Tagged: Cubs

Opening Night

Spring Training baseball is now over and the regular season is ready to kick off tonight with a game between NL Central rivals the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.


Tomorrow is Opening Day for all the other 28 teams in MLB which includes the beginning of the season for my beloved Chicago White Sox who will open the season ay 4:10pm ET in Kansas City against the Royals.  Jeff Samardzija will be the Opening Day starter with Chris Sale beginning the season on the DL.  Not much has happened over the last few months as far as roster activity other than some players being sent back to the minors.  The lineup is set as follows:

Opening Day lineup

Samardzija’s opposition on the mound will be Yordano Ventura who will now carry a lot of the load with former ace James Shields now in San Diego.  The current AL Champions will have a much tougher time getting back to the World Series, let alone out of their own division with their opponents making a lot of off-season moves one of those teams being the White Sox.

Chicago’s 25-man roster is as follows right now:

SP: Chris Sale (Set to return April 12th), Jeff Samardzjia, Jose Quintana, John Danks, and Hector Noesi

RP Zack Duke (LHP), Dan Jennings (LHP), Eric Surkamp (LHP) Zach Putnam (RHP), Jake Petricka (RHP beginning season on DL), Javy Guerra (RHP) Kyle Drabek (RHP) Matt Albers (RHP) and David Robertson (Closer).

Catchers:  Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto

1B/DH:  Jose Abreu (1B) and Adam LaRoche (DH)

IF: Micah Johnson (2B), Emilio Bonifacio (2B/3B/SS), Carlos Sanchez (2B/SS), Gordon Beckham(3B/SS), Alexei Ramirez (SS) and Conor Gillaspie (3B)

OF:  Adam Eaton (CF), Melky Cabrera (LF), Avisail Garcia (RF) and J.B. Shuck (OF)

That’s 28 players with Sale and Petricka beginning the season on the DL.  That means that as of right now the Sox have 26 players and need to get down to 25 today.  Most likely it wll be Drabek and Surkamp going for the last spot.  The Sox only have 4 starters, although Drabek could be penciled in for a start if needed and that is why I think he may make the team over Surkamp.  Outside of that, I do like the lineup and depth the Sox have this season.  It’s going to be a great year.

Let’s go White Sox!!!

I love baseball

I absolutely adore the game of baseball. There is something that draws me in every time. It can be different concept on a particular night that draws me to watch a game, although sometimes I just want to see the team I root for and follow to a religious extent, the Chicago White Sox. However, yesterday was one of those days I found myself watching more than one game on my MLB.TV subscription.

I only had to work a 1/2 day yesterday so I came home at noon. After eating lunch and making sure that my roommate and I had a new garage door properly installed the house, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs were playing at 2:20pm ET that afternoon. I know, I am talking about the rival Cubs on a White Sox blog, but what can I say, I love baseball.

The pitching match-up was really intriguing to me too. Kyle Lohse and Jeff Samardzjia had both been pitching fantastic to begin the year so I tuned in. The Cubs gave Samardzjia no help as they committed three errors leading to four runs, two of which were unearned runs, in the first two innings. The Cubs tried to rally, but fell 4-3. It was interesting game to watch on what appeared to be a super chilly day at Wrigley. I really was not rooting for one team or the other as I despise both teams. I just like baseball.

(Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle)

I was planning on watching some of the Tigers vs Red Sox which began at 7pm ET but that did not happen. I did however turn my attention to the Chicago White Sox who were beginning a 3-game set last night in Houston at 8:10pm ET. And let me just state right from the start that I think Minute Maid Park in Houston is a beautiful ballpark. Yes it has a roof, but the grass field and the backdrop of the city of Houston as it’s setting make it a glorious sight to see. I would love to go there in person sometime. It’s on my bucket list.

(Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

As for the game, I was amazed by the young pitcher for the Astros Collin McHugh. His breaking ball was dropping off the table early and often and it looked like the White Sox had no chance in this one. Thorough the first five innings McHugh had allowed no runs on just one hit, three walks and six strikeouts. Meanwhile, Jose Quintana was battling for the Sox, but he had allowed two runs in the bottom of the 5th and the Sox were trailing 2-0.

(Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Never forget though, a baseball game can turn at any moment. It did just that for the White Sox in the 6th inning. After Gordon Beckham had struck out, Conor Gillaspie drew a walk and then Jose Abreu was hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count. That unlocked the door. Rather than open it, Adam Dunn knocked it over. On a 2-0 fastball he crushed the ball into the 2nd deck of the right field seats to put the White Sox ahead 3-2 that quickly. Dunn now has six homers on the season and 446 for his career which has him at 38th on the all-time home run list.

After a rocket double off the wall on the first pitch he saw, Dayan Viciedo stood at second and McHugh was exiting the game. The game turned so fast it was a shock. But God, did I love it!!! Alexei Ramirez would move Viciedo to third on a productive ground ball out to first base. And after an intentional walk to Alejandro De Aza, Tyler Flowers would single to right to give the Sox a 4-2 lead. Moises Sierra would walk to load the bases but Gordon Beckham would ground into a force out at second to end the frame. Yet the damage was done.

(Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Sox bullpen would take over for Quintana whom now had a chance to get the win. He allowed two runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out four. He would end up getting the win as well as the bullpen of Jake Petricka, Zack Putnam, Ronald Bellisario and Frank Francisco would combine to each throw a shutout inning over the final four innings of the game. They would allow two hits and walk two, yet combine to strike out five batters over the final four innings for the win.

(Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The White Sox would add three more runs in the 8th inning to put the game out of reach. With two outs, Gordon Beckham drove home Alejandro De Aza with an RBI single to left who reached on an error. Beckham and also Tyler Flowers, who drew a walk near the start of the inning, were both able to score on a Conor Gillaspie 2-run double. The 7-2 win ended up being a convincing one.

The win gives the chance for the White Sox to get back to .500 with a win this afternoon. Hector Noesi (0-2; 4.50 ERA) will take on Jarred Cosart (2-3; 4.30 ERA). The game begins at 4:10pm ET on WGN. Noesi is in a battle with Andre Rienzo and Scott Carroll for a spot in this rotation. Chris Sale will be back soon, but their may be two open spots as Felipe Paulino is still on the DL and was terrible to begin the season. Erik Johnson was bad too and thus was sent back to AAA Charlotte, although he could return to the majors soon.


Carroll struggles in finale against Cubs

Beating a team 3 times in a row is very difficult to do in baseball. Beating them four straight, well, you get the point.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Scott Carroll had a rough outing last night as he gave up six runs on 11 hits, walking two and striking out two in just over four innings of work. Two of Carroll’s hits surrendered were homers.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

With the White Sox ahead 2-0 in the 3rd thanks to a RBI single by Moises Sierra and a RBI groundout by Tyler Flowers Carroll surrendered an RBI single to Luis Valbuena and then a two run homer to Mike Rizzo that put the Cubs ahead. Carroll would also walk Junior Lake with the bases loaded before the inning was over to put the Cubs ahead 4-2. The last homer Carroll would give up on the night was a 2-run homer to Starlin Castro in the 4th.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The White Sox cut the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the 4th with RBI singles from Tyler Flowers and the returning Conor Gillaspie, yet that was all the closer they could get on the night.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Scott Downs threw two shutout innings and Maikel Cleto threw a scoreless 7th before surrendering 5 runs in 8th. One run was surrendered as Cleto hit Wellington Castillo with the bases loaded and then four given up on a two out grand slam by Mike Olt.

The final would be 12-5 as the Cubs would add another run off Jake Petricka in the 9th and the White Sox would add another run off an RBI single by Dayan Viciedo before the game would come to a close.

With the loss the Sox record falls to 18-18 on the season. Tonight the White Sox will begin a 3-game series at home with the Arizona Diamondbacks (13-24). The Diamondbacks are on a bit of a roll winning four out of their last six games after a terrible start. Brandon McCarthy (1-5; 4.67 ERA), a former White Sox starter, will try to do better than he has done lately as he takes on Andre Rienzo (2-0; 4.50 ERA).

It will not only be a reunion of sorts for McCarthy, but also for White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton. Although Eaton will not play as he is still on the DL. Eaton was acquired in a three team deal with the Diamondbacks in December of last year as Hector Santiago was sent to the Los Angeles Angels and Mark Trumbo was sent to Arizona with Eaton going to Chicago. The White Sox will also get to face off against their former closer Addison Reed who was traded for Matt Davidson who is still in Chicago’s minor league system at this time.

This series does have some story lines with two rebuilding teams. It should be good.


Konerko puts his stamp on rivalry once more

Paul Konerko has played in numerous games against the Chicago Cubs. Some more memorable than others I suppose. The rivalry may not be what it once was early in Konerko’s career, but as he plays out his final season in baseball, he will surely remember last night’s game fondly.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last night in the White Sox 8-3 victory that put the White Sox over .500 on the season at 18-17, Konerko came up with one more big hit against the rival Cubs. With Sox ahead by a slim margin at just 4-3 in the bottom of the 5th, Konerko came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. I could just sense a big moment was about to occur. It was just fitting. On the first pitch he saw in the at-bat, Konerko wasted little time making his mark. On a cutter in on his hands, he sent a rocket down the third base line that stayed fair, hugged the line all the way to the wall and unloaded the bases on a 3-run double to put the White Sox ahead for good. They would go on to score another run in the inning as Konerko himself would score on a Marcus Semien single to left as they would win 8-3.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Sox also received big contributions from Alexei Ramirez who singled home the first run of the game in the 1st and also turned a sparkling double play in the 9th. With Starlin Castro at first and Wellington Castillo at the plate, Castillo hit a pop up that looked as if it was going to fall over the head of Ramirez at short and in front of the outfielders who were charging in on the play. Ramirez not only made the catch, but then was able to turn and fire the baseball to first base, all in one motion, to double off Castro.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It was an absolute thing of beauty that brought me to my feet.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Another play that brought me to my feet was the 3-run homer by Gordon Beckham in the 4th that broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Sox a 4-1 lead at the time.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Despite the fact that John Danks surrendered back some of those runs in the top of the 5th, he pitched very well. He allowed just three runs on four hits, walking one and striking out eight in six innings on the mound.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The bullpen of Jake Petricka who threw two scoreless innings and Maikel Cleto who threw a scoreless 9th held the lead for Danks to get the win.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

But of course last night was all about Konerko who was 2-for-3 with 3 RBI’s, a walk and a run scored. Accolades do matter in baseball because stats are everything in this sport. Yet for Konerko, if he can help his team win, that is all that matters.

Tonight he will try to do the same as the Sox will go for the series sweep of the Crosstown Cup. Scott Carroll (1-1; 0.68 ERA) will try to continue securing a spot in this rotation as he faces off against Jake Arrieta (0-0; 0.00 ERA) who will make his second start of this season. The game begins at 8:10pm ET.


Beckham and Sierra lead Sox to win

Last night was a glorious night. Not only did the Chicago White Sox(17-17) win 5-1 and take both games from the Chicago Cubs (11-20) at Wrigley Field, they were also able to get back to .500 and received contributions from lesser known sources in order to do so. It was beautiful. As a die-hard White Sox fan, their is nothing like beating the Chicago Cubs, even if the games are scheduled in early May and fall during the middle of the week.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Sox starter Hector Noesi made his second consecutive start and did a fine job throwing five solid innings. He allowed just one run on four hits, walked one and struck out six. Noesi arrived in Chicago with a 14.21 ERA and has made three appearances with the White Sox, two of them starts. Although he has no wins to show for it, over 10 innings of work he has lowered his ERA to 8.27 for the season. He has done what he has been asked to do.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Zack Putnam threw two more shut out innings in relief while striking out two batters. The combo of Noesi and Putnam matched the exploits of Edwin Jackson who threw seven solid innings allowing one run on six hits, walking none and striking out nine. The only runs scored through the first seven innings was on a ground ball force out off the bat of Alexei Ramirez in the 4th and an RBI single by Emilio Bonifacio in the 5th to tie the score.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Gordon Beckham and Moises Sierra were locked in. Sierra, acquired of waivers earlier in the week had just two hits in 34 at bats with the Blue Jays in 13 games before coming to Chicago. He went 4-for-4 last night and scored a run.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Gordon Beckham also had four hits, including the biggest one of the game coming in the top of the 8th inning. His 4th hit on the night left the yard to put the White Sox ahead 2-1 with two outs in the 8th.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Scott Downs pitched a shutout inning in the bottom half of the 8th as he struck out two batters while the Sox added three more runs in the 9th on an RBI double by Tyler Flowers and a 2-run double from Jordan Danks. Daniel Webb then threw a scoreless 9th for the win. It is the Sox first 3 game winning streak of the season due in large part to the bullpen finding its way. Over the last 58 2/3 innings covering 10 games, the bullpen has given up just 10 earned runs.

(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

It was also cool to see the Cubs organization in a very classy move, present Paul Konerko with the #14 from the Wrigley field scoreboard before the game began. This being Paulie’s final season in baseball, he deserves to be honored and I applaud the Cubs for doing so.

Tonight at 8:10pm ET the Sox and Cubs will now both travel to U.S. Cellular Field to finish the Crosstown Cup on the South Side of Chicago. John Danks (2-2; 5.00 ERA) will take on Travis Wood (2-3; 3.35 ERA) as the Sox will look to climb above .500 on the season.

For the White Sox to be at .500 right now is fantastic. Especially since they have played 27 of their first 32 games against 2013 playoff teams. Let’s hope they can take advantage of their next few games against teams like the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Astros.


Semien slays Cubs

As I arrived home from a late night of work at about 9:25pm my first thought was to turn on my computer to my MLB.TV subscription to the Cubs/Sox game. I came to realize that Jose Quintana and Jeff Samardzija were locked in a classic pitchers duel. To that point in the bottom of the 5th, Quintana had a perfect game going as he had retired all 12 batters he had seen and Samardzija had surrendered just one run on three hits. I almost considered turning off the computer so as to not jinks Quintana. Alas, I did not.

Quintana walked his first batter, and also his 2nd, with two outs in the 5th but was able to escape the jam. It was not until the bottom of the 6th when Quintana’s no-hitter was broken when he surrendered a double to the pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija was able to help his own cause even more as he move to third on a sacrifice-bunt by Emilio Bonifacio and scored on a sacrifice-fly by Junior Lake to left fielder, Adam Dunn. I will contend that if Dunn was not in left field their might have been a play at the plate, but in this case, there was not and the game was tied at 1-1.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Quintana was taken out of the game for a pinch-hitter in the 8th for Jordan Danks and would once again have a no-decision. It was his 31st since 2012, which leads all of baseball. That is just a staggering stat. He deserved so much better. On the night, Quintana surrendered just the one run on one hit, walking three and striking out three.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Samardzija was dealing as well. He allowed just one unearned run on three hits, walking two and striking out seven over nine innings. He threw a career-high 126 pitches, but yet again remained winless on the season despite an ERA of 1.62 on the season. That is remarkable.

The only run he surrendered was in the first inning. He allowed a lead-off single to Alejandro De Aza and then Mike Olt helped the White Sox cause when he fielded a ball hit by Gordon Beckham to third, yet made a terrible throw to second base trying to get the force at second. The ball went into the outfield as De Aza moved to third. The next batter, Jose Abreu hit a deep fly ball to right that was knocked down by the Wrigley winds and stayed in the park for a sacrifice-fly. It was Abreu’s 35th RBI on the season. That lead’s all of baseball and also is a big reason why he was named AL rookie of the month and AL player of the month for the month of April. That was all the White Sox could get off of Samardzija on the night.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Ronald Bellisario threw two great shutout innings allowing just one hit and striking out two batters to send the game into extra innings. So through nine innings, there had been a total of two runs (one earned) on five hits, five walks and 12 strikeouts.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

For the Cubs Neil Ramirez threw a scoreless top of the 10th and was matched by Jake Petrika of the White Sox who threw a scoreless bottom of the 10th. In the top of the 11th, Brian Schlitter threw a scoreless inning despite giving up a two out single to Gordon Beckham. Scott Downs came in for the White Sox in the bottom of the 11th and retired the first two batters rather easily then gave up a two out single and walk. Daniel Webb came in however and ended the threat by striking out Starlin Castro to end the inning.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Then in the 12th the White Sox finally broke through. After Wesley Wright struck out Adam Dunn and Justin Grimm struck out Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez singled for his 1,000th hit of his career. He then stole 2nd base and Tyler Flowers drew a walk. That brought up Marcus Semien to the plate. Hitting just .219 on the season with 3 homers and 15 RBI’s does not seem too good. However late in the game he seems to get better. He would once again be clutch here. From the 7th inning forward he is hitting .283 (13-for-46) with 3 homers and 11 RBI’s and four game winning hits. That is clutch. His double to left would drive home the go ahead and eventual winning run. After Paul Konerko was hit by a pitch in his lone pinch hit appearance, Alejandro De Aza would draw a bases loaded walk to put the Sox ahead 3-1.

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Matt Lindstrom came in to the game in the bottom of the 12th and run into a bit of trouble walking Wellington Castillo but he would get the ground ball double play that would prove huge as Mike Olt singled to center as the next batter. Lindstrom would come back however and strike out Luis Valbuena to end the game.

Mad props to the White Sox bullpen who once again did a fine job. Over the last 15 games, covering 54 2/3 innings, the bullpen has posted a 1.65 ERA. Over the first 18 games of the season and 57 1/3 innings, the bullpen’s ERA was the worst in baseball at 6.12 on the season. That is great to see that turn around.

Tonight at 8:05pm ET Hector Noesi (0-1; 7.20 ERA) will get another spot start in this beat up starting rotation. He will face off against former White Sox Edwin Jackson (2-2; 5.24 ERA). With a win the White Sox would be able to get back to .500 on the season.


Viciedo and bullpen key to a Sox victory

Thank you, Dayan Viciedo.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Yesterday afternoon Dayan Viciedo became a hero for many White Sox fans, at least for a day. His 3-run homer in the top of the 9th inning helped lead the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. It helped snap a 4-game losing streak the Sox were currently on and also an 8-game losing streak in Cleveland. It is Chicago’s first win in Cleveland since April 14th, 2013.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Viciedo’s dramatic 3-run blast came off closer John Axford who had entered the game for Cory Kluber. Kluber pitched a brilliant game for Cleveland as he shut down the White Sox offense over eight innings. He allowed just one run on three hits, walking two and striking out a career-high 13 batters. He was in line for the win when he left, but had to settle for a no-decision thanks to Viciedo. Kluber was so dominant yesterday as he struck out seven straight batters at one point in the game.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The only run Kluber surrendered was a solo homer in the first inning from Jose Abreu, is MLB-leading 12th homer on the season. The only other slight mistakes he made was a walk to Adam Dunn in the 1st, a single to Leury Garcia in the 3rd, a walk to Garcia in the 5th after striking out seven in a row, and a single to Dayan Viciedo in the 7th. That was it.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, White Sox starter Andre Rienzo struggled with his control allowing three runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out two for the no-decision over just 4 2/3 innings. Rienzo allowed two solo homers to George Kattaras in his first two MLB at-bats and also a bloop single to Lonnie Chisenhall in the 3rd for the Indians three runs.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Yet the bullpen did a remarkable job and kept the White Sox within striking distance. Zach Putnam threw a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, and Ronald Bellisario added a scoreless frame with a strike out. Daniel Webb allowed a hit and a walk in the 8th but was able to escape the jam. Over the last eight games, covering 26 innings, the White Sox bullpen has allowed only two earned runs. That is a great job, especially after the bad start they had to the season. That opened the door for Viciedo and Co.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

John Axford struggled with his control entering the game and walked Gordon Beckham, struck out Jose Abreu and then walked Adam Dunn before Viciedo came to the plate and took a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner deep to right field on a line drive rocket into the seats.

Matt Lindstrom then came on to collect his 4th save of the season and give the White Sox the victory. It gives the team a bit of momentum and a good feeling leaving Cleveland as they will travel to Wrigley Field today to begin the Crosstown Cup with the rival Chicago Cubs (11-18). The White Sox (15-17) will play two night games in Wrigley before coming home to play two more games at U.S. Cellular Field to close out the series.

vs Cubs

The game begins at 8:05pm ET and will be the earliest in the season these two teams have ever played one another. The White Sox will face off against Jeff Samardzija (0-3; 1.98 ERA) who is winless on the season in six starts despite having a remarkable ERA. The White Sox will send Jose Quintana (1-2; 4.00 ERA) who will be making his first ever start at Wrigley Field.

(John J. Kim/Sun Times)

This will also be Paul Konerko’s final trip to Wrigley Field in his career so expect him to be in the lineup. It also may mean that Adam Dunn may play some outfield as well as seeing Jose Abreu at DH at some point.