- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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SEATTLE -- With one outing, rookie Daniel Hudson might have helped to keep a handful of other top prospects in the White Sox organization.
In his second start of the season and fourth of his brief major-league career, the right-hander was solid in a victory over the Seattle Mariners. A mere 11 days from the non-waiver trading deadline, Hudson might have sent a message to White Sox management that a deal for a starting pitcher isn’t necessary.
There was myriad story lines that could have sidetracked the hard-throwing Hudson, but he didn’t look distracted by any of it in the White Sox’s 6-1 victory.
It’s one thing to have to replace a guy like Jake Peavy, but Hudson was also pitching for a first-place team that was on a three-game losing streak.
If that wasn’t coming up big, consider the fact that if Hudson didn’t show the White Sox something impressive Monday, general manager Ken Williams might have been forced to strongly consider one of the lopsided trade options sitting on his desk.
Hudson could have been part of that package. At the very least, he would have been sent back to the minor leagues to make room for his replacement.
"I think I had a better tempo out there, I wasn’t going too fast, which I think was the problem,” Hudson said, comparing Monday’s outing with the five runs in four innings he gave up to the Royals on July 11. “I had a better slider, better breaking ball, so that helped a lot.”
Williams was already saying before Monday’s game that making a deal wasn’t going to be easy with what teams are asking for proven players. With one American League source saying Monday the White Sox were considering more high profile guys like Houston’s Roy Oswalt or Fausto Carmona, over somebody like a Ted Lilly, the price would have been plenty.
Another possibility is that Hudson’s outing might get White Sox management to lean more toward a left-handed power hitter as the deadline approaches. It could all come down to how Hudson performs in his next outing. If the White Sox decide not to skip his next turn, an option they have with Thursday’s off day, he would next pitch Sunday at Oakland.
“Hopefully I buy myself another [start],” Hudson said. “I got to keep going out there and doing my job. I can’t really think about how many starts this gives me. I’ve got to go out and pitch well against Oakland next time.”
It didn’t look good from the start Monday when Hudson walked the Mariners’ second batter of the game, Chone Figgins, and then gave up an RBI double to Russell Branyan. He rebounded, though, to strike out the side swinging in the second inning.
Two walks and an error in the third inning could have meant trouble, but catcher A.J. Pierzynski threw out Jack Wilson trying to steal and Hudson got revenge on Branyan by getting him to ground into an inning-ending double play.
By no means was it the sharpest outing. Hudson loaded the bases in the fifth inning, giving up two singles and a walk with two outs, but he got out of that one too. In addition to his four walks, he had six strikeouts and gave up five hits and a run in his 6 2/3 innings.
Manager Ozzie Guillen went to his bullpen in the seventh inning after a two-out infield single from Jack Wilson.
Hudson deserved plenty of the credit, but if he wanted to thank anybody, shaking Alex Rios’ hand would be a good start.
Rios doesn’t have the numbers to inspire pity, but general manager Ken Williams had no problem giving it to his productive outfielder anyway.“Alex Rios could be hitting .400 if he had any kind of luck,” Williams said. “ I’ve never seen a guy hit the ball as hard as consistently for so long, and I don’t know what he’s hitting, .300 or somewhere around it, but he could be hitting.400 if he had any [luck].”
He got things to fall his way Monday, with a single in his first at-bat, a sacrifice fly for the White Sox’s first run in the third inning and a two-run home run in the fifth.
It was Rios’ 16th home run of the season, as he raised his batting average to .307 with his 2-for-4 night and lifted his RBI total to 54.
He is just one more on a long list of White Sox players that got it going in June. He entered Monday’s game with a .351 batting average (13-for-37) with two home runs and six RBIs in his last 10 games and a .317 batting average with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.
By the numbers
100: Career home runs for Alex Rios after he connected on a two-run shot in the fifth inning Monday against the Seattle Mariners. After just five games it has already been a milestone second half for Rios. He connected on his 1,000th career hit Thursday at Minnesota.
“He has my confidence in him. We need him to help our bullpen the way we want to, Bobby has to be our closer. I expect that continue to happen. I think it’s one game. He blew a save before and bounced back very well.” – manager Ozzie Guillen, on closer Bobby Jenks, who gave up four runs Sunday as the Twins rallied for a victory.
John Danks (9-7, 3.58) will get his second start of the second half Tuesday against the Mariners. He earned the only victory in the recent four-game series against the Twins, giving up six runs on nine hits in six innings. All six runs came in the second inning. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three outings against the Mariners. Danks will be opposed by Seattle’s Doug Fister (3-5, 3.50), who is 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list.
Daniel Hudson may have gone from question mark to problem-solver.