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Tag:White Sox
Posted on: September 7, 2011 4:26 pm
 

On Deck: Wakefield goes for 200... again

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

WakefieldWe've been here before: Tim Wakefield has been trying to get career win No. 200 for over a month now, and will be making his seventh start (eight games total) since gaining his 199th victory. Wakefield's future past 2011 is in doubt, so he's running out of chances for the milestone. He'll get another shot at it Wednesday against Toronto, and needs to avoid a lousy start to prevent his ERA going north of 5.00. Brandon Morrow is going for the Jays, and while his 4.78 ERA doesn't look impressive, his 3.45 xFIP suggests that Morrow's been better than advertised. Red Sox vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

OswaltBeachyBest matchup: The best pitching matchup pits one of Philadelphia's Big Four against Atlanta's Brandon Beachy -- and it's Beachy with the better ERA. Roy Oswalt has struggled with back injuries this year, but still has a 3.80 ERA entering play Wednesday. Beachy, though, is at 3.37. Beachy has been especially hot recently, registering a 2.79 ERA in his last six starts. Oswalt has his own streak, winning four of his last five games, as the Associated Press writes. This after winning just once in his last 10 turns. A victory tonight would put the Braves in a double-digit deficit for the division, as well as push Oswalt's win-loss record to .500 at 8-8. Braves vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

SoxTwinsFive in a row: The Twins made a pretty nice run of things in the middle months of the year to make them pseudo-contenders for a brief bit. Alas, they're back to their losing ways, and will seek to avoid five straight losses when Carl Pavano goes up against John Danks. Chicago is pretty much out of the division race too at 8 1/2 back, but don't tell that to Ozzie Guillen. "We're still in the pennant race," he told the AP. "I know it's going to be hard. ... One thing about it, we're not going to quit." That's all well and good, but it's over, Ozzie. It's over. By the way, this is the last time these two teams face each other in 2011, and the White Sox are on a 8-1 roll against the Twins. With a win tonight, Chicago would take the season series, 10 wins to 8 losses. A loss puts them in a tie. White Sox vs. Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

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Category: MLB
Tags: Twins, White Sox
 
Posted on: September 5, 2011 9:38 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Valencia breaks up Stewart's perfect game bid

By Matt Snyder

Rookie starting pitcher Zach Stewart came to the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson/Colby Rasmus three-way trade in July, and Monday evening he started to make a name for himself. The 24-year-old pitcher got the start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Twins, and he cruised through 7 1/3. In fact, he had a perfect game until Danny Valencia doubled to right field with one out in the seventh.

The outing comes as a bit of a surprise, as Stewart was shelled in his previous two outings. Plus, this is only his eighth career start.

Still, he went the distance, allowing only Valencia's double in a complete game shutout. He struck out nine and dominated the Twins from start to finish in a 4-0 White Sox victory. They are now eight games behind the Tigers in the AL Central playoff race.

There are two perfect games in White Sox history, most recently Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009 against the Rays. Click here to see a list of all perfect games in MLB history.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 5:51 pm
 

Playoff Race: Tigers strengthen grip on Central

By Matt Snyder

Here's a breakdown of the AL Central race -- or what's left of it -- with all data through games of Sept. 5.

Detroit Tigers
Record: 79-62
21 games remaining: 11 road, 10 home
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .456
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 97.5 percent

Cleveland Indians
Record: 70-68, 7.5 games back
24 games remaining: 13 road, 11 home
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .492
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 0.9 percent

Chicago White Sox
Record: 69-69, 8.5 GB
24 games remaining: 13 home, 11 road
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .472
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 1.6 percent

Playoff race

When the Tigers won Monday against the Indians, things seemed to get a lot more set in stone in what used to be a competitive race. Still, the Indians have five games left against the Tigers, so anything is possible. The White Sox have eight games against the Indians and three against the Tigers, so we can't completely count them out based upon mathematics, either. Still, with Justin Verlander likely to get four more starts and the easiest remaining schedule, it's awfully difficult to see the Tigers cough up more than a week's worth of games' lead in just three weeks. The wheels would have to completely fall off. With games against the Indians Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tigers could essentially nail down the division this week.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Remembering the best races of the past 5 years



By Matt Snyder

This coming Wednesday will mark three weeks until the final day of Major League Baseball's regular season for 2011. While it's possible we'll have something go down to the wire -- Rangers-Angels, perhaps? -- many of the races seem to be turning into a yawnfest. With that in mind let's re-live the best race in each of the past five seasons.

2006 - NL Central
The Cardinals won the World Series that year, but almost blew a chance at the playoffs. With an injury-depleted roster, the Cards lost nine of 11 games from September 18-28, seeing a seven-game lead dwindle down to just a half-game over the Astros. A four-game sweep in Houston didn't help. The funny thing was, the Reds were actually tied for first with the Cardinals after winning on August 24 but went through a similar swoon to fall back. After pulling into that tie with the Cardinals, the Reds lost nine of 10 games. The Astros had simply been a mediocre team all season, but the futility of the teams above them made this a three-team race. The result was the Cardinals winning the division after buckling down and winning three of four to clinch with one day left in the season. They finished an uninspiring 83-78, with Astros finishing 1 1/2 games back and the Reds 3 1/2 back. Still, they won it all and proved all you have to do is get there to have a shot.

2007 - The entire NL
The Rockies get most of the ink here, and rightfully so, but every single race in the National League was a good one in '07 while the AL races weren't overly exciting at all. The Central division was actually the least exciting of the races in the NL, and the Cubs only won it by two games. The Brewers were tied with the Cubs on September 18, but the Cubs won four straight and built a 3 1/2 game lead. Like I said, that was the least exciting race in the NL. The Phillies trailed the Mets in the NL East -- and sometimes the Braves -- for the overwhelming majority of the season. In fact, the Phillies never saw first place until September 27, and even then it was a tie with the Mets. The Mets had a seven-game lead on September 12, but proceeded to lose six of seven games and see their lead shrink to 1 1/2 games. The Mets then won three straight and looked like they would hold on, but five consecutive losses then handed the lead to the Phillies. The Mets did win a game and pull to within a tie prior to the last game of the season, but lost that while the Phillies won and took the East. And now we get to the West/Wild Card race(s). It looked like the Padres and Diamondbacks were going to have a two-team race with the loser getting the Wild Card, but then the Rockies historical run happened. They won 14 of their last 15 games, including that extra-inning victory over the Padres in the one-game playoff -- in which Matt Holliday may or may not have touched home plate when scoring the winning run. The game was an absolute classic, with the Padres scoring two runs in the 13th, followed by the Rockies getting three off future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman in the bottom half of the inning. This game was for the Wild Card, as the D-Backs were able to finish the regular season with a one-game lead over both the Padres and Rockies. The Padres actually held a two-game lead over the Rockies with two games to play, and lost both of them -- only to lose in the one-game playoff as well. It should be noted that the Mets were only one game behind the Padres heading into the last day of the season, so a win would have made for a three-way tie in the Wild Card. Basically, what looked like a Mets, Diamondbacks, Padres and Cubs/Brewers playoffs became totally different after the Phillies and Rockies got different degrees of hot in the last few weeks. Maybe that season provides hope for an interesting September in 2011?

2008 - AL Central
The White Sox led by as many as six games in June, but a 10-game winning streak by the Twins knotted the two and they'd stay neck and neck for the rest of the season. The two teams were tied on three different days in September and weren't separated by more than 2 1/2 games all month. What was interesting here is the White Sox finished the season a half-game behind the Twins. There was a lingering rainout against the Tigers that the White Sox had to play the Monday following the conclusion of the actual season. If they won that, it would be a tie for first in the Central and the White Sox would host a one-game playoff. They beat the Tigers 8-2 and then took down the Twins 1-0 behind a masterful performance from John Danks (eight shutout innings, only two hits allowed). The only run the White Sox scored was a solo home run from Jim Thome in the bottom of the seventh.

2009 - AL Central
The Tigers had a seven-game lead after winning September 6, but went 11-15 the rest of the way. The Twins went 18-8 and ran them down, ending the season in a tie for the AL Central crown and forcing what would become an epic one-game playoff. Interestingly enough, the Tigers had a two-game lead heading into the penultimate series of the year, which was a four-game set against, yes, the Twins. It was in Detroit and the Tigers came away with a split. That should have been good enough, as the Tigers now had a two-game lead with three to play. Instead, the Tigers dropped two of three to the White Sox while the Twins swept the Royals. Thus, the one-game playoff would be played in the Metrodome. It would be one of the more exciting baseball games in recent memory. Nine innings weren't enough, as the game headed to extras knotted at four. The Tigers scored in the top of the 10th, but the Twins answered in the bottom half, spurred on by a leadoff triple from Michael Cuddyer. The Twins nearly won the game that very inning, but Alexi Casilla was hosed at home plate by left fielder Ryan Raburn on a potential sacrifice fly. Casilla came away the hero in the 12th, however, as he plated Carlos Gomez (pictured left with Joe Mauer) in the 12th with a walk-off single.

2010 - NL West/Wild Card
Like the Cardinals in 2006, the Giants ended up being the World Series champs after nearly missing out on the postseason. The Giants trailed the Padres by 6 1/2 games on August 25, but from September 4 until September 30, no more than two games separated the two teams. The pivotal series ended up being the Padres losing three of four at home to the lowly Cubs. This put them down three games with three to play. Wouldn't you know it, though, that the final three games were against the Giants. So the Padres could sweep the Giants and force a one-game playoff. Essentially, they controlled their own destiny, but would have to beat the Giants four times in a row. They did win the first two, but Jonathan Sanchez and five other pitchers would shut the Padres out on the final game of the regular season, and the Giants won the West by two games. In the Wild Card race, the Padres had the lead until that fateful Cubs' series, during which the Braves swept the Marlins and passed the Padres. Still, the Braves lost two games as the Padres took the first two from the Giants in the final weekend, meaning the Braves and Padres were tied with one game left. The Padres lost while the Braves survived two late rallies by the Phillies, winning 8-7.

So, will any of the present races provide the kind of excitement we've seen in the past few years? Considering the runner-up of the AL East is going to be the Wild Card, it appears our only chance is the AL West. Then again, would we have predicted the '07 Rockies or '09 Twins to make up the ground they did? That should at least provide some hope for fans of teams like the Giants and Indians this year.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:17 pm
 

Guillen says he wants to stay in Chicago

Ozzie GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Today's Ozzie Guillen update: the White Sox manager says he wants to stay in Chicago.

Before Sunday night's game, Guillen was asked about his "strength of conviction to return." His answer:

"Two-thousand percent," Guillen said (MLB.com). "That's the talk about dinner, lunch, sleep, everything. This is the talk with my family. And we never change one bit. All my time, my desire, everything has been Chicago.

"See this White Sox logo? I'm part of that. I wish I could be in the Hall of Fame one time, so I could wear this freaking uniform. That's how much I love this organization."

Guillen said he's not sure what he would do if he was asked to change his coaching staff.

On Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported general manager Kenny Williams had an argument with hitting coach Greg Walker. Earlier in the week the newspaper reported that Guillen and Williams' relationship was "beyond repair" and then Guillen said he wouldn't manage next season without an extension. Guillen is under contract for 2012.

Without meaningful games to be played to take the attention away from Guillen's future (the White Sox are fading fast in the American League Central), and that question may not be answered quickly. The big question is if Guillen will go -- or the White Sox will let him go -- to the Marlins, who open a new ballpark in 2012 and their current manager, Jack McKeon, reportedly will not return next season.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 12:15 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kottaras cycles, Santos implodes

Kottaras

By Evan Brunell

3 UpGeorge Kottaras, Brewers: Kottaras delivered MLB's first cycle of the year, going 4 for 5 with two runs and RBI apiece. In order, Kottaras flied out to start the game, homered, tripled, rapped a RBI single and then a ground-rule double in the top of the ninth. STATS, LLC also found that two of the last three catchers to cycle were Brewers, with Chad Moeller accomplishing the feat in 2004. The Brewers took down Houston, 8-2.

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics:
Brandon McCarthy has been dazzling as of late, and contributed a complete-game shutout on Saturday, pumping 10 strikeouts by the Mariners while allowing just three hits. It was a tour de force for the righty, who threw 114 pitches for 78 strikes. "As much time as I've spent hurt, and you've got everyone out there and behind you when things are going well, it kind of makes you feel like you're on top of the world," McCarthy said, whose promising career was wrecked for years with Texas. "I had to remember to focus and not get caught up in it."

Billy Hamilton, Dayton Dragons (Reds Class A): We don't usually cover minor leaguers in this space, but Hamilton accomplished a cool feat Saturday. He stole three bases to reach 100 on the year, the first minor leaguer to do so since Chris Harris with 111 back in 2001. Hamilton also contributed a 2-for-3 effort in the outing to push his overall line to .278/.339/.360 for the year. The 20-year-old can flat out steal -- obviously -- and if his post-All-Star line of .318/.380/.388 line can be believed, could be in line for quite a few 3 Ups down the line. The last time a major leaguer stole 100 in a season was Vince Coleman's 109 in 1987.



3 DownSergio Santos, White Sox: Santos didn't quite take to his role as anointed 2012 closer too well Saturday. Santos gave up three runs in the ninth, getting just two outs, as the Tigers walked off on a Miguel Cabrera homer (with a two-run shot by Ryan Raburn earlier in the inning). It was Santos' fifth blown save of the year, and while this outing won't affect his status for next year (well, the team is managed by Ozzie Guillen...), it sure can't feel good. "I think every loss hurts when you play this game or when you compete," Guillen said. "But this one is very painful. This game was huge for us. It was a very important game."

Brian Duensing, Twins:
Not only did Duensing give up five earned runs in 1 1/3 of an inning (drawing the loss in a 10-6 game), he came out of the game hurt. He had to leave the game with a right oblique strain, and could miss the rest of the year the way oblique strains have acted these days. Or he could only need to miss a start. Either way, it was a lousy outing for the lefty, whose ERA is now 5.24.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs: A year after impressing people, Colvin has delivered an extraordinarily poor year. He struck out three times en route to an 0-for-5 night on Saturday, dropping his line to .145/.200/.306 in 186 at-bats. The Cubs may have some openings in the outfield next season, but Colvin is giving no indication he will be part of the mix with an OPS over 300 points lower than 2010's .816 on the backing of 20 homers.

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Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:45 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Report: GM Williams in spat with hitting coach

Walker

By Evan Brunell

White Sox GM Kenny Williams and hitting coach Greg Walker had strong words for each other recently, culminating in Williams telling Walker to clean his locker out, the Chicago Sun-Times writes.

Walker was reacting to Williams' comments about second baseman Gordon Beckham's swing, after the GM said Aug. 19 that he preferred Beckham's swing from the University of Georgia as opposed to the one he has now. When owner Jerry Reinsdorf heard about the spat, he was able to calm everyone down and allow Walker to keep his job.

“I’d rather not comment on it,’’ Walker (pictured) said of the incident to the Sun-Times, which CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler says happened during the home series against Texas Aug. 19-21. “What goes on in our clubhouse stays in our clubhouse. It’s been a very frustrating year for a lot of people.’

The White Sox seem to be devolving into a mess, as manager Ozzie Guillen has been a lightning rod all season. Guillen and Williams have a fractured relationship that caused the skipper to say he would not manage next season, the final year of his deal, without a contract extension -- but he may not even make it to next season, as the prevailing opinion is that one of Guillen or Williams, if not both, will be let go after the year. That creates a lot of uncertainty for Guillen's coaches.

“There’s an expiration date on all coaches and managers -- and players,’’ Walker added. “I had a career as a player and that was over. I’ll wait till the end of the year and I’ll make a decision -- or they will make a decision. But in a pennant race with guys fighting as hard as they are, the last thing I want is to be is a distraction or become a story."

Reinsdorf is considered a loyal owner and has worked diligently behind the scenes to keep the Williams/Guillen relationship harmonious -- as harmonious as it can possibly be, anyways. But as the season winds to a close in what has been a frustrating year for the White Sox, who remain in striking distance for the division at 6/12 back of Detroit, tempers are starting to boil over, but Walker wants no part of it.

“My goal to come here was not to be a personality. I came here to help players. I am still doing that every day. Sometimes we’re not getting the results we desire and that’s part of the business. It’s been very frustrating for everybody involved and that’s all I can say about it," Walker noted. “So far we haven’t played well and our department is a big part of it. So yeah, I’ve been frustrated about it just like everybody else. But I’m not the story. I’m just a hitting coach. It’s an important role but in the big picture it’s way down the food chain.’’

Beckham was a highly-regarded second baseman coming out of college, being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft and debuting the following year with a .270/.347/.460 line in 430 plate appearances. Beckham has slid backwards since then, though, and currently has a .231/.291/.330 mark in 460 PA.

“Any high fastball, he could get on top if it with his top hand,’’ Williams had said back on Aug. 19, sparking Walker's ire. “But again, as the general manager you sit back and you have to respect the work that your coaches do and you have to respect the desire from the player as to what he thinks will work. I personally liked the swagger and the cock that he had of his wrists and the loading of his hands when he had the previous swing I spoke of.’’

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Posted on: September 3, 2011 1:32 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Jackson heating up for Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Austin Jackson, Tigers. The young center fielder had been an offensive disappointment for much of the Tigers' season, but he started to show signs of life a few weeks ago. Now, he's flat out hot. With a 3-for-5 game in which he hit a home run, and the Tigers won 8-1, Jackson has now put together a huge five-game stretch. In those five games, he's hitting .500 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, four RBI and eight runs scored. His OPS is 1.417 in that stretch. The Tigers lineup looks a lot scarier with him swinging the bat like he can. Just ask the White Sox.

The San Francisco Giants. They went into Friday night's game trailing the Diamondbacks by six games. The D-Backs came in with a nine-game winning streak. And the defending champs came through with exactly the effort they needed. Matt Cain battled through eight innings, despite not having his best command or stuff (he walked four while only striking out three). The offense got a huge effort from July acquisition Carlos Beltran (4-for-4, triple, home run, three RBI). Put it together and mix in an all-around team effort, and you have a 6-2 Giants victory. The deficit is still five games, but there are two games left in the series at San Fran. This thing could be three games by Labor Day. Of course, if the D-Backs take the next two it's a seven-game difference. We'll see. Head-to-head series in the last month are fun.

Kevin Millwood, Rockies. I don't care if it was against the offensively-challenged Padres in the best pitcher's park in the majors, because Millwood was picked up off the scrap heap by Colorado. Thus, his seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts and zero walks in the Rockies' 3-0 win certainly bears mention here.



Andrew Miller, Red Sox. With the Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka injures -- not to mention how unreliable John Lackey has been -- the Red Sox lost a lot of starting pitching depth. So when Miller strung together back-to-back victories (0.77 ERA), there was hope that the former first rounder might be finally emerging. Instead, Friday night was a wakeup call. Miller coughed up five hits, four walks and six earned runs to the Rangers in just 1 1/3 innings. The outing set the tone for a 10-0 loss, as the offense was stymied by Derek Holland, who threw seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees won, which means the Red Sox are now back to second place (by a half game).

John Danks, White Sox. The White Sox have a big opportunity this weekend, but didn't start off on the right foot Friday. They entered the three-game series trailing the Tigers by 5 1/2 games. With Justin Verlander pitching Friday, Danks was going to have to bring his A-game and keep it close. Instead, he turned in one of his worst outings of the season. The Tigers dinged him for nine hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, as the White Sox lost 8-1. The loss essentially makes the final two games of the series must-wins for the White Sox. If they lose both, they'll be 8 1/2 out. Even a split keeps them at 6 1/2 and that's tough to make up in 3 1/2 weeks -- especially when Verlander is going every fifth day for the team they're chasing.

Braves pitching staff/planning. The Braves' staff was spotted a 5-0 lead through three innings Friday, but couldn't hold it. One of the biggest issues may have been the overuse of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel at the back-end of the bullpen. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had told reporters he wanted to avoid using either Friday. So that means he was likely holding back from using Scott Linebrink or Eric O'Flaherty before the eighth. After starter Brandon Beachy let the Dodgers creep to within 5-3 in the sixth, Gonzalez needed to dip into his reportedly short-handed bullpen. The result was Arodys Vizcaino allowing four hits, two walks and five earned runs in the seventh -- and an 8-6 loss. The Braves' usual seventh-to-eighth-to-ninth inning bullpen combo (O'Flaherty/Venters/Kimbrel) is the best in baseball, but they've been heavily leaned upon all season. Gonzalez better get them some rest down the stretch, or Friday night's game will be a harbinger for the postseason. He'll need some combination of O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel available in every game in October. Maybe try to get by with Linebrink or the starting pitcher in the seventh and use two of the three studs in the eighth and ninth to keep everyone fresh? It is worth mentioning that Peter Moylan will be back from his rehab assignment soon, so that should help alleviate some of the pressure.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com