Tireless Abreu lets bat do the talking

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
11:31
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT -- The man of the hour made no comment Tuesday because he remains intent on being the man of the season.

With a collection of microphones and tape recorders ready to document every word from Jose Abreu after another night of exploits, the Chicago White Sox's rookie slugger simply waited out the curiosity seekers.

Abreu wasn’t hiding from those intent on hearing just how he delivered three hits, hit his 31st home run, moved into the major league RBI lead and extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsJose Abreu capped a four-RBI night, which gave him the major league lead, by celebrating -- with a workout.
Instead, after such an accomplished game, he showed his dedication with a late-night session in the workout room followed by some muscle-revival tactics in the trainer’s room. It seems there is no group that can get a leg up on one of baseball’s most impressive bats.

Abreu’s four RBIs gave him 83 on the season, moving him past the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who was on the opposite side as the White Sox rolled to an 11-4 victory. On a rare night playing third base this season, Cabrera engaged Abreu in a conversation at one point in the eighth inning.

If the Tigers’ slugger was wondering if Abreu was set on unseating him from two consecutive seasons atop the MVP voting, this was probably the time to ask.

“He’s not Miguel Cabrera, but he has a chance to be something like that,” said teammate Tyler Flowers, who had two hits and scored twice. “Every at-bat, every day, the way he works, that’s how I imagine Miguel works. It seems like he’s got just as much power, and similar kind of swing too. He can take balls in and drive them out to right-center. He doesn’t seem to get fooled too often. He’s a complete hitter.”

Abreu looks to have the rookie of the year award in his back pocket, but without the chance to carry a team that can dominate for long stretches, can he actually win the league’s top prize as most valuable player?

“I think so,” said pitcher Jose Quintana, who received an avalanche of run support for one of the few times this season. “I want it because this is my team. He’s a pretty good guy and good teammate, and he deserves that.”

Manager Robin Ventura thinks so, too. Abreu might not have talked Tuesday, but plenty of those around him had plenty to say.

“Well, we’re going to have to keep playing, but he’s one of the best players in the league and that’s a fact,” Ventura said. “Whether people put him in [the MVP race], I don’t know. But I know he’s up there with anybody who is running for it.”

It’s not Abreu’s fault that his team isn’t quite ready for a deep October run, but that scenario has been known to derail an MVP bid. It wouldn’t be unprecedented if it happens again, just difficult with guys such as Cabrera and the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout looking like they will push their teams into the postseason.

"He's [good]," Ventura said of Abreu. "He's going against a tough pitcher and he's spraying it all over the place. For everyone who thought they'd pound him in and he wouldn't pull anything, he's using the right-field line and hitting homers to right. That's the biggest thing he's done from the start of the season.”

Abreu's late workout probably meant he would miss the team bus back to the Detroit suburbs. It's a daunting cab fare to return on your own, but Abreu didn’t seem like he would let a steep credit-card charge get in the way of his routine.

He won’t let any hurdles get in his way, on the field or off it.

“What I find real impressive is he’ll have a couple of at-bats, or a day, where he doesn’t look good at all,” Flowers said. “But sure enough, he gets out of those quicker than anybody I've seen. The next day or one or two at-bats later, he's right back driving balls all over the field.”

The 18-game hit streak Abreu is on started the day after a hitless game against the Seattle Mariners on July 5. The day before that game, his other 18-game hit streak had ended. It means he’s had 36 hits in 37 games, the second time in franchise history a player has had at least two hit streaks of at least 18 games in the same season. Eddie Collins had streaks of 21 and 22 games in 1920.

Nobody in the American League has hit in more than 18 consecutive games this season so on Wednesday night Abreu can put another feather in his cap in Detroit.

"We're over the fact it's his first year,” Ventura said. “He comes every day, prepared, ready to work and it's a very mature approach.”

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 11, Tigers 4

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
9:36
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video


DETROIT – The White Sox toppled the Detroit Tigers 11-4 on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series and now have won four of their last five games.

How it happened: The White Sox broke open a close game in the seventh inning by sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs. The White Sox scored their most runs since delivering 16 on April 20. Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn hit home runs in the seventh inning, while Alexei Ramirez hit a three-run triple. Abreu had three hits and tied a season-high 18-game hitting streak. White Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up two runs on nine hits over six innings.

What it means: Abreu drove in four runs to move him past the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead in RBIs with 83. He also has a hit in 36 of his last 37 games, which means he had an 18-game hitting streak, followed by a hitless game on July 5 against the Seattle Mariners before starting another 18-game streak the next day. The only White Sox player ever to record two hit streaks of at least 18 games was Eddie Collins (21 and 22 games) in 1920. His 31 home runs are the most from a rookie since Chris Young (32) and Ryan Braun (34) in 2007.

Outside the box: It’s unsure if Quintana knows what it feels like not to have to sweat out the completion of one of his starts. The king of the no-decision has received two runs or less of support in each of his last five starts and 15 times this season. His 36 no-decisions since 2012 are the most in baseball and his 3.91 run-support average over that time is third-lowest in the AL.

Offbeat: When Abreu and Dunn both went deep in the seventh inning, it was just the second time all season the White Sox had hit home runs in consecutive at-bats. The only other time it happened was when Ramirez and Avisail Garcia did it in April. They also were the first two home runs given up all season by Tigers reliever Joakim Soria, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

Up next: The White Sox will send right-hander Hector Noesi (5-6, 4.37 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the middle game of the three-game series. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Max Scherzer (12-3, 3.37) in the 6:08 p.m. CST start from Comerica Park.
video

DETROIT -- Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn hit consecutive home runs, part of a seven-run seventh inning that sent the Chicago White Sox to an 11-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Chicago sent 12 hitters to the plate in the seventh and broke the game open against Anibal Sanchez (7-5) and Joakim Soria. Alexei Ramirez added a three-run double in the inning.

Jose Quintana (6-7) allowed two runs and nine hits in six innings.

Detroit made three errors, including two in that seventh inning. Soria made his first home appearance since the Tigers acquired him in a trade with Texas. He retired only one of the seven hitters he faced and allowed his first two homers of the season.

Abreu hit his major league-leading 31st homer of the year. He finished with three hits, extending his hitting streak to 18 games.


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Sox deadline day deals since 2000

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
9:17
PM CT
Edes By Gordon Edes
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
BOSTON -- One day before the trading deadline last year, the Red Sox made the Jake Peavy deal, acquiring the veteran pitcher from the Chicago White Sox as part of a three-player deal in which the Sox sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers.

More typically, the Sox have waited until the final day of the trading deadine before striking. Here are the players the Sox have acquired on July 31 since 2000.

2013 -- none
2012 -- left-handed reliever Craig Breslow
2011 -- left-handed starter Erik Bedard
2010 -- catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2009 -- catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez
2008 -- outfielder Jason Bay
2007 -- right-handed reliever Eric Gagne
2006 -- none
2005 -- none
2004 -- shortstop Orlando Cabrera, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, outfielder Dave Roberts
2003 -- right-handed reliever Brandon Lyon, right-handed pitcher Jeff Suppan
2002 -- right-handed reliever Bob Howry
2001 -- right-handed reliever Ugueth Urbina
2000 -- none

Stone appreciates Cooperstown moment

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
7:52
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT – White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone appreciated his prime-time mention during Hall of Fame speeches Sunday, marveling in the randomness of it all.

[+] Enlarge
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesWhite Sox broadcaster Steve Stone was mentioned in Bobby Cox's Hall of Fame induction speech.
Former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox led off his speech with a story that took place while sitting next to Stone at an Arizona Fall League game.

“I think it was great to have heard that Bobby did that, knowing that might be the first time my name was ever mentioned in Cooperstown,” Stone said. “And it’s probably the closest I’m ever going to get to going to Cooperstown. I thank Bobby for the remembrance.”

In Cox’s story, a fan asked Stone for his autograph. Stone then asked the fan if he wanted Cox’s autograph. The fan said he recognized Cox as the guy who keeps getting kicked out of baseball games. Stone added more detail to the tale.

“Bobby was there checking out a young center fielder by the name of Jordan Shafer and we were sitting talking,” Stone said, estimating that it was 2007. “And he told the whole story exactly as it unfolded.”

White Sox move Rodon to Single-A

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
7:22
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT -- Carlos Rodon, the Chicago White Sox's first-round pick in June's draft, will be activated Wednesday at Class A Winston-Salem.

Rodon made two appearances in the Arizona Rookie League before his promotion, giving up two runs and four hits over three innings.

The left-hander, who was the No. 3 overall selection, is expected to work out of the bullpen for the rest of the season but projects as a starter down the road. The White Sox feel they can better control his work as a reliever.

The promotion raises the question as to whether Rodon could find himself in the major leagues before the season ends.

If the White Sox like what they see, he could be promoted to Triple-A and possibly to the White Sox when rosters expand in September. If that sounds quick, that is the exact same path Chris Sale took in 2010.

Sale was the 13th overall selection that year, pitched four games at Winston-Salem, seven at Triple-A Charlotte and then made his major league debut on Aug. 6, pitching in 21 games. Rodon's timetable appears slower because he signed later than Sale did.

Garcia progresses toward 2014 return

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
7:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT -- Avisail Garcia continued to make progress toward a comeback before the end of the season, taking part in a live batting practice session Tuesday that also served as a tune-up for reliever Matt Lindstrom.

Garcia used a midseason approach at the plate, doing more than simply swinging for power. He is hoping to go out on a rehab assignment, but a date for his departure has not yet been set.

"Yeah, I'm pretty close," Garcia said. "I got a simulated game today and felt great. I hit a couple of balls good. I'm just waiting for the time when they sent me down."

This past weekend, when the team was in Minnesota, manager Robin Ventura finally admitted that it is possible Garcia will return this year. Before that, general manager Rick Hahn had been definitive in saying the timetable for the right fielder won't be changed from the original plan of having him back next year.

"I don't think we're going to be pressing that he has to make it here, but if he's totally healthy and he's ready to go I know I would be happy to see him," Ventura said. "He can make it here whenever he makes it here. If he can get some time in the minor leagues at some point, just to be able to get there and play, then you figure that out afterward. You expect him to get some time in the minor leagues."

Garcia says he feels no residual effects from his shoulder surgery in April. He was injured diving for a ball April 9 at Colorado.

"I want to play so bad," Garcia said. "That's why I have been working hard every day. So let's see what happens for the next couple of days."

Lindstrom, who had surgery on his left ankle in late May, could be headed out on a rehab assignment as early as this weekend.

"I'm going to go get my work in down there and it will be a baseball decision after that," Lindstrom said. "I'm pretty confident in what we've been doing up here. Out there what I was doing today, I didn't even keep in the back of my mind with my ankle, so that was good.”

The right-hander, who opened the season as the closer, thinks he could be back after two or three appearances in the minor leagues.

"We have some type of timeline in mind but probably shouldn't say exactly when because we don't want to get put in a bad position," Lindstrom said. "But everything has gone basically as planned so far."

Pregame Notes: Tepesch is out for Friday

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
5:50
PM CT
Watkins By Calvin Watkins
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers made some changes to their starting rotation for the weekend series at Cleveland.

Nick Tepesch will not pitch Friday against the Indians and will be replaced by veteran journeyman Jerome Williams.

Miles Mikolas will go Saturday and Yu Darvish will get pushed back an extra day and pitch on Sunday.

Tepesch left his last start on Saturday after going six innings because of a slight knee problem. Tepesch has some swelling in the knee and the Rangers told him not to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday.

“It feels a lot better than it did the other day,” said Tepesch, 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA. “I’d say [the knee] is close [to 100 percent]. I won’t say it’s 100 percent.”

Manager Ron Washington said the goal is for Tepesch eventually to throw a bullpen (although the date hasn’t been decided) and pitch next Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Williams’ scheduled start comes after he was a spot starter last week and earned a victory against the Oakland Athletics. Williams held the A’s, who lead the majors in runs scored, to just one run over six innings in a 4-1 victory.

Washington said moving Tepesch was mainly a precaution and nothing more.

“Just skip him a turn, give him this one turn and he should be ready to go when we get to Chicago,” Washington said. “He took himself out of a game and we don’t want to rush him back; he’s missing just one turn through the rotation. Give him a chance to catch up.”

Darvish getting more rest: With Tepesch skipping a turn, it meant the Rangers' staff ace, Darvish, will pitch on five days' rest instead of his customary four.

After Sunday’s scheduled start against Cleveland, Darvish is slated to pitch Aug. 8 or Aug. 9 at Houston, where he could pitch either on four or five days' rest for one of those games.

“But we got these off-days coming and we want to try and give everybody a break if we can, including Darvish,” Washington said. “After this next off day in Houston [Aug. 7] he’ll get back on five [days' rest] and run it out through August.”

Martin's struggles continue: The numbers are pretty bad. Leonys Martin is 0-for-13 during this six-game homestand and is 0-for-16 in the past five games to drop his batting average to .273.

“Marty has to start using the whole field,” Washington said. “He just uses one part of the field. He’s much more successful when he uses the whole field. I think if you go look up the numbers you will see most of his hits are from [up the middle]. He’s got to do something different.”

Martin has 44 hits up the middle, but he’s got 18 RBIs when he pulls the ball to the left side with a slash line of .356/.356/.622.

“I haven’t been doing well, but you gotta keep fighting,” Martin said. “Mentally, I’m there and think about every pitch and keep fighting that’s all I can do right now. The last couple of games, I hit a couple of good balls. I can only control what I can do and keep fighting to do more."

Thomas shows emotion in 'grand finale'

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
6:48
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Showing a heart that was just as big as any of the eye-popping numbers he produced in a storied career, Frank Thomas was moved to tears during his Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday.

Thomas was, in fact, the only inductee to shed tears, losing it early at the mention of his late father Frank Sr., who passed away in 2001.

[+] EnlargeFrank Thomas
Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY SportsIn an emotional speech that went almost eight minutes over the allotted time limit, Frank Thomas made sure to thank everyone who ever had an impact on his life, including the city of Chicago and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
“Frank Sr., I know you're watching and smiling from heaven,” Thomas said to a crowd of 48,000 gathered on a grass field just south of the Hall of Fame doors. “Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown today. Thanks for pushing me and always preaching to me: You can be someone special if you really work at. I took that to heart, Pops. Look at us today.”

At that moment, the tears began to flow as Thomas was at the outset of a 17-minute, 45-second speech that was big on thank yous.

Thomas went to every corner of his life to make sure those who helped make him the person and player he was were recognized. He concluded with a rapid-fire list of 138 former teammates Thomas insisted on including, even though he was well over his allotted time limit.

With all of his family in attendance, including his mother Charlie Mae, who hadn't left Columbus, Georgia, in 15 years, Thomas recalled his high school baseball days, as well as his time as a football and baseball player at Auburn.

He thanked agents, coaches, friends, business associates and anybody else who touched him over his adult life. After his family, he reserved the warmest comments for White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

“Jerry, thanks for a long and wonderful ride in that Chicago White Sox uniform,” Thomas said. “You did a lot for me and you still mean a lot to me. Thank you, my friend.”

Often criticized for being a me-first player, especially because of his extreme interest in statistics and league-leader lists, Thomas' speech was the antithesis of that. He showed a vulnerability that added to the emotion as well.

Sitting next to fellow inductee Joe Torre long after his speech was completed, Thomas finally looked at peace after an anxious weekend that had him anticipating his address to the overflow crowd. Torre smiled as Thomas spoke of the reverence he has for his father.

“It was rough,” Thomas said. “Some of the closest people in my life are gone. When you get to that, it’s a lot of emotion. My father meant so much to me, and he’s not here today. I probably won’t get over this until the day is over. It was a special moment. This was my grand finale. I wanted to thank all the people who touched me. I thanked everyone who got me to this point. I definitely didn’t get here alone and I’m proud of that.”

Ozzie Guillen also received significant mention. Guillen and Thomas had a unique bond, with Guillen often antagonizing Thomas. In turn, Thomas admitted he was able to use any anger or frustration he had toward Guillen and Joey Cora and turn it into success on the field.

“And a special thanks to Ozzie Guillen, 11 years as a teammate, three years as a manager, and I can thank you for getting me my only ring, because we had that special bond for many years,” Thomas told the crowd. “I thank you, Ozzie, thank you very much.”

If the years weren’t correct, the sentiment hit right on target. Thomas and Guillen were teammates for just seven years and Guillen managed Thomas for just two seasons.

Thomas went on to thank trainers and doctors for getting him back on the field each day, reserving plenty of love for longtime White Sox trainer Herm Schneider.

After naming as many teammates as he could pack into a short amount of time, Thomas’s speech circled back to White Sox fans.

“In closing I would like to say thank you to the city of Chicago,” he said. “You guys made the Big Hurt who he was in the greatest sports town in America. I know I’m biased but I thoroughly enjoyed playing for you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Oakland, Toronto, I thank you for great fan bases and also for making me feel at home. It was short-lived, but I appreciate the love from both of you great cities.”

Playing in the heart of the Steroid Era, Thomas prided himself on not using performance-enhancing substances during a 19-year career, but he declined to get steroids-heavy in his speech. But he did close with a little advice to young athletes everywhere.

“To all you kids out there, just remember one thing from today: There is no shortcuts to success,” Thomas said. “Hard work, dedication, commitment. Stay true to who you are. God bless you all and I thank you.”

Thomas said afterward that a Hall of Fame speech wasn’t the place for a discussion on steroids.

“It wasn’t thought,” Thomas said afterward. “This is a special weekend. I just didn’t think that stuff was necessary. We all know what has happened over the last 15 years in baseball. Today is a bright stage among heroes.

“I wanted to get that out to the kids. Don’t take the shortcuts. Don’t do what other people say is cool or because it’s going to make you better. Believe in yourself, hard work and determination -- stay true to yourself is something I wanted to get out there.”

While players with great numbers are on the outside looking in at Cooperstown, Thomas was able to speak in front of 50 Hall of Famers and five fellow inductees Sunday to talk about his road to greatness.

“I would also like to thank my parents for working so hard to instill core values to make the best of life,” Thomas said. “We didn't have much but my parents worked tireless for me and my four siblings.”

2014 Hall of Fame class inducted

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
5:37
PM CT
[+] Enlarge2014 Hall Of Fame
AP Photo/Mike GrollBobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

"I'm speechless. Thanks for having me in your club," Thomas said, getting emotional as he remembered his late father. "Frank Sr., I know you're watching. Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown today. You always preached to me, 'You can be someone special if you really work at it.' I took that to heart, Pop."

"Mom, I thank you for all the motherly love and support. I know it wasn't easy."

The 46-year old Thomas, the first player elected to the Hall who spent more than half of his time as a designated hitter, batted .301 with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs in a 19-year career mostly with the Chicago White Sox


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Thomas' teammate list goes 138 deep

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
4:56
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Frank Thomas delivered what figures to be the most memorable speech at Sunday’s National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony with an address that was both emotional and full of thanks.

At the tail end of the speech, Thomas named 138 former teammates in rapid-fire succession. The list included players from the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays.

Inductees were limited to a 10-minute speech and by the time Thomas gets to the teammates portion he had already reached the 15-minute mark.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Sam Fuld hit a tiebreaking, two-run single off Javy Guerra in a three-run seventh inning, and the Minnesota Twins defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-3 Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

Danny Santana had two RBIs for the last-place Twins, who won for just the 11th time in their last 30 games.

Chicago led 2-1 in the seventh when Minnesota loaded the bases against Ronald Belisario (3-7) on walks to Josh Willingham and Eric Fryer around a single by Chris Parmelee.

Guerra relieved and retired Eduardo Escobar on a foulout, and Santana hit a tying sacrifice fly just deep enough to left-center field. Fuld followed with a line-drive single up the middle and was thrown out at second when he tried to advance.

Adrian Nieto homered in the eighth off Casey Fien, Nieto's first in 76 career big league at-bats. All-Star Glen Perkins retired Gordon Beckham on a bases-loaded flyout for his 25th save in 28 chances.


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Tales of Saturday's aces

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
1:20
AM CT
Gotsulias By Stacey Gotsulias
ESPNChicago.com
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Saturday was one of those days when baseball fans looked at MLB’s schedule, perused the pitching matchups and more than likely became very excited because a bunch of aces were slated to start. So in case you missed what happened, here is your roundup:

• Chicago’s Chris Sale was simply dominant against the sliding Minnesota Twins en route to a 7-0 win at Target Field. It was the 10th win of the season for White Sox’s ace, and it makes him the first Sox starter to win 10 of his first 11 starts since Mark Buehrle accomplished the same feat back in 2005. Sale lasted eight innings, gave up five hits -- all singles -- and walked two while collecting 12 strikeouts.

The biggest threat from Minnesota’s offense came against Sale during the second inning, after he walked Kurt Suzuki, who advanced Josh Willingham to second base. After that, Sale barely broke a sweat. He had three innings in which he set down the batters in order, and he recorded at least one strikeout in every inning he pitched.

According to Brooks Baseball, Sale was averaging 95.3 mph on his fastball while dialing it up to 97.3 mph when needed. He threw his two-seamer 63 times while sprinkling in his changeup (30) and slider (19). Seven of Sale’s 12 strikeouts were of the swinging variety. He got nine swings on misses on his changeup, and four of the singles came off his fastball, while one came off his changeup. The Twins could not do anything against his slider.

Sonny Gray, the ace of the Oakland Athletics, faced the lowly Texas Rangers in Arlington. While he picked up the win, which was Oakland’s 64th of the season, Gray wasn’t as dominant as you’d want your ace to be against the worst team in baseball. Gray lasted 6 2/3 innings and surrendered one earned run on seven hits, but he walked four and struck out five. His season ERA is now 2.65.

Gray favored his fastballs (two-seam, four-seam) and curveballs equally and got the most swings on the four-seamer. He also got the most strikes on the curve. It was his 12th win of the season, and he moved his strikeout total up to 121 on the season.

• Longtime Cy Young front-runner Justin Verlander didn’t fare well against the resurgent Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He picked up his ninth loss of the season but wasn’t exactly that bad. For other pitchers, a seven-inning, three-run performance could earn them a victory, but that didn’t happen for Verlander. Unfortunately for him and the Tigers, they ran into Matt Shoemaker, who pitched a gem -- seven innings, three hits, five strikeouts and no walks.

Verlander’s record is now at .500 (9-9), and his ERA is a robust 4.79. While he’s been struggling to put something good together all season, Detroit fans should be relieved about his velocity going back to more Verlander-like levels; on Saturday night his fastball was sitting around 96 mph.

• In Cincinnati, Johnny Cueto and Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals were locked in a pitcher’s duel that was ultimately won by the Reds’ ace thanks to a seven-inning, four-hit, nine-strikeout performance. Cueto, who saw his season ERA drop to a 2.08, threw 103 pitches -- 67 for strikes. The 28-year-old Cueto now leads the National League in innings pitched (155.2) and looks to be a front-runner for the NL Cy Young. He also has held opponents to a .184 batting average and has a WHIP of 0.93. He has 163 strikeouts on the season along with 11 wins.

Unlike Sale, Cueto used a bigger variety of pitches to get to the Nationals. According to Brooks, while Cueto favored his four-seamer -- he threw it 36 times -- he also sprinkled in 21 two-seamers, 16 cutters, 13 sliders and 11 changeups. He recorded a three-up, three-down inning in the third and struck out all three batters (two swinging).

• Last, but certainly not least in any sense of the word, we have another NL Cy Young front-runner, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, who did Clayton Kershaw things against the San Francisco Giants in one of those games you don’t want to say is big because it’s still only July, but in actuality, it is pretty big.

So what exactly did Kershaw do? He only pitched a complete-game shutout while giving up two hits and striking out seven. The poor Giants just didn’t have an answer for Kershaw, who picked up his 12th win of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.76. He favored his four-seam fastball and threw 68 of them while tossing 113 pitches overall. He set down the Giants in order during the first four innings of the game. The win helped the Dodgers pull ahead of the Giants in the NL West standings.

Stacey Gotsulias writes for It’s About The Money, a blog about the New York Yankees. You can follow her on Twitter.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Sale tied a season high with 12 strikeouts in eight dominant innings, Alexei Ramirez hit his 10th homer, and the Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota 7-0 on Saturday night for their third straight win over the Twins.

Sale (10-1) scattered five hits -- all singles -- and became the first White Sox starter to win 10 of his first 11 decisions in a season since Mark Buehrle in 2005. It was also Sale's 15th career game with 10 or more strikeouts, moving him into a tie for second on the team's all-time list with Juan Pizarro.

Twins starter Logan Darnell (0-1) struggled in his first major league start, giving up seven runs and 11 hits while striking out seven in five innings.

Daniel Webb pitched a scoreless ninth for Chicago, which has won seven of its last 10 games.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.299 31 83 56
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 31
RBIJ. Abreu 83
RJ. Abreu 56
OPSJ. Abreu .981
WC. Sale 10
ERAC. Sale 1.88
SOC. Sale 122