Hector Noesi kept a clear mind as he took the mound against his former team.
The Mariners-turned-White Sox starter fired 6 2/3 shutout innings to help pace his current team to a 1-0 win over his former team Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, though he said he didn't take any added motivation from facing the club that traded him away in mid-April.
"Yeah, it did cross my mind," Noesi said, "but if I put it in my mind I would get lost trying to do too much."
Noesi scattered five hits and two walks with five strikeouts, an impressive rebound effort after he walked seven and allowed five runs in five innings against the Angels last week. He stranded a runner in scoring position in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings before running into some trouble in the seventh.
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With one out, Dustin Ackley and Brad Miler singled to put the tying run on second once again. Noesi got Endy Chavez to fly out, and was pulled for left-hander Eric Surkamp.
Surkamp walked Michael Saunders but got Robinson Cano to fly out to end the threat. Noesi finished with at least six shutout innings for only the second time in 34 career starts — 19 of which came with the Mariners.
On April 12, Seattle dealt the right-hander to Texas for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Less than two weeks later — after Noesi gave up seven runs in a relief appearance against the White Sox — he was claimed off waivers and given a lifeline by the White Sox.
"He's a tough kid," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's confident and he knows what he can do. Sometimes you get an opportunity and you run with it, and I think that's what he's done. Anytime you go through the route that he's been out on and you get a chance to show what you've got, he's going to do it. You tip your hat to him. He's been able to do that for us and he's been a big lift for us."
Noesi lowered his ERA to 4.13 with the White Sox, by far the best stretch of his four-year major league career. His changeup has developed into a go-to pitch that he's throwing about one in every four offerings — this after being mostly a fastball/slider guy in Seattle.
Perhaps more than anything, though, Noesi's confidence is through the roof. He didn't fold after last week's brutal start and instead turned in one of the better outings of his career against a team right in the hunt for a wild card spot.
"When I got here (pitching coach Don Cooper) said ‘I’m going to fix you,’" Noesi said. "So I believe everything he says and he’s doing good with me. They gave me the opportunity to start and they said we just want you to go do what you have to do so I try to take advantage of that spot right now."