Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’

Game 5: Sale’s high standard

Round 1 goes to the Cubs, who claimed a 5-1 victory over the White Sox before 10,327 at Camelback Ranch on Friday. There will be seven more chances for the White Sox to get even, but here’s a look at the highs and lows of this first battle.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: If Chris Sale gets this charged up over his first Cactus League start, one can only imagine the energy he’ll bring to the rotation during the 2012 regular season. The raw stuff is there for Sale, probably the best raw stuff on the White Sox staff.

Like any other pitcher, he’s working on location and building up arm strength as the regular season fast approaches. The endurance is especially important for Sale, who is moving from late-inning relief to the starting five.

And his anger over the two-out, nobody-on walk issued to Junior Lake in the second, which was followed by Edgar Gonzalez’s two-run home run, is reminiscent of the same high personal standard for no free passes held by new staff ace John Danks. Sale felt as if he’s figuring out his pregame routine as a starter, but wasn’t making excuses even in his Spring Training debut.

“It was what it was. You’re still working out kinks, but there’s no excuse at all,” Sale said. “You still got to pitch. But you’re still finding some things out and figuring some things out along the way. But at the end of the day, you still got to be better than that.”

Alejandro De Aza laid down a perfect bunt single in the first, while A.J. Pierzynski, back hitting in the two-hole, moved De Aza to third with a single to left in the first and sacrificed over two runners in the third. Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, both strongly in the closer’s mix, each pitched a scoreless frame.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Nate Jones, who pitched two scoreless innings during his Cactus League debut, gave up a Marlon Byrd homer in the sixth and a Steve Clevenger home run in the seventh. The White Sox also failed to score with the bases loaded and out in the third against Travis Wood and Randy Wells.

WHAT’S NEXT: It’s a rare doubleheader for the White Sox on Saturday, with both games taking place at Camelback Ranch. Dylan Axelrod gets the start in Game 1 against the Rangers, which will be an exclusive whitesox.com webcast starting at 2:05 p.m. CT, and Philip Humber starts the nightcap against the Dodgers at 8:05 p.m. CT. Brent Lillibridge will be leading off and playing second base against the Rangers in the early game.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Adrian Cardenas’ ninth-inning pop out to shortstop Ray Olmedo, as it completed two scoreless innings of relief for Nestor Molina. It was a tough first outing for Molina on Monday, allowing five runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 innings, but the right-hander gave up one hit and struck out two on Friday.

“You can hear him talk and doing things, taking charge, which is nice,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Molina. “To have that first outing and come back, with that impressive performance, it catches your eye.”

MOMENT TO FORGET: Sale’s 0-2 pitch to Gonzalez in the second. It got too much of the plate.

Crosstown Showdown, U.S. Cellular version: Day 2

Here are a few additional tidbits from another in the long line of battles between the Cubs and White Sox, covering 13 years. When Interleague Play was invented, I have to believe this is the sort of crowd-pleasing rivalry Major League Baseball had in mind.

–In a day filled with White Sox miscues, one of the strangest ones came on a Mark Buehrle balk in the fifth inning. Alfonso Soriano opened with a bloop single to right and Ryan Theriot drew a walk. Both runners moved up a base when Buehrle went to throw over to first base but Paul Konerko was not near the base. So, Buehrle didn’t go through with the throw, which isn’t allowed while he’s still on the rubber.

The veteran southpaw took full responsibility for this particular mistake.

“I screwed up. It was totally my fault. Not Konerko, (bench coach) Joey (Cora) or (catcher) A.J. (Pierzynski),” Buehrle said. “I was thinking it was a timing play when A.J. gave me the sign. Then, instead of stepping off, I threw it.”

Buehrle believes the balk actually helped the White Sox stay out of a big inning. Milton Bradley’s ensuing line out might not have ended up with shortstop Alexei Ramirez if the middle infield was playing double-play depth with runners on first and second.

As for Buehrle’s effort on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, he said that he felt great.

“Obviously, I lost something in that last inning,” said Buehrle, who has a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts at home. “But overall, I felt pretty good.”

–Both manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams have talked about the Cubs-White Sox series being the biggest one either team is going to play if they don’t make the playoffs. The two teams aren’t exactly juggernauts at this point, but the Cubs sit just 3 games out in the National League Central and the White Sox now are just 5 back in the AL Central.

So, Buehrle certainly isn’t ready to pronounce these five games, with one postponement to be made up in September, as the highlight of the season.

“Well, I don’t want to sit there and think that now,” Buehrle said. “There are still two or three months left in the season. I’m not thinking that right now. I just want to go out there and try to win games to get to the playoffs.”

–The scariest moment for Gordon Beckham on Saturday was not hitting in the ninth inning against Cubs reliever Jose Ascanio, with the game on the line. It was seeing Jim Thome and A.J. Pierzynski coming at him at full speed, as the celebration began after his game-winning hit.

“When you see Thome is at full sprint, you know something is up,” said Beckham with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun.”

“Good, good. Just so he remembers that,” Thome said. “No, we were having a little fun with him. It was good.”

–Best guesses for the White Sox All-Star candidates would be Buehrle, reliever Matt Thornton or right fielder Jermaine Dye. But it’s hard to overlook Scott Podsednik, who has been as important to this team staying afloat as anyone on the roster.

–The White Sox are 10-6 in Interleague Play, with two games remaining. Bobby Jenks earned his first career Interleague win on Saturday.

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