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Tag:White Sox
Posted on: June 11, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: June 11, 2010 12:10 pm
 

3 to watch: The 2 days till Strasburg II edition

Until further notice, every Stephen Strasburg start is going to be worth watching. Thus, until further notice, every Stephen Strasburg start will be part of 3 to watch.

Strasburg II will be Sunday, and while there may have been a more-anticipated debut-plus-one, we can't remember one.

So who made the best second start ever?

A few candidates, with the help of baseball-reference.com's play finder :

-- Clay Buchholz, Sept. 1, 2007, for the Red Sox, against the Orioles. He threw a no-hitter. We really don't need any more candidates, do we?

-- Wilson Alvarez, Aug. 11, 1991, for the White Sox, against the Orioles. He threw a no-hitter, too. So there can be a debate, after all. Or maybe this just means we need to make plans for Strasburg's first start against the Orioles.
 
-- Burt Hooton, Sept. 15, 1971, for the Cubs, against the Mets. He was knocked out of the game by the Cardinals in the fourth inning of his debut, but Hooton rebounded with a complete game three-hitter, with 15 strikeouts.

-- Dick Selma, Sept. 12, 1965, for the Mets, against the Braves. A four-hit, 10-inning shutout for a 1-0 win, with 13 strikeouts. But only 13,500 turned up at Shea Stadium to see it, so it must not have been the most-anticipated Game 2 (and only 5,981 turned up at Wrigley Field for his next start, so the 10-inning shutout must not have been big news nationwide).

-- Tim Fortugno, July 25, 1992, for the Angels, against the Tigers. I must have been at this game, and yet I have no memory of it. A three-hit shutout, with 12 strikeouts.

-- Randy Johnson, Sept. 20, 1988, for the Expos, against the Cubs. The first of his 212 double-digit strikeout games, a 9-1 complete-game win.

-- Jack Morris, July 31, 1977, for the Tigers, against the Rangers. Morris, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, pitched nine innings and allowed two runs. Bert Blyleven, who many believe belongs in the Hall of Fame, pitched nine innings and allowed two runs. Maybe if one or the other had gotten the win, it would be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Remember when Jake Peavy was supposed to be a Cub? Remember when the White Sox were supposed to be good? The White Sox aren't good, but at least Peavy gets a trip to the North Side, for White Sox at Cubs, Friday afternoon (2:20 EDT) at Wrigley Field .

2. Remember when Daisuke Matsuzaka last faced the Phillies? (Hint: It was only three weeks ago.) He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. The Phillies believed they were terribly unlucky that day, because they hit so many balls hard. We'll see, because they get another chance at Dice-K, in Phillies at Red Sox, Saturday afternoon (4:10 EDT) at Fenway Park .

3. Remember when nobody would have cared about a Nationals-Indians game? Now, it's big enough that TBS changed the schedule to show Nationals at Indians, Sunday afternoon (1:07 EDT) at Progressive Field . Any idea why? Must have something to do with the guy starting for the Nationals. Strasburg is one reason to watch this game. Catcher Carlos Santana, the Indians super-prospect who was called up Friday, is another.

Posted on: June 6, 2010 8:31 pm
 

3 to watch: The Perfect prospects edition

The two biggest early-season trends in baseball, we said last week, were perfect games and imperfect umpires.

We missed a trend: Perfect prospects.

Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. Mike Stanton.

And don't forget Bryce Harper.

Monday, the Nationals are expected to use the first pick of the draft on Harper, touted as the best power-hitting prospect scouts have seen in ages. Tuesday, the Nationals will show off Strasburg, touted as the best pitching prospect anyone has ever seen. That same night, the Marlins will show off Stanton, who is only leading all of professional baseball in home runs.

Take it a day farther, and you have Stanton and the Marlins facing Roy Halladay on Wednesday, just 11 days after Halladay's perfect game in Florida.

So there you have it, the perfect convergence, with one of the perfect game pitchers facing one of the perfect prospects.

Let's hope that doesn't mean we're headed for more imperfect umpiring.

On to this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Nationals attracted their biggest crowd since opening day last Friday, which if you remember was the rumored day for Strasburg's debut. A much bigger crowd is expected for Pirates at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Nationals Park , since this really is going to be Strasburg's debut. What, you thought everyone just wants to see the Pirates? The Washington Post suggested it's the "most buzzed-about happening" in Washington since the Obama inauguration. That might be a little much, but you get the idea -- this is a big deal.

2. So if Armando Galarraga throws a no-hitter, in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 EDT) at U.S. Cellular Field , does he count as having tied Johnny Vander Meer? Or actually one-upped him, since neither of Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters was a perfect game, let alone a 28-out perfect game? One more thing to think about, in the admittedly very unlikely event that Galarraga is perfect again: Before last Wednesday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland had been planning to skip Galarraga's turn this time through the rotation.

3. Thanks to Stanton, who hit 21 home runs in 52 games at Double-A Jacksonville, the Marlins lineup that Halladay will face, in Marlins at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park , will not be the same one he faced on May 29 in Miami. But at least it's still the same team. Of the last 11 pitchers to pitch a perfect game (not including Galarraga), Halladay will be just the second to face the same team later in the same year. The only other pitcher to do it in the division play era (i.e. since 1969) was David Wells in 1998. Three months after his May 17 perfect game against the Twins, he saw them again -- and shut them out again, this time on four hits.
Posted on: May 14, 2010 10:05 am
Edited on: May 14, 2010 10:09 am
 

3 to watch: The this isn't perfect edition

In the 1044 days since July 4, 2007, the Twins have won a division title and gone to a 163rd game before losing another. They've had a player win an MVP, and they've moved outdoors.

And they've won exactly zero games in New York City.

Not in the old Yankee Stadium. Not in the new Yankee Stadium.

Not in the regular season. Not in the postseason.

You might say they've been perfect -- or perfectly frustrated, given the way their two visits went last year.

In May: A 5-4 loss in which the Yankees scored three times off Joe Nathan in the ninth, a 6-4 loss in which Alex Rodriguez homered off Craig Breslow in the 11th, a 3-2 loss in which Johnny Damon homered off Jesse Crain in the 10th and a 7-6 loss in which the Yankees scored six times in the first.

In October: A 7-2 loss in Game 1, and then an excruciating 4-3, 11-inning loss in a Game 2 that included A-Rod's ninth-inning homer off Nathan, Mark Teixeira's game-winning home run in the 11th off Jose Mijares, and also Phil Cuzzi's mistaken call taking a double away from Joe Mauer.

Perfect, huh?

Speaking of which, Dallas Braden and Mark Buehrle both take to the mound tonight, leading off this edition of 3 to watch:

1. It's been 295 days since Buehrle's perfecto against the Rays, and while he hasn't been winless in that time, he hasn't been anywhere near perfect, either. He's 4-11 in 20 starts, with a 4.85 ERA. The White Sox have lost the last five times he's gone to the mound. They'll try again, in White Sox at Royals, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Kauffman Stadium , a game which will also be Ned Yost's debut as Royals manager. Good news for the Sox: They've won six of Buehrle's last seven starts against the Royals.

2. As colleague Scott Miller detailed yesterday, Braden seems to have enjoyed the four days since he made history against the Rays. (He's certainly enjoyed it more than Buehrle has enjoyed the last 295 days.) He'll make his first start as a major celebrity tonight in Anaheim, against an Angels team he beat in April, but lost to in all three starts last year. It's A's at Angels, Friday night (10:05 EDT) at Angels Stadium .

3. Andy Pettitte hasn't thrown a perfect game in any of his 464 career starts. But he was perfect enough for the Yankees last October and November, winning the clinching game in all three postseason series. The Twins will remember the first of those, a 4-1 win that closed out the Metrodome in Game 3. Pettitte hasn't even lost a regular season game to the Twins since April 30, 2001, when he threw an eight-inning complete game at the Metrodome, and lost 2-1 to Brad Radke. Pettitte will be the focus again, in Twins at Yankees, Saturday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium , because he hasn't pitched since leaving his April 5 start (and win) against the Orioles because of inflammation in his left elbow.



Posted on: May 2, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2010 2:11 pm
 

3 to watch: The 'We need you' edition

J.A. Happ remains on the disabled list, maybe for a few more weeks. Cole Hamels is tied for the National League lead in home runs allowed. Kyle Kendrick has a 7.61 ERA, and after waiting a couple of days to decide whether he'd make his next start, the Phillies basically said, "Yes he will, but only because we have nobody else."

So yes, the Phillies need Joe Blanton right now, as much as they've needed him at any time since that home run off Edwin Jackson in the 2008 World Series.

It's true that Blanton gave up five runs in five innings in his last minor league rehabilitation start, against Stephen Strasburg's Harrisburg Senators. But it's also true that in three career starts against the Cardinals -- the St. Louis Cardinals -- Blanton is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA.

So with Blanton returning from the disabled list to face the Cardinals, is there any doubt which game should lead off this week's 3 to watch?

1. It's not just that Blanton is making his 2010 debut, after missing the first month of the season with a strained left oblique. It's also that right now these are the two best teams in the league, and they open a four-game series with Cardinals at Phillies, Monday night (7:10 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . Somehow, the Cards and Phillies met only five times all last season (with the Phillies winning four of the games, and Blanton providing two of those wins). Somehow, the Cardinals lost three straight to the Dodgers last October, which kept them from meeting the Phillies in the playoffs. At least we get four games this week, although since Chris Carpenter pitched Sunday, we won't get a Carpenter-Roy Halladay matchup this week.

2. Jake Peavy had one winless month in his last 5 1/2 years with the Padres. He was winless with a 7.85 ERA in his first April with the White Sox. He thinks he discovered what's wrong, while watching video of a 2007 start against the Rays, and he thinks he's well on the way to solving the problem. Maybe that's true, although White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters Sunday, "You can talk about a whole lot of stuff -- mechanics, this and that, and the other things. But it's time to get people out." Peavy tries to do that in Royals at White Sox, Monday night (8:10 EDT) at U.S. Cellular Field . Also worth watching: With Juan Pierre off to a horrible start (.202 batting average, .272 on-base percentage) as the White Sox leadoff man, how loudly will the fans cheer Scott Podsednik, the leadoff man who the Sox allowed to leave (and who has a .390 on-base percentage for the Royals)?

3. It's not fair to say that Joel Pineiro took John Lackey's place in the Angels rotation, but it is fair to say that the one change the Angels made over the winter was to let Lackey sign as a free agent and to sign Pineiro to fill the vacant spot. Sure enough, Pineiro will be the Angels' starter in Lackey's first start against his former team, in Angels at Red Sox, Wednesday night (7:10 EDT) at Fenway Park . The last time the Angels were at Fenway, Lackey was among those celebrating Vladimir Guerrero's game-winning hit off Jonathan Papelbon (which scored Chone Figgins) to finish the Angels' first-round sweep. Guerrero and Figgins are gone, and Papelbon has saved Lackey's two wins.

Posted on: April 30, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2010 7:00 pm
 

Ozzie speaks out

NEW YORK -- Ozzie Guillen isn't illegal, and he may not be your typical immigrant. But given the platform, the White Sox manager is more than willing to speak out for immigrants everywhere.

Guillen -- a Venezuela native who became a U.S. citizen in 2006 -- said that his adopted country should be happy that so many people want to live here.

"People come here for a reason," Guillen said, when asked about the new Arizona immigration law. "People don't come here for a bad reason. They don't come here to do bad stuff. They come here to make money, they come here to work, and they come here to make this country better. This country can't  live without all the Latinos. Sorry. . There's a lot of people from this country, they're very lazy. We do the hard work. We're the one who've got to go out there and work in the sun, all day long, to make this country better.

"We're not leaving."

Guillen had one more thing to say.

"The funny thing about it, most of the police that stop you [in Arizona], the last name is Hernandez or Rojas."

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 25, 2010 10:03 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2010 10:13 pm
 

3 to watch: The almost Cy vs. Cy edition

This is the week you really wish you could tweak a couple of pitching rotations.

This is the week the Mariners play the Royals -- but 2009 Cy Young rivals Felix Hernandez (pitching Monday) and Zack Greinke (pitching Tuesday) miss each other by a day.

This is the week the Phillies play the Giants -- but possible 2010 Cy Young rivals Roy Halladay (pitching Monday) and Tim Lincecum (pitching Wednesday) miss each other by two days.

That's fine, because this is also the week the Tigers and Twins get together for the first time this season. So, with no power to change rotations, we'll stick with the American League Central rivals to lead off this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Twins never led the division by more than one game last year -- and they didn't even hold that lead until two days after the regular season was scheduled to end. The Twins already lead by three games this year, and one scout who saw them recently declared, "If they had a legitimate closer, they'd be one of the top three teams in baseball." We're not sure about that, but we are sure that the Twins and Tigers played the best single game we saw all last season. Their first meeting since comes this week, in Twins at Tigers, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Comerica Park . Justin Verlander, who finished third in last year's Cy Young voting, faces Francisco Liriano, who is off to the kind of start that could get him into this year's Cy race.

2. Not everyone predicted that the Twins would be this good. Believe it or not, someone (that would be me) picked the White Sox to win the AL Central. Hey, it still could happen, especially if the White Sox keep up this weekend's one game-winning homer a day pace -- or if Jake Peavy (7.66) and Gavin Floyd (8.38) recover to have two of the best ERAs in the AL, instead of two of the worst. Peavy, Floyd and the Sox get another chance this week, with Peavy starting in White Sox at Rangers, Wednesday night (8:05 EDT) at Rangers Ballpark .

3. It's not Halladay vs. Lincecum, as we hoped for. But it is Lincecum against the two-time NL champs, and we'll take that. Over the last two years, Lincecum's ERA against the Phillies: 1.24. The Phillies' run total in the other 338 (regular-season) games they played: 5.07. Lincecum starts against Cole Hamels, in Phillies at Giants, Wednesday afternoon (3:45 EDT) at AT&T Park .


Posted on: April 5, 2010 5:41 pm
 

Make no mistake, it's Buehrle

Remember what Mark Buehrle said when the White Sox picked him to start instead of Jake Peavy on opening day?

"They're making a mistake," Buehrle said then.

Some mistake. Buehrle pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, in the White Sox's 6-0 win over the Indians today.

Maybe Buehrle isn't what most people think of as a dominating ace. But he is 136-97 in his career with the White Sox. He's one of just three major-league pitchers to work 2,000 innings over the last 10 years (Javier Vazquez and Livan Hernandez are the others).

In any case, Peavy suggested to pitching coach Don Cooper that Buehrle should start the opener, his team-record eighth opening day start. Manager Ozzie Guillen agreed.

And, it turned out, it was no mistake.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 9, 2010 7:04 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:06 pm
 

Goodbye Cactus, Hello Grapefruit

ORLANDO -- I've traded Aroldis Chapman for Stephen Strasburg, Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay, Angel Guzman for Joe Nathan, Los Sombreros in Scottsdale for Frenchy's in Clearwater, cactus for grapefruit.

After three weeks checking out the 15 teams in Arizona, I've checked out of Phoenix and touched down in Florida (and colleague Scott Miller has left Florida for the desert).

A few sights, thoughts and observations from half of spring training with half the teams:

-- Best story: It doesn't get much better than Chapman, whose name comes up in almost every Cactus League ballpark, whether the Reds are there or not. The other day in Mesa, scouts were debating whether he'd have signed for the same money if he was Dominican rather than Cuban. The consensus: Yes, he would have, because you just don't find left-handed starters who throw 100 mph.

-- Best team: The White Sox, whose road to an American League Central title got a little easier with today's news about Twins closer Joe Nathan. Other impressive teams: The Rockies, the Mariners and the Angels.

-- Worst team: The Indians, even though prospects Carlos Santana ("another Victor Martinez") and Lonnie Chisenhall are getting great reviews.

-- Player who looks the most different: With apologies to Andruw Jones and Geovany Soto, it has to be Matt Stairs, barely recognizable after losing 37 pounds. "When you get to Clearwater, tell [Shane] Victorino that I'm smaller than him," Stairs requested. And we will. Oh, and give credit to Jones and Soto, who both seem to have taken conditioning seriously over the winter.

-- Team that has the most fun: Apologies to the Rockies and the Brewers, but it's got to be the Mariners. Just the sight of Felix Hernandez serving as bat boy in the M's intrasquad game (with "BB" taped over the number on his back) was all the proof I needed.

-- Strangest sight: Walking through the abandoned White Sox clubhouse building in Tucson for the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton press conference. The Sox moved to Glendale last year, but the doors to the empty clubhouse still have Sox logos on them. Next year, all of Tucson will be a baseball ghost town, but for now, it's just half of Tucson Electric Park.

-- Best quote: A tie between Torii Hunter and Ozzie Guillen. Torii on losing to the Yankees in the playoffs: "I couldn't stand up. All I want now is the ring. Not a gold glove. Not the Hall of Fame. My satisfaction would be winning the World Series. If I get that, I'm passing out on the field." Ozzie on whether Lou Piniella will manage past 2010: "They keep paying you, why go see your family every day? We need people like Lou in this game. Lou is what . . . just 65? I thought he was 78."
 
 
 
 
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