CHICAGO -- After sitting out one game with a dislocated ring finger on his left hand, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is back in the starting lineup, batting cleanup against White Sox ace Chris Sale.
The Red Sox can use Napoli's bat. They're hitting a collective .173 (36 for 208) while losing four of the first six games on this trip and have scored just 18 runs. Six of those runs came Wednesday night, when White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters but stranded 16 Red Sox runners on base before Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double off a position player, utilityman Leury Garcia, in the 14th to give the Red Sox a 6-4 win.
This will be the first time the Red Sox will be facing Sale, a two-time All-Star as a starter. The last time he pitched against them was in relief in 2011, and the Red Sox collectively have just 3 hits in 25 at-bats against him. No Red Sox player has more than one hit off him, and Jonny Gomes has the only home run. Napoli is 1-for-6 against him in his career. Sale has never faced Bradley, Dustin Pedroia, David Ross or Xander Bogaerts.
Putnam, 26, has 15 games of major league experience, most recently the five games he pitched in relief for the Chicago Cubs last season. In six relief innings at Charlotte this season he had 11 strikeouts.
Veal made seven relief appearances for the White Sox this season, posting a 7.50 ERA. He walked seven batters in just six innings.
The White Sox will need to pick up innings for right-hander Daniel Webb, who could be down for as many as two games after throwing 59 pitches over three innings in Wednesday's defeat to the Boston Red Sox.
CHICAGO -- Lost in the madness of the Chicago White Sox's 14-inning affair against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night is the fact that Jose Abreu is scuffling at the plate.
It was not unexpected that he would have struggles as he transitions to a new league, it’s just that his hot start and disciplined approach at the plate seemed to get everybody used to the idea that he would be able to handle himself just fine in the majors.
Wednesday’s 0-for-6 performance, though, means that Abreu is now 1-for-25 since hitting a home run in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. That homer was Abreu’s second of the game.
Looking back, there were warning signs that he wasn’t quite right at the plate. The night after his two-homer game he struck out twice against the Indians and three more times the following night.
So, yes, just another day of baseball. Quick thoughts ...
- The Red Sox beat the White Sox 6-4, scoring twice in the 14th inning off infielder Leury Garcia. I'd say the 14th inning is a little early to run out of relievers, especially when your starter goes six innings. The White Sox were nursing a 4-2 lead in the eighth, but manager Robin Ventura burned through four relievers in getting just three outs as Boston scored once in the eighth and once in the ninth. Ventura was trying to match up and brought in lefties Scott Downs and Donnie Veal to face one batter, which led to a thin bullpen in extra innings. Rather than try to get a fourth inning out of Daniel Webb (who had thrown 59 pitches) or use a starter in relief, Ventura used Garcia. The White Sox bullpen has an MLB-worst 6.38 ERA and the bullpen walked 11 batters in this game. It was a concern heading into the season, and Doug Padilla writes that changes could be in order.
- Julio Teheran continues to impress despite low strikeout totals. He beat Lee 1-0 with a three-hit shutout with just four strikeouts. Teheran threw 23 changeups (22 to left-handers), after having thrown only 15 in his first three starts. It worked as the Phillies went 0-for-6 against it. Teheran has only 13 strikeouts in 28 innings, but has allowed only four extra-base hits and walked six. The impressive thing about Wednesday's effort was going back out there in the ninth with a 1-0 lead. With Craig Kimbrel still day to day with a sore shoulder, Fredi Gonzalez even left Teheran in to face Chase Utley after Jimmy Rollins had singled (and stole second with two outs). Utley grounded a 3-1 sinker to second, Teheran's 115th pitch. Compare that to Lloyd McClendon, who pulled Hernandez in the eighth inning after 96 pitches and saw his bullpen and defense lose it in the ninth.
- It's only three starts, but Masahiro Tanaka looks like a No. 1 to me. OK, it was the Cubs. And the Cubs can't hit (Michael Pineda & Co. shut them out in the nightcap). Still, that splitter is a wipeout pitch. Maybe hitters will learn to lay off it, but as Hisashi Iwakuma and Koji Uehara showed last season, hitters can't lay off it, even when they know it's coming. Tanaka has 28 strikeouts through three starts. Since 1900, only Stephen Strasburg and J.R. Richard had more strikeouts in their first three career starts.
- Johnny Cueto had a brilliant three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout for the Reds over the Pirates, giving Cincinnati its first series win of 2014. Keep an eye on Pirates left fielder Starling Marte, however. Clint Hurdle didn't start him as he had struck out three times in each of the previous two games and now has 24 in 68 plate appearances (35 percent strikeout rate). He's hitting .250/.338/.383, but all the K's are becoming a concern. The Pirates need him to be more than just a great defensive left fielder; they need him to hit or this offense is really going to struggle to score runs.
- Jose Fernandez, after getting roughed up and struggling with his command in his last start, was cruising along into the sixth inning against the Nationals with a 3-0 lead, having allowed only one hit with six punchouts. Jose Lobaton led off with a double and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a terrible play with pitcher Tanner Roark bunting. The bunt was short and in front of the plate and while Salty had a possible play at third, with a 3-0 lead you just take the out at first. He threw wildly and everyone was safe. After a strikeout and infield pop out, Fernandez should have been out of the inning. Instead, Jayson Werth did this, lining an 0-1 fastball down the middle just over the fence in right-center (the review confirmed it was a home run). Fernandez ended up with 10 K's in seven innings, but the Nationals won it with three in the eighth.
- Big win for the Angels to avoid a sweep to the A's. A night after tying it in the ninth but losing in extra innings, the Angels again tied it in the bottom of the ninth and this time won in extra innings, on Chris Iannetta's 12th-inning walk-off homer against Drew Pomeranz. Mike Trout, who homered Tuesday to tie it, got the tying rally started with a base hit. Losing leads in the ninth is always wrenching, but especially so against a division rival. The Mariners lost to the Rangers in similar fashion (Jeff Sullivan writes it as only a Mariners fan can: Baseball's back).
- Buster Olney wrote on George Springer's major league debut for the Astros. Springer went 1-for-5 with a dribbler for a base hit, a walk and two strikeouts in the Astros' 6-4 loss to the Royals in 11 innings. He also got picked off (one of two Astros to get picked off). The Royals won despite making four errors. Some game there. The Astros, by the way, are hitting .189.
- Injury watch: Cardinals starter Joe Kelly is likely headed to the DL after pulling his hamstring trying to beat out an infield hit; Hanley Ramirez left the game after getting hit on his hand, but X-rays were negative and he's day-to-day; Kole Calhoun is out 4-6 weeks for the Angels after spraining a ligament in his ankle (J.B. Shuck hit leadoff in his place last night).
Over 14 often eye-covering innings Wednesday night, the White Sox were finally their own worst enemy in a 6-4 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.
White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters and struck out just five, becoming the first team to walk that many and strike out that few since the Toronto Blue Jays did it in a 2002 game against the Seattle Mariners.
"We just, for one reason or another, we didn’t seem to throw it over [the plate]," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "So, you know, a game that if you are going to give them that many opportunities, you are little surprised you are in it that late into the game."
When it was finished, utility infielder Leury Garcia took the loss. He had never pitched in a game before Wednesday, but he quickly followed the lead of the pitching staff by walking two batters, who came around to score and were the difference in the defeat.
Garcia could be excused for his control issues. The seven regular relievers to appear in the game walked a combined nine batters in seven innings. Daniel Webb walked three, but he looked worn down after three innings and a whopping 59 pitches.
It didn’t help that Ventura used four pitchers in the eighth inning alone, and with Lindstrom available, he let Maikel Cleto start the ninth inning with the White Sox clinging to a one-run lead. Cleto walked the first two batters before Lindstrom was called into the game.
Lindstrom ended up with the blown save when the tying run scored, but it was amazing he limited the damage to what it was. It was his third blown save on the young season, but in this one, there were actually positives.
"I could kind of see how they wouldn’t be confident in me in that situation, but I was feeling good," Lindstrom said. "I felt like I was ready and did my normal routine to get ready to go out there in the ninth. It was a tough loss. Our guys battled their [tails] off today."
The bullpen issues Wednesday came as no surprise. The White Sox entered the game with a 6.81 ERA over their past 13 games, and their 27 walks before Wednesday were last in the American League. They easily padded that total in the defeat.
So when the relievers gather in the bullpen for Thursday’s game against the Red Sox, Lindstrom said it will be time for a heart-to-heart.
"I think tomorrow, as a bullpen we can sit out there and talk a little about making sure we stay aggressive with our stuff in the zone, because we’ve got a pretty good defense behind us, too," Lindstrom said. “We need to realize that. It’s tough to hit, especially when it’s cold.
"As long as we can make sure we understand we have a good defense behind us and attack the zone, it’s going to be tough to hit. I found that myself a little tonight. I attacked the zone a little bit better with my sinker, and I got outs even when I wasn’t trying to do too much with it."
Who will be on hand for that meeting remains to be seen. After a hard work day, the White Sox could end up recalling a pitcher from the minor leagues. That would also mean somebody would be on their way out.
"I have full confidence in those guys," said starter John Danks, who walked four batters of his own. "I wish I could have gone deeper and saved those guys a little bit, but I have full confidence in those guys, and I believe, truly, whenever I come out of the game that it’s going to happen. Even the best bullpens in the league lose a lead like that. It’s part of it. There are 162 games, and it happens."
CHICAGO -- Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double off Chicago infielder Leury Garcia in the top of the 14th inning and the Boston Red Sox outlasted the White Sox 6-4 in a game that lasted 5 hours and 17 minutes Wednesday night.
With the score tied at 4 after 13 innings, the White Sox ran out of pitchers after Daniel Webb threw 59 pitches in three innings, so manager Robin Ventura turned to Garcia (0-1) to start the 14th. Garcia is the first White Sox position player to take the mound since Casper Wells pitched a scoreless inning last June.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox couldn’t hold a late lead Wednesday and lost 6-4 in 14 innings to the Boston Red Sox.
How it happened: With White Sox utility infielder Leury Garcia on the mound in the 14th inning, the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double for the go-ahead run and another for insurance. White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters and hit two more with pitches. The Red Sox used sacrifice flies in the eighth and ninth to force extra innings and another in the 11th to take a brief lead. But Tyler Flowers had an RBI single to keep the contest going. Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning. White Sox starter John Danks walked four but limited the Red Sox to one run on three hits over six innings. Rookie catcher Adrian Nieto, who had never played above the Class A level before this season, had two singles for his first multihit game.
What it means: The bullpen issues continued as relievers were responsible for 11 of the 15 walks. The only thing keeping the White Sox in the game so long was that the Red Sox had only three hits from the seventh to the 13th inning. Daniel Webb worked the longest, throwing 59 pitches. Bullpen strategy didn’t help things as manager Robin Ventura used four pitchers -- Scott Downs, Jake Petricka, Donnie Veal and Maikel Cleto -- in the eighth inning. Instead of using struggling closer Matt Lindstrom to start the ninth inning with the lead, Ventura let Cleto start the inning, and he walked the first two batters. Lindstrom came on to allow just one run but got a blown save in the process.
Outside the box: While guys like Ramirez, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu have gotten most of the attention for the White Sox’s offensive turnaround, Adam Dunn has quietly gotten off to his own solid start. The left-handed slugger, who is expected to sit Thursday to give Paul Konerko a start as the DH, has five walks in his past two games and is carrying a .553 slugging percentage average after 15 games. He entered the game leading the AL in on-base percentage at .468.
Off beat: There were 504 pitches in a game that lasted 5 hours, 17 minutes.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (3-0, 2.66 ERA) to the mound Thursday against the Red Sox in the series finale. Boston will counter with left-hander Jon Lester (1-2, 2.57) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.
A check of the early numbers showed the White Sox's nine steals were tied for third most in the American League before play Wednesday, while their 82 percent success rate was sixth best among AL teams that had tried at least four stolen-base attempts.
Yet despite an impressive .418 OBP, speedy leadoff man Adam Eaton has only one steal in two attempts. Even more amazing is that his successful steal was of third base, not second. Alexei Ramirez, Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien all have more steals than Eaton.
Manager Robin Ventura was asked if steal numbers are lower than expected because the productive offense hasn't needed that part of its game yet.
"Well, you give guys an opportunity to swing the bat if they're swinging it good," Ventura said. "And we're not going to steal certain guys that aren't really base-stealers. So the guys that can steal, they're going to get a chance to go ahead and go, but guys that aren't your natural base steals aren't going to be going."
Konerko, who returned for one last season at $2.5 million, made his only start this season at the Kansas City Royals on April 5. The White Sox faced left-hander Bruce Chen that day, the first time they had gone against a lefty starter.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura had two options to start Konerko in the current series with Boston and chose Thursday’s game against left-hander Jon Lester, instead of Wednesday’s game against Clay Buchholz.
Konerko hits both Red Sox lefties well. He is 7-for-15 (.467) in his career against Buchholz, with one home run and three RBIs. Against Lester, he is 10-for-25 (.400), with three home runs and seven RBIs.
Adam Dunn figures to sit Thursday while Konerko starts as the designated hitter. One possible influence on Ventura’s decision to use Dunn on Wednesday instead of Konerko is Dunn’s continuity, since the left-handed slugger hit a home run and had three walks in Tuesday’s victory over the Red Sox.
Konerko is just 1-for-8 this season with three strikeouts in his bench role. His only hit came on the first pitch he saw this season, entering as a pinch hitter on April 2.
After getting at least 460 at-bats in nine of the past 10 seasons, there figured to be a considerable adjustment period to sporadic at-bats.
“I think he’s done all right; it is an adjustment,” Ventura said. “He’s kind of playing along with the game, trying to figure out when it’s going to be the spot when you’re going to ask him to go in.
“He knows the situations he’ll be in there and he was prepared for them and he was ready for that at-bat [Tuesday night] before the [game-ending] error happened.”
With a hit in Wednesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox, Ramirez will tie Thomas' franchise record for longest hit streak to open a season at 15 games. His current 14-game streak is tied with Lance Johnson (1993) for second longest in club history. Thomas' record came in 1996.
But more important for Ramirez than the hot start and the hitting streak is the chance to win games again, something that was missing from last season's 99-loss club. Ramirez has even been the face of the game-ending run, scoring the walk-off winner in each of the past two games.
On Sunday it was his game-ending two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians, and on Tuesday it was his run scored from second base on a Red Sox error in the bottom of the ninth that ended it.
"I'm very happy for (the hitting streak)," Ramirez said through an interpreter after Tuesday's victory. "I'm just very fortunate, but more so I was happy that I was able to get on base so we can win the game. That's what we're trying to do. But I'm very thankful, very thankful to God for allowing me to do that."
Hitless in three previous trips to the plate against the Red Sox, Ramirez didn't extend his hitting streak until his final at-bat Tuesday.
Tying and possibly passing Thomas' season-opening hit streak would be only fitting for Ramirez since it would put his impressive start into the record books. Quite frankly, though, matching Thomas is not high on is priority list.
"Up to this moment I haven't really thought about that," Ramirez said. "What I've been doing is me contributing to this team, trying to do everything I can to help this team win and to be honest with you, I don't even know what Frank Thomas' record is. I just want to focus on myself and what I can do, how I can contribute."
Peavy, who was starting for the Boston Red Sox, probably didn’t want to hear anything about it, especially since he thought he actually had his former Chicago White Sox teammate beat.
“I mean his bat broke; we broke his bat,” Peavy said after his first start at U.S. Cellular Field since the White Sox traded him to the Red Sox in a three-team trade July 30. “You normally will take your chances when that happens. Most people aren't as strong as he is. He always said this ballpark played big to fair, and I'm going to go ahead and go on the record and have fun with him tonight, tell him that in big to fair ballparks, broken-bat homers don't get out.”
It didn’t get any better for Peavy and his Red Sox teammates. The White Sox scored a run on an error in the ninth inning to walk off with a 2-1 victory.
Peas in a pod when they were with the White Sox, Dunn admitted that the matchup against Peavy was a bit awkward. But it didn’t take much for the meeting to turn businesslike.
By the end of the first at-bat, Dunn had taken Peavy into the seats in right field.
“It’s weird, but it’s only weird early,” Dunn admitted. “Then after one pitch it’s kind of, ‘All right, you really are trying to get me out’ kind of deal. I think the competiveness takes over.”
The career numbers reveal Dunn has had a tough time against Peavy. He entered 5-for-31 with 11 strikeouts. But in the previous three games he had been 5-for-11 with two doubles. Even with the recent success, Dunn was not going to claim bragging rights.
“Yeah, first of all, you haven’t checked the numbers because I have no bragging right against him,” Dunn said. “But, yeah, that was a good win and seemed like we kind of let him off the hook in the second and third inning. And whenever you let a guy like that who’s got stuff like he’s got off the hook, it can be a long night ... and it was for the most part.”
The White Sox improved to 8-6 with the 2-1 victory, scoring the difference-maker in the ninth inning when Alexei Ramirez came in from second base on a throwing error to first base by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Had the throw to first been on the money instead of in the dirt, the game would have shifted into extra innings.
New closer Matt Lindstrom has been far from sharp in the early going, while veteran newcomers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs have been unable to reach past standards. Downs was at least able to contribute Tuesday with a scoreless inning that tells only part of the story.
The left-hander replaced starter Erik Johnson with runners on first and second base in the seventh inning of a tie game. Downs quickly retired Jackie Bradley Jr. on a strikeout to end the threat, and then retired the first two batters of the eighth inning before giving way to Jake Petricka.
“Everyone knows what kind of player [Downs] is,” Johnson said. “He’s been around for so long, he has the experience and he has the knowledge. I think for him it’s just a matter of time. You saw tonight that he was lights out.”
Before Tuesday’s outing, Downs had pitched five times in a White Sox uniform and failed to record an out in three of the outings. This time, he was able to set the tone for what was to come. Petricka got out of the eighth and recorded the first out of the ninth before allowing a walk to Mike Napoli.
Donnie Veal came on to record an out but hit A.J. Pierzynski with a slow breaking ball that put two runners on base. That threat was no problem for reliever Daniel Webb, who threw one pitch before getting a comebacker from pinch hitter Mike Carp to end another threat.
The White Sox then won it with their run in the ninth inning, with Webb picking up the victory.
“[Manager] Robin [Ventura] said it’s the easiest one I’ll ever get,” Webb said afterward. “First win, it doesn’t matter how you got it. It feels good. I got the lineup card, and I think they are getting the ball.”
He also got the traditional beer shower from his teammates after recording his first major league victory.
“It was nice,” Ventura said of the bullpen’s night. “It started off with Erik, he was as good as he’s pitched this year. He was sharp, and the ball was coming out with life. The bullpen coming in and doing what they did, you know that’s what you are looking for. It was sharp. Downs came in and did his job. Everyone came in and did the job. They give you an opportunity to score runs.”
Maybe Webb hasn’t been around a long time –- Tuesday was his 14th career outing and fifth on the season –- but he knew a much-needed group effort when he saw one.
“I don’t know if that was pressure since everybody wants to do well,” Webb said. “The older guys want to do well just like the younger guys want to do well. We had our struggles early, but tonight we showed that we can pitch well.
“Coming out tonight like that, everybody pitched well, and it was a good team win.”
Capuano walked Adam Eaton to move Ramirez to second. Then with a 3-2 count, Marcus Semien hit a grounder to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, who one-hopped his throw to first baseman Mike Carp. Carp wasn't able to scoop the throw and Ramirez, who was already running on the pitch never stopped when rounding third and scored without a throw.
White Sox reliever Daniel Webb (1-0) got one out in the ninth for the victory.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox pulled off their second consecutive walk-off victory, beating the Boston Red Sox 2-1 on Tuesday.
How it happened: Alexei Ramirez scored the winning run on a throwing error by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts that first baseman Mike Carp was unable to dig out of the dirt. Rookie starter Erik Johnson gave up only one run on a home run by Daniel Nava in the fourth inning. Former White Sox starter Jake Peavy went six innings, giving up a run and three hits. That run came on Adam Dunn's third home run of the season, a blast into the right-field seats in the second inning. Peavy was over the 50-pitch mark after two innings but settled down to throw 113 in his six innings.
What it means: The rotation's next generation met the former generation and Johnson was able to deliver the best outing of his young career. The right-hander went toe-to-toe with Peavy by setting a career high with nine strikeouts and matching a career best with 6 2/3 innings. In two starts against the White Sox since joining the Red Sox, Peavy has given up a combined three runs over 13 innings.
Outside the box: White Sox manager Robin Ventura issued an unsuccessful replay challenge in the second inning. Jose Abreu appeared safe at first base when the Red Sox's Mike Napoli seemed to pull his foot off the bag, but replays were inconclusive and Abreu remained out. The play was even more costly for the White Sox when Dunn followed with his solo home run -- which would have produced two scores had the call been overturned.
Offbeat: Peavy and Dunn were very close when they played together for the White Sox. So Dunn's home run will give him bragging rights when they hang out again. The next time up, Peavy walked his buddy. And to let him know he was keeping an eye on him, Peavy threw over to first base, twice, even though Dunn was essentially standing on the bag the whole time.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (1-0, 4.15 ERA) to the mound Wednesday against the Red Sox in the middle game of the series. Boston will counter with left-hander Clay Buchholz (0-1, 6.97) in the 7:10 p.m. CT start from U.S. Cellular Field.
CHICAGO -- It took only a moment for Mike Napoli to realize he was in trouble.
"I look at my finger," the Boston Red Sox first baseman said, "and it's sideways."
The ring finger on Napoli's left hand was sticking out at an unnatural angle after he dove headfirst into second base while advancing on a wild pitch in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox.
From Napoli's retelling, second-base umpire Jim Joyce was even more distressed than Napoli by what he saw.
"Jim Joyce was going, 'Oh my God,' calling for the trainer," said Napoli, who was able to smile while describing the umpire's reaction, perhaps because by that time X-rays had returned negative, indicating no fracture.
The finger was dislocated, the Red Sox said, and reset by a White Sox team doctor. Napoli wore a splint on the finger as he spoke with reporters.
"It's not broke," he said. "I can play with some soreness. I guess we'll see how it goes tomorrow."