Notes: Sox try their luck out West
Guillen begins All-Star planning; Anderson stays loose
CHICAGO -- Did the White Sox officially exorcise their West Coast demons with the three-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim, clinching the American League pennant late last October?
The American League Central leaders will have a chance to answer that question, beginning Monday night in Seattle. The White Sox play six of their next eight games in the Pacific Time Zone, with three against the Mariners and three against the Angels, following Thursday's off-day.
It's an area of the country that has spelled trouble for the White Sox since manager Ozzie Guillen was a player. Since 1998, the South Siders have a 13-26 record in Seattle, a 12-24 mark in Anaheim and a dismal 10-29 ledger in Oakland.
"Oakland is the only place we think about, because we really struggle out there," said reliever Cliff Politte of his team's Western problems. "Otherwise, nobody really is talking about how we are going out West."
While the three straight wins in Anaheim obviously did a great deal for the White Sox confidence, where playing in that part of the country is concerned, it's actually the four victories that followed in Houston which really changed the team's perception. As Politte pointed out, the White Sox came into the 2006 season carrying the expectations of a champion to win, and win quite frequently, whether the games are being played at U.S. Cellular Field or Angel Stadium.
For Guillen, it's more about maintaining the same steady approach that produced 12 wins in the team's first 17 games.
"Just take it one day at a time and not worry where we are," Guillen said. "Be consistent every day about our business, regardless if we are losing or winning. When you lose and you cut the losing streak quicker, you have a better chance to win the division. That's what good teams do."
Good teams usually feature a top-notch pitching staff, and the White Sox have one of the best in baseball. This current fact leads the team back to the 2005 ALCS and deciphering the key ingredient for West Coast success.
"The difference was our starting pitching," said Politte, of the consecutive complete games put up by Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras during the ALCS. "If you have the sort of starting pitching we had, your team is going to win a lot of games anywhere."
A funny guy: Maybe a return to Seattle will help Brian Anderson's offense continue moving in the right direction, after his two hits Sunday. During an Aug. 26 game last season at Safeco Field, Anderson had the greatest game of his young career with his first two Major League home runs both coming off rookie phenom Felix Hernandez. Anderson finished with three hits for the night. He had six hits in 41 at-bats entering Sunday's contest.
But as has been the case since the start of the season, Anderson has maintained his same easy-going, humorous demeanor in the throes of the early-season funk. For example, Anderson was asked after Friday's game if he felt a sense of pride in regard to getting a hit off Johan Santana, one of the top pitchers in baseball. Anderson joked that it was great, except for the fact that he thought he had squared up the pitch and was going deep, only to have Santana splinter his bat.
Then, there was Anderson's first home run of 2006, coming on Sunday against Carlos Silva. After Anderson had crossed the plate and was back in the dugout, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire appealed Anderson missing first base on his rather quick sprint around the bases. Anderson said he literally stumbled upon hitting the base, but still was prepared for the worst.
"When I saw them challenging at first base, I was like, 'Oh, my God. If I didn't hit first base, I might as well go to Triple-A right now and call it a season," said Anderson, drawing a laugh from the media.
Anderson also originally received the cold shoulder from his teammates in the dugout following the home run, the same reaction he dealt with after his first career blast in Seattle.
"I'm saying [Paul] Konerko and/or A.J. [Pierzynski] had something to do with that," Anderson said with a smile.
Ending the run: Jim Thome's Major League record of 17 straight games with a run scored to start the season came to a close on Sunday. Thome flew out four times, hitting the ball hard in every at-bat, and picked up his 19th RBI with a sacrifice fly in the third.
"It's been great. It was a nice run," Thome said. "But let's move on and keep rolling."
Midsummer thoughts: Guillen's focus currently lies with the White Sox and their day-to-day on-field battles. But it won't be long before Guillen will have to change uniforms and think about managing his first All-Star Game for the American League.
For now, Guillen simply is trying to set his All-Star coaching staff. He added Sunday morning that his entire White Sox staff will be making the trip to Pittsburgh for the July 11 contest, even if he has to foot the bill himself.
When asked about loading up the AL roster with White Sox players, as Joe Torre did with the Yankees in his last managerial role, Guillen smiled and said he would love to take every member of his team. But he also pointed out how the managers don't have the same say in the selection process as they did previously.
"We don't really have the chance to pick that many people," Guillen said. "The fans vote for players. Then all of a sudden the fans vote for the final guy. We might pick one or two guys. That's what I think. The pitching staff is real tough to pick because one guy is going to pitch one day [before], and then he can't pitch.
"To tell you the truth, it's an honor to be there. There's nothing better than being the manager of the All-Star team when you win the title before. Besides that, it's a lot of work. There are a lot of things to do. The best thing about the All-Star Game is when the game starts."
And Guillen intends to win once the game starts, a victory that once again could give the White Sox home-field advantage in the World Series, if they get that far.
Down on the farm: Paulo Orlando continued his hot offensive start with three hits, including his second home run, during Class A Kannapolis' 8-7 loss at Charleston on Saturday. Orlando is hitting .383 for the season. ... Lance Broadway pitched well enough to win but suffered the loss in Double-A Birmingham's 2-1 setback at Jacksonville on Saturday. Broadway struck out four and allowed two runs over seven innings, giving him 22 strikeouts and three walks in 25 innings pitched this season. Chris Getz, who had one hit Saturday, is hitting .478 during his six-game hitting streak for Birmingham. The Barons also have at least one double in all 17 games this season.
Up next: Garland tries to build on Tuesday's solid effort against Kansas City, as he takes the mound in Seattle on Monday. He'll start the White Sox eight-game road trip against the Mariners' Jamie Moyer. Garland allowed one earned run in six innings during last Tuesday's contest.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.