kind of taking that next year in spring and running with it.”