Game 5: The unbeaten streak continues
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Sure, it’s only Cactus League play, with individuals making major contributions who won’t be part of the Opening Day roster against pitchers who have the same slim chance. But after posting an 8-4 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday at Camelback Ranch, the White Sox are much happier to be unbeaten instead of winless.
“You like the way it is. It doesn’t matter which guys are playing on which day. Even though you mix it up, they kind of keep that flow going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “And we’re pitching well too.
“For the most part, we’re getting guys going out there and limiting things and playing defense. Guys are going up swinging the bat, being aggressive.”
Here’s a deeper look at Wednesday’s victory.
HOME RUN: As hitting coach Jeff Manto and left fielder Dayan Viciedo told MLB.com, Viciedo’s new leg kick as part of his swing will be a work in progress. Ventura agrees, although he liked the two hits Viciedo knocked out on Wednesday.
“I don’t expect him to get it right away. But I think the timing of it and the things he was having problems with last year, it’ll help that,” said Ventura of Viciedo. “Just balance and seeing pitches. I think last year he got into a mode of he was swinging no matter what.
“The leg kick gives you a little more balance of pushing you back and getting recognition and going after it. It is a work in progress but I think having thrown BP to him and watching him, you see little steps that he has taken. It’s working with two strikes.”
TRIPLE: This much is certain through the early part of Spring Training: Keenyn Walker can run. He tripled among his two hits Wednesday, basically gliding around the bases.
DOUBLE: Let’s put Conor Gillaspie in this spot, since a double is the only hit he’s missing from reaching the cycle over his last two games. Gillaspie went deep off of Collin Balester in the sixth inning, adding to his triple and single from Tuesday. He has six RBIs in two games.
SINGLE: Jeff Keppinger doubled, walked and scored two runs after replacing Adam Dunn at designated hitter. Although he has not yet played the field, Keppinger’s hitting has not suffered from a sore right shoulder. Steve Tolleson had two hits, including a double, and Ramon Troncoso threw two scoreless innings in relief.
STOLEN BASE: No, Paul Konerko doesn’t get many of these. But his home run in the fifth inning against Robbie Ross was his 18th in Cactus League action since 2006.
CALLED THIRD: Simon Castro followed Nestor Molina’s lead on Tuesday, allowing one hit and one walk over three innings.
“I feel good right now with my mechanics and everything we do,” Castro said.
“You’re looking at maturity and just being able to compete at a different level,” said Ventura of Castro. “This year I think he has command and the confidence that comes with being another year into it and control.”
JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: It was a good news, bad news sort of afternoon for veteran reliever Jeff Gray. The good news was that he struck out the side in the sixth. The bad news is he also allowed three runs in the frame.