Ramirez hits walk-off in 9th for Sox win

Alexei Ramirez is on fire.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Similar to that of the old Sega Genesis game ‘NBA JAM’ I can hear it now: “He’s on fire!!!” Alexei Ramirez is just that. On Sunday afternoon in a rain soaked day that saw two rain delays for an hour and 15 min before the game began and a 45 min delay in the 4th, Ramirez stole the show. Not even the rain could cool of Ramirez who was 2-for-4 on the day including the game winning 2-run blast in the bottom of the 9th to lead the Sox to a walk-off victory. Earlier in the game, on the first pitch he saw, Ramirez singled to left to extend his hitting streak to ALL 13 games this season.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Then the bottom of the 9th, again on the first pitch he saw, he delivered the knockout blow to Cleveland that would give the Sox a series victory taking 3 out of the 4 games in the series. In fact, Ramirez only saw four pitches in total on the day in four at-bats. He is now hitting .420 on the season, 21-for-50 with 3 homers, 12 RBI’s, four doubles and even three stolen bases.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Sox offense collected nine hits on the day and that was enough for the 4-3 victory. Dayan Viciedo drove in the first run for the Sox in the bottom of the 4th with an infield single to short to tie the game at 1-1. The game was then deadlocked till the bottom of the 8th inning as Corey Kluber and Jose Quintana were matched in a pitching duel. Quintana did very well considering he had to suffer through two rain delays. He threw a season high 121-pitches going a solid six innings, allowing just one run, a solo shot by Michael Brantley in the 4th, on just five hits, walking two and striking out six. This led to yet another no decision for Quintana. The 29th since 2012, which leads all MLB pitchers in that time.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The tie was finally broken in the bottom of the 8th when Marcus Semien hit a rocket blast out of the park and into the seats to put the Sox in front 2-1 at the time. It looked as if Maikel Cleto, who pitched a great two innings in relief of Quintana was going to get his first win.

However, Matt Lindstrom had his second blown save of the season allowing two runs (both unearned) in the top of the 9th to put Cleveland ahead 3-2. The error by Jose Abreu and wild pitch by Lindstrom led to the big inning by the Tribe.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Yet Ramirez came through with the heroics to lead the comeback and give the Sox a 7-6 record to begin tonight’s series with the Boston Red Sox (5-8) at U.S Cellular Field. Not only is today Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball where all players will don the #42, but this marks the first time that Jake Peavy (0-0; 2.13 ERA) returns to Chicago to face the team he played for up until being traded at the deadline last season. Opposing Peavy for the White Sox will be Erik Johnson (0-1; 9.58 ERA) who has struggled a bit in his first two outings this year.

A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate for Boston, a man beloved by all White Sox fans as he played for them from 2005-2012. He has played in Chicago since leaving, returning to U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the Texas Rangers last season. A third former White Sox member, former bullpen coach Juan Nieves from 2008-2012, will return in a Boston uniform. He is now the Red Sox pitching coach.

This will be an interesting game to watch and an interesting series to observe as the White Sox will get to test how good they really are against the defending champs.


Terrible pitching leads to loss

This pitching staff needs some work. Badly.

Last season the Chicago White Sox (6-6) offense and defense was one of the worst in baseball. Despite it’s solid pitching, that led to the demise of 2013. This season it appears to be flipped. The offense has led many statistical categories thus far in 2014. The defense has been better than average. But it has been the pitching, especially that of the bullpen, that is a major concern going forward.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In yesterday’s 12-6 loss to the Indians three pitchers, starter Felipe Paulino, and relievers Scott Downs, Ronald Bellisario and Donnie Veal were terrible and most of them raised their ERA and made me question if they even belong here with the major league club. Paulino has been horrendous in all three starts this season. He is 0-1 with a 7.98 ERA allowing 14 runs (13 earned) in a measly 14 2/3 innings. He’s a starting pitcher! He holds highs for the team thus far in hits allowed at 22, homers allowed at four, and walks allowed giving out nine free passes to opposing base runners.

Clearly he belongs back in AAA. Give him some work there and call up Dylan Axelrod, Andre Rienzo, Erik Surkamp, or Charlie Leesman. All of those guys have MLB experience and have to be better than Paulino is at the moment. I might even call two of those guys up if Erik Johnson has another bad start, but I am willing to give him a third start like I did Paulino.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Despite giving up six runs on six hits (three homers) in just five innings, the Sox and Indians were tied at 6-6 after five and Paulino was off the hook for the loss. Then came the bullpen. After one good inning from Ronald Bellisario, he was left out there a bit too long as he gave up a single and a walk in the 7th and left the game recording just one out in the frame. Scott Downs would enter the game and walk the one man he faced to load the bases. So much for a “lefty specialist”. Daniel Webb would enter the game, record the second out, but allow a single to Ryan Rayburn that would score two runs (charged to Bellisario) before getting the final out in the frame.

Bellisario now has an ERA of 15.19 and has allowed 9 runs on 10 hits in just 5 1/3 innings while opponents are hitting a robust .417 against him. Downs, even though he was not charged with a run yesterday has an ERA of 16.20 allowing 3 runs on three hits, walking four and striking out just one in 1 2/3 innings thus far. Opponents are hitting .429 against him.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Donnie Veal entered the game in the 8th and although he walked a batter, he was able to record the final two outs of the frame. The 9th inning was not so kind however. After recording the first out, he walked Michael Brantley, allowed a double to Asdrubal Cabrera, intentionally walked Ryan Rayburn and a 3-run triple to Ryan Murphy and an RBI single to Mike Aviles before striking out the final two batters to end the inning. This was Veal’s first really bad outing of the year, but it spiked his ERA to 9.00 and that is unacceptable. He has also walked six batters in his slim five innings of work and that is a huge problem.

There has to be someone better in David Purcey, Zach Putnam or anyone of the men already listed above that are starting in AAA that could begin in the pen here that are much better than what the Sox have in the pen now. If it doesn’t get fixed now, it is going to be another long year like last year, just in a different way.

Today the White Sox desperately need a good outing from starter Jose Quintana (1-0; 2.77 ERA) to give relief to a taxed bullpen. The Sox will look for a series victory over the Tribe with a win today, a team that defeated them 17 out of 19 times last season. Quintana will be up against Corey Kluber (1-1; 7.71 ERA).


Contributions all around propels White Sox to victory

Jose Abreu was the star on Thursday night. Last night it was his teammates that helped he and the Chicago White Sox (6-5) get another victory over the Cleveland Indians (5-6). Everyone in the White Sox starting lineup, except for Abreu and Dayan Viciedo, had a hit last night in the Sox 11 hit effort. It was great to see the Sox get contributions up and down the lineup leading to a 9-6 victory.

On a night where the White Sox starter Chris Sale did not have his best stuff, the offense came through for him giving him his 3rd victory on the season. Sale pitched just five innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking two and striking out five in a 105 pitch effort. Sometimes you’ll have nights like this even if you are an ace pitcher like Sale. Cleveland seems to be that team for Sale. But unlike last season, Sale was able to get a victory against the Tribe.

Helping Sale get a victory was Conor Gillaspie who led the White Sox attack going 2-for-3 with a walk in his first at bat, a sacrifice-fly in his 2nd appearance, an RBI single in his 3rd appearance in the 5th that gave the Sox the lead, a 2-run double in the 6th, and then a productive ground out to 1st base moving runners to 2nd and 3rd (that eventually led to another run) in the 8th.

The Sox were up 3-0 early when Adam Eaton doubled to right in the 3rd to put the Sox up 1-0 before Gillaspie’s sacrifice-fly added another run in the inning. Alejandro De Aza added an RBI single in the 4th to give the Sox the 3-0 lead.

Sale had been able to get out of some jams to that point until he gave up three runs in the 5th. But the Sox came right back and took the lead with Gillaspie’s RBI single and Dayan Viciedo’s bases loaded walk to put them ahead 5-3.

The Indians scored a run on an error by Gillaspie in the 6th, but for everytime the Indians scored, the Sox had an answer. Gillaspie made up for the error with a two run double to put the Sox ahead 7-4 in the 6th. After the Indians scored a run in the 7th, Alexei Ramirez delivered with an RBI single in the 7th. Ramirez extended his 11 game hitting streak to begin the season earlier in the game. He has now hit safely in every game thus far and is hitting .429 on the season.

Although Jose Abreu didn’t have a hit last night, his presence was felt as he was intentionally walked to load the bases in the 8th to get to Adam Dunn. Dunn drew the walk to bring home yet another run in the 8th. Dunn also had two hits on the night. Abreu had hit the ball hard a few times earlier in the night and the Indians wanted no part of him. This will pay off huge as the year goes on if he strikes that much fear into the opposing team.

Also contributing offensively was Adam Eaton with two hits, an RBI, and three runs scored. Marcus Semien had a hit and scored twice. And Tyler Flowers had a hit and scored a run.

Today, the Sox will look for a rare series win against the Indians as Felipe Paulino (0-1; 6.52 ERA) will take on Justin Masterson (0-0; 4.22 ERA). Paulino has struggled in his two starts this season. He will look to correct that while getting some needed runs support. Meanwhile, Masterson is the ace of Cleveland’s staff. Against the Sox last season Masterson was brilliant with a 4-0 record and a 0.83 ERA. He is 8-5 with a solid 2.22 ERA against them lifetime. Yet this is clearly a different lineup than last season. If the Sox can get to Masterson early they will have a good shot to win as the Indians bullpen has struggled with a 7.04 ERA in the two games in this series thus far. The game begins at 2:10pm ET.

Abreu helps White Sox snap losing streak to Indians

The Chicago White Sox (5-5) are very thankful to have 2013 behind them. It was one of the worst seasons in franchise history. A big part of that was the staggering amount of losses they suffered at the hands of the Cleveland Indians (5-5). Last season they lost 17 out of 19 games to the Tribe including a horrific 14 straight games dating back to last season. The Indians outscored them 118-57 last year.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

However, 2014 is a new season with some new faces for both teams. One of those faces is the future face of the Chicago White Sox franchise, Jose Abreu. And last night Abreu came through in a big way going 2-for-4 with two homers and 3 RBI. Right now the rookie Cuban slugger leads the American League in homers (4), trailing only Pedro Alvarez, Brandon Belt and Mark Trumbo of the National League who each have 5 and are tied for the MLB lead. He does lead all of baseball with 14 RBI. He is also hitting 12-for-40 on the season, a .300 batting average, with 3 doubles, one triple and seven runs scored.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Another new face, speedy leadoff man Adam Eaton had two hits, scored a run and drove in one. He is hitting .310 on the season. And although not a new face, Alexei Ramirez has hit safely in every game this season getting two more hits last night and driving in three runs. He is batting a stellar .421 thus far, 8th overall in baseball.

In fact, going after last nights game the Sox had the top batting average in the AL at .287, were 1st in runs scored (61) in all of baseball had the most hits in the AL with 102, and are 1st in slugging (.472), on-base percentage (.348) and OPS (.820) in the American League.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Those seven runs those three men drove in were enough to beat Cleveland by a final of 7-3. The Indians led 3-1 early as it took John Danks awhile to find his command, but once he did he settled in throwing six solid innings, allowing three runs (none after the 3rd), on six hits, walking two and striking out four.

Daniel Webb threw two shutout innings out of the pen allowing just no hits and striking out two and Matt Lindstrom threw a scoreless 9th to end the game.

It was a beautiful game all around. Hopefully tonight is some of the same. The game begins at 8:10pm ET Chris Sale (2-0; 1.76 ERA) will face off against Carlos Carrasco (0-1; 6.35 ERA). Sale has been Cy Young worthy through his first two starts but has had his issues against Cleveland going 0-4 with a 8.61 ERA last season.


Garcia to have season-ending surgery

White Sox fans worst fears with yesterday’s shoulder injury to outfielder Avisail Garcia have come true.

Garcia will undergo season ending surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Today he was placed on the 15-day DL but will have surgery next week. The VERY SMALL silver lining here is that the White Sox have outfield depth. They decided not to trade either Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza in the off-season for this reason. Now the Sox are able to call up Jordan Danks to replace Garcia. Danks had a solid spring training hitting .333 with a team-best five homers and 10 RBIs and many were calling for him to make the roster out of spring training and trading De Aza or Viciedo for some more pieces. I am certainly glad that didn’t occur now.

However, this is a big loss. Garcia was batting .267 with two homers, four RBIs and six runs in eight games this season. In 50 career games with the Sox Garcia was doing very well, hitting .298 (57-for-191) with seven home runs and 25 RBIs.

Tonight Jordan will be on the bench while his brother, John, takes the hill against the Cleveland Indians and will try to snap the Indians 14-game win streak against the White Sox dating back to last season.


These injuries may hurt

In yesterday’s 10-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Chicago White Sox (4-5) suffered some major injuries. Already having Jeff Keppinger and Gordon Beckham on the DL, two more players went down with injuries yesterday. Ronald Bellisario left the game with stiffness in his lower back as he was responsible for surrendering 5 runs on five hits in 1/3 of an inning in the 8th. The game was tied at 4-4 when the frame began and by the end of it, the Sox had used three pitchers and were down 10-4.

Garcia hurt
(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The other injury occurred in the bottom of the 6th when Avisail Garcia left the game with an injured shoulder. Garcia was trying to make a diving catch on a ball hit by DJ LeMahieu to end the inning. The Sox were ahead 4-3 at the time and Garcia gave his best effort but came up just short in making the catch. On the replay, Garcia actually did make the catch, but when he landed and rolled over on his shoulder, he lost the ball due to the pain he was in on the play.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Those injuries could loom huge for the White Sox. The good news is that Bellisario has said that he is just stiff and will be fine and preliminary X-rays for a fracture, separation or dislocation of his left shoulder were negative for Garcia.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

As for the rest of the game Erik Johnson struggled yet again giving up four runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out four through 5 2/3 innings. He struggled early and often as the Rockies scored a run in the first three innings and then another in the 6th on the Garcia injury.

The White Sox had the lead at one point at 2-1 with Tyler Flowers RBI single and Adam Eaton’s infield single to third in the 2nd inning. After the Rockies took back the lead, the Sox once again rallied with a 2-out RBI single to center by Conor Gillaspie in the 5th to take the lead 4-3 yet they were unable to hold on.

The main concern at this point is for the team to get healthy.

Tonight at 8:10pm ET the White Sox will begin a 4-game set with the Cleveland Indians (5-4) at home. It is part of an 7-game home stand over the next 8 days that also sees the defending champion Boston Red Sox come to town. John Danks (0-0; 3.86 ERA) will take on Danny Salazar (0-0; 3.18 ERA) in the first game of this set tonight.


White Sox six homers propel them to a huge win

Last night the Chicago White Sox (4-4) certainly made sure that they would get a victory as they scored 15 runs on 19 hits and also drew 5 walks in their offensive explosion. The runs scored were highlighted by a team high six homers, their most since 2009 against the Dodgers. They fell just one short of the team record of 7 homers in a game, set in 1955.

Abreu (3)
(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Rookie Jose Abreu led the charge with two homers, Avisail Garcia also added two of his own and Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez also went deep on the night. Abreu hit his first two homers of his career as he hit a 3-run blast in an amazing 12-pitch at bat to break the game open at the time as he gave the White Sox the 7-2 lead in the 7th. He added a 2-run shot in the 8th giving him 5 RBI’s on the night. Can you say rookie of the year? I hope so.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Avisail Garcia went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s. He had a solo shot in the 2nd inning to put the Sox up 1-0, added another solo blast in the 8th, and finished the inning with an RBI single as 11 men batted in the inning. For the remainder of the homers Tyler Flowers two run blast in the 2nd gave the Sox a 3-0 lead at the time. And lastly, Alexei Ramirez contributed to the homer parade with a solo blast in the 8th.

Adam Eaton had 2 hits, Marcus Semien went 4-for-5 with 2 RBI’s, Abreu added his two blasts, Dayan Viciedo went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI’s, Conor Gillaspie added a hit, Avisail Garcia added four hits (2 homers), Alexei Ramirez had 2 hits, and Tyler Flowers added 2 hits.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Sox have scored as many runs in eight games this season as they did in 15 games last season. That is a great sign. Especially for guys like Jose Quintana. Quintana leads all MLB pitchers with 28 no decisions going back to 2012. But hopefully that will be less this year with an offense that can score. Lost in the shuffle of all the hitting last night was seven great innings by Quintana. He allowed just two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four to get the win.

The Sox will play a day game today at 3:10pm ET and try to get a series victory as Erik Johnson (0-1; 13.50 ERA) will look to bounce back from a terrible outing in his last start. He will face off against Juan Nicasio (1-0; 1.29 ERA) who did great in his first start.


Paulino “rocked” by Rockies

Last night’s series opener in Colorado did not go as hoped for Felipe Paulino and the Chicago White Sox. I watched the game this morning on my MLB.TV subscription as I am home sick with the flu. By the end of the 5th inning, Paulino was out of the game and the Sox were behind 6-0. Paulino lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on 9 hits, walking four and striking out two batters while throwing 99 pitches. He had no control of his pitches and the Rockies were sitting and waiting for his fastball and taking advantage of it.

Paulino was at one time a Colorado Rockies last season, and in his career he now holds a 8.34 ERA in Colorado. No wonder they got rid of him.

Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles was dominating the Sox offense. Chicago didn’t have a hit until the 4th inning when Marcus Semien singled to left with one out in the frame. Lyles threw 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run on five hits, walking two and striking out four. The only run he allowed was on a two out double by Alexei Ramirez in the 7th that scored Conor Gillaspie.

The Sox lost by a final of 8-1 giving them a 3-4 record on the season thus far. I hope tonight is better.


Sale is victorious in pitching duel

Yesterday afternoon Chris Sale showed why he is considered one of the better, if not the best, left-handed pitchers in the game today.

Chris Sale
(Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

He was able to dominate the Kansas City Royals to lead his team to a 5-1 victory. With the win, the Chicago White Sox moved back to .500 on the year with a 3-3 record. Sale allowed no runs on just four hits, walking one and striking out six through eight innings on the mound.

(John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

Kansas City also had their ace pitcher on the mound in James Shields, but it was not enough to outperform Sale on this day. Shields pitched admirably, allowing just one run on five hits, walking none and striking out six through seven innings. It was a fantastic pitchers duel to say the least.

The first run that crossed the plate did not occur till the 7th inning when Conor Gillaspie hit a one out double to right field, was moved to third on a ground out by Avisail Garcia and then came in to score on a RBI single to short on a ball that barely left the infield.

That was enough for Sale. Although his team did push across four more runs in the top of the 9th. Adam Dunn led off the frame with a single and then was replaced by pinch runner Leury Garcia. Dayan Viciedo drew a walk and after Conor Gillaspie popped up a bunt trying to advance the runners for the first out, they would advance anyway on a wild throw by catcher Salvador Perez that would allow Garcia to score. Alejandro De Aza would come in to run for Viciedo at 2nd base and Avisail Garcia would draw a walk as pitcher Tim Collins would finally be pulled. Francisley Bueno would enter the game on the mound for KC and allow a double down the 3rd base line to Alexei Ramirez that would put the Sox ahead 3-0. Tyler Flowers would then follow with a single to center that would score two more runs before the frame would eventually come to an end.

Matt Lindstrom would enter the game in a non-save situation although manager Robin Ventura said after the game if the Sox had not scored all those runs in the 9th, Sale would have come back out to complete the game. Lindstrom did struggle a bit allowing one run on three hits, but was able to get Salvador Perez to ground out into a game ending double play for the 5-1 victory.

Tonight the Chicago White Sox (3-3) will begin a series against the Colorado Rockies (3-4) in Colorado. Felipe Paulino (0-0; 1.69 ERA) will take on Jordan Lyles (1-0; 7.20 ERA). The game will begin at 8:40pm ET. On Tuesday night at the same time, Jose Quintana (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will take on Franklin Morales (0-0; 5.06 ERA) and on Wednesday at 3:10pm ET Erik Jonhnson (0-1; 13.50 ERA) will take on Juan Nicasio (1-0; 1.29 ERA to close out the series.


Costly managing mistake costs Sox

Last season many fans blamed the losses that the Sox had, 99 of them, on manager Robin Ventura. And although the manager does hold some fault, I always felt that it was the play of the players that cost the Sox almost all of their losses last year. They made too many errors and could not hit or even run the basepaths for me to blame that on Ventura, a guy who never played.

Oakland Athletics v Chicago White Sox
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

However, in the Sox 4-3 loss to Kansas City yesterday I felt that Ventura made a big mistake late in the 8th inning that cost the White Sox.

Early on the Sox were behind Bruce “Cy” Chen and Kansas City 3-1. Chen dominated the Sox in this start as he threw 6 1/3 innings allowing just one run (unearned) on six hits, struck out seven and walked none. Typical Cy Chen as Hawk Harrelson would attest to. He always seems to dominate us. All six hits were singles. It was not until the 5th inning with Alexei Ramirez on first, Adrian Nieto would reach on a fielding error by 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas that allowed Nieto to move to 2nd and Ramirez to move to 3rd base. Adam Eaton would then ground out to 2nd, allowing Ramirez to score the unearned run.

John Danks pitched very well. He had just one bad inning and that was in the bottom of the 4th when he allowed his first hit. Omar Infante singled to left to start the inning off for Kansas City’s first hit of the ballgame. That was followed by an Eric Hosmer single that moved Infante to third. Billy Butler then drove home Infante for the games first run. Alex Gordon then singled to center but the Sox were able to get Hosmer caught in a rundown at home plate, which was executed far better than the disaster of a rundown the other day. After that however Danks would walk Salvador Perez to load the bases and then walk Mike Moustakas to give KC a 2-0 lead before finally striking out Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar to end the frame.

Danks would also allow a sacrifice-fly to Billy Butler in the 5th to give KC the 3-1 lead. On the day Danks allowed three runs on five hits, walking four and striking out six over seven innings.

In the 8th, down 3-1 with Wade Davis in the game pitching for Kansas City, the Sox made their comeback. Marcus Semien led off the inning with a single to left, Jose Abreu was then hit by a pitch and Dayan Viciedo drew a walk to load the bases. After a coaching visit to the mound, Conor Gillaspie would single to center to to cut the lead to 3-2. Paul Konerko would then hit a sacrafice-fly to right field to tie the game at 3-3. Sadly that was all the more damage the Sox could do.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals
(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

In the bottom of the 8th with two outs was when Ventura made his mistake. Scott Downs was in the game and the Sox were one out away from ending the frame. After an Alex Gordon double, Ventura decided to replace Downs with Maikel Cleto to face Salvador Perez. Perez a switch hitter and could have easily been walked with an open base. Then you could have had Downs face Mike Moustakas who was 0-14 on the season thus far, yet to have a hit. Ventura gambled and lost as Perez doubled to left for what ended up being the winning run as the Sox fell 4-3. In my opinion it could have been an avoided mistake by Ventura. I blame this one on him.

Today the Sox (2-3) will try to snap this two game skid as they finish their 3-game set against the Royals (2-2). Chris Sale (1-0; 3.68 ERA) will take the hill in a good pitching matchup against James Shields (0-0; 4.26 ERA).



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