Hudson gets first start for resilient Sox
Chicago (73-77) vs. Minnesota (76-73), 7:11 p.m. CT
CHICAGO -- The word spoiler has yet to make its way into the 2009 White Sox vernacular.
Maybe that word hasn't been mentioned out loud because the South Siders host three games against the Twins, whom they trail by 3 1/2 games for second place in the American League Central, beginning Monday night. The White Sox also have six games remaining against the first-place Tigers, who hold a lead of 6 1/2 games over the Sox.
Sitting four games under .500 and without back-to-back wins since taking four straight from Sept. 2-5, that spoiler word certainly is coming dangerously close to being invoked. But with 12 games left on the ledger, the White Sox certainly are not ready to give up.
"You keep fighting," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said, "especially with the head-to-head games.
"This whole division all year, let's be honest, it's not teams winning 100 games, battling it out. It's been a lot of ups and downs for every team. So you keep fighting and that's what you signed up to do until they tell you to stop playing and you are officially out of it. You keep busting it."
To make matters even more interesting, rookie Daniel Hudson has emerged from a muddled picture as the replacement pitcher for Gavin Floyd on Monday night. Floyd is having at least one start skipped due to muscle soreness near his left hip, but if the White Sox fall completely out of contention, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said on Sunday that Floyd could be shut down for the season's final two weeks.
Guillen originally named D.J. Carrasco as Monday's starter, with Carrasco having his hopes set on competing for the 2010 rotation. But Guillen needed Carrasco's bullpen excellence to finish off Saturday night's victory. So, the decision came down to Hudson and Carlos Torres, with Guillen wanting to get a look at Hudson in a situation featuring a little bit of pressure in his first big league start.
"You throw him out there on Oct. 3, when nothing counts, they look good," Guillen said. "When they have to pitch and win the game, that's what I want to see. I believe when those guys pitch and they know they can pitch and they are not scared, they can handle it. I like [Hudson's] stuff, and I want to see him start."
"Pitching is pitching," said Hudson. "Just throw strikes and try to get ground balls early in the count to get in and out and soon as possible."
One concern about Hudson making the start is the elevated innings total for the 22-year-old. Hudson said Sunday that his arm felt fine and he was ready to start if that was the opportunity presented to him. Hudson pointed out how he threw 161 2/3 innings between Old Dominion University and the White Sox Minor League team in Great Falls in 2008, so the 153 innings he has tossed between five stops in '09 is not a problem.
"It should be really exciting," said Hudson. "I'm trying to go out and throw as well as I can and maybe try to impress a few people to set myself up for next year. Of course, a win is a bigger bonus for the team."
At this late stage, though, anything short of 12 victory bonuses will pretty much send the White Sox home for the fall. Even winning all 12 doesn't guarantee the White Sox anything, but hope stays firm.
"Win every game," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of his team's plan for the final two weeks. "We've said it for a while but we keep coming up short. We have 12 left, and we have to win all 12."
"I mean, we are not in a good spot, not where we want to be," Konerko said. "Tomorrow, we've got a game and if we worry about this one, it will only get worse. We need to come in here, get ready to play and stick our nose in a little bit and try to see how long we can stay alive."Pitching matchup
CWS: RHP Daniel Hudson (0-09, 4.76 ERA)
After much deliberation, the rookie right-hander was chosen over Carrasco and fellow rookie Torres to make Monday's spot-start in place of Floyd. Hudson has worked 5 2/3 innings of relief over three games for the White Sox after climbing four Minor League levels in 2009. Hudson posted a 14-5 overall record during his time pitching for Class A Kannapolis, Class A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, and he will make his first big league start. MIN: RHP Nick Blackburn (10-11, 4.34 ERA)
The second half of the season has been rough for Blackburn, but the right-hander put together a quality win Wednesday against Cleveland as he picked up just his second victory since the All-Star Break. Blackburn lasted 6 1/3 innings, scattering eight hits while giving up a pair of runs on a two-run Matt LaPorta homer. He also did not walk a batter for the fifth time this season. Blackburn is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA this year against the White Sox. Tidbits
Guillen reiterated on Sunday that he doesn't see any changes coming for his infield in 2010. He likes the combination of Gordon Beckham at third, Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and Chris Getz at second base. "My infield is set. That's going to be the team, hopefully," Guillen said. "I'll take the three kids. They play well and have a lot of energy and bring a lot of great stuff. Alexei has been better the past two months, Beckham is unbelievable the way he plays third. Nobody talks about Getz, but he's a great baseball player." Guillen also believes that Jayson Nix will continue to function as a top-notch utility player, including as an emergency outfielder. ... Beckham has just 20 hits in his past 109 at-bats, dropping his average from .306 to .266. But Guillen said Beckham wouldn't rest until the White Sox were officially eliminated. "He just needs to get hits," said Guillen, when asked if Beckham needed a couple of days off. ... Scott Podsednik is hitting .373 in his past 12 games and notched his team-leading 44th multihit game on Sunday. ... Freddy Garcia has not earned a victory against the Royals since July 25, 2005. ... The White Sox fell to 18-27 in one-run games after Sunday's 2-1 loss. Tickets
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Tuesday: White Sox (John Danks, 12-9, 3.59) vs. Twins (TBD), 7:11 p.m. CT
Wednesday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 12-9, 3.84) vs. Twins (Brian Duensing, 4-1, 3.22), 7:11 p.m. CT
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.