Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head

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Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head

NASHVILLE, Tenn-- What was the difference between the White Sox losing the AL Central Division in 2012 and the Tigers winning it?
Jim Leyland knows.
I truly believe, and I dont know how this happened, the fact that we did pretty good against Kansas City and they did not was probably the decisive margin in the division, to be honest with you, said the Tigers manager on Wednesday. Its just freaky.
Yes, it was.
White Sox fans have the mental battle wounds to prove it.
Facing a team that wound up losing 90 games, the White Sox went 6-12 against the pesky Royals -- and even the victories werent easy. Five of those wins were decided by two runs or less.
Meanwhile, the Tigers pounded the Royals all season, going 13-5.
Considering the Tigers won the division over the White Sox by three games, you dont need to be amathematicianto know that Kansas City, by itself, decided who went to the playoffs and who did not.
The White Sox dont find this humorous, but apparently someone at Major League Baseball does. The White Sox open and close the 2013 season against their annoying friends from Kansas City.
Leylands Tigers were expected to run away with the division, but in the middle of the summer when the White Sox had as much as a 3.5 game lead, the Tigers, with a 133 million payroll were worried about their chances, legitimately concerned that they might not have what it took to snag the division away from the White Sox.
You read that correctly.
I can remember Gene Lamont saying during the season, Well catch them, but I dont know if well beat them, Leyland admitted. We caught them one time, then they took off on us again, and we finally caught them and passed them for good, but it was a heck of a race. They were a tough team.
When Leyland became a manager for the first time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, his team lost 98 games and finished in last place, 44 games out of first. So for him to watch Robin Ventura, who had never coached or managed a single professional game in his life, and almost win the division, Leyland was a little perturbed.
I thought he did an unbelievable job for a first-year manager, Leyland said. He kind of made it look easy to be honest with you. I didnt like that too much.
Losing 12 times to the Royals and 12 more to Leylands Tigers, Ventura didnt like too much either.
He and the White Sox are hoping to change that in 2013.

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox look to win sixth straight game on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox look to win sixth straight game on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Monday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (13-11, 3.21 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (8-19, 4.02 ERA)

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Todd Frazier, Miguel Gonzalez propel White Sox past Rays

Todd Frazier, Miguel Gonzalez propel White Sox past Rays

Todd Frazier reached the 40-home run plateau on Wednesday night and now his eyes are trained on 100 RBIs.

Frazier’s seventh-inning solo home run not only extended his hitting streak to 12 games, it provided the game’s only offense in a 1-0 White Sox victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 12,976 at U.S. Cellular Field. Frazier became only the seventh player in franchise history to hit 40 homers in a season with his 394-foot drive off Rays pitcher Eddie Gamboa. The blast offered Miguel Gonzalez and David Robertson just enough support as they combined on a three-hit shutout. Robertson recorded his 37th save in 44 tries.

“It’s a big deal any time a guy rounds off that number,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s always a big deal for you. He’s been wanting to get there for a while. I don’t know if you guys know, but he’s been talking about it for a while. I know I’ve heard it a lot. He’s been aiming for that. He wants to get 40 and 100 and especially if it counts like it did tonight and gets a guy a win.”

Frazier entered the game hitting .305/.374/.568 with six homers and 14 RBIs in September, easily his best month of the season. His homer came on a cold, windy night in which offense was at a premium.

The game was delayed for 21 minutes by rain, which continued through the first inning. The rains came again in the bottom of the third inning and delayed the contest for another 76 minutes.

Tampa’s third pitcher of the night, Gamboa’s 76-mph knuckleball caught too much of the plate and Frazier planted it about eight rows beyond the left-field bullpen with two outs in the seventh.

“Not many people have hit 40 home runs in a year so it’s a good feat to have,” Frazier said.

“It’s a great feat to have. I had a bunch of people text me ‘It’s coming. Today is the day.’ It wasn’t that much pressure. It was just a matter of knowing that it’s there and I’m glad to get it over with and now it’s on to another goal of mine.”

Frazier has never driven in 100 runs in a season. His 98 RBIs this season are nine more than his previous career high of 89 that he set in 2015.

Gonzalez hadn’t pitched into the ninth inning since he threw a four-hit shutout on Sept. 3, 2014. To get there he had to stay loose and sharp throughout the second delay of the night. Gonzalez threw twice during the delay, a total of 25 pitches in the indoor cage, and stretched to stay loose.

But being his final start, Gonzalez wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. He returned after the delay and was remarkable. He had stretches where he retired eight in a row in the middle and nine straight into the ninth before he yielded a one-out single to Logan Forsythe.

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He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out five. Gonzalez threw strikes on 71 of 102 pitches.

Robertson took over and needed only one pitch to record the save as Kevin Kiermaier grounded into a game-ending double play.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been out there for the ninth inning,” Gonzalez said. “It took me two years to get there, but they were swinging early. I made some good pitches early on. Got some quick outs, that’s what you got me to the ninth inning.

“Staying loose was really the most important thing for it.

“I was mentally prepared. Obviously you can’t get away with it. It was my last start. I was going out no matter what and didn’t give in and the results were there.”