Harrell debuts in White Sox win
Called up earlier in the day, righty picks up 'W'
CHICAGO -- It seems the White Sox can do no wrong at U.S. Cellular Field, as they got a solid outing from Lucas Harrell in his Major League debut on the way to a 6-1 win over the A's on Friday -- their 12th in a row on the South Side.
Harrell, who began the day with Triple-A Charlotte in Louisville, didn't know he was going to be pitching in the Major Leagues when he woke up, but the White Sox lost their scheduled starter for Friday's game when they traded away Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a deal bringing Edwin Jackson to Chicago.
Maybe the jitters didn't have time to truly set in for Harrell, as he was on a plane Friday morning to Chicago and that same evening turned around and threw six innings of one-run baseball.
"It was definitely good once I got here, because it was kind of a long flight and the time I had between going to the airport and all the anticipation building up, I was excited," Harrell said.
Harrell flirted with danger early, stranding five runners on base in the first two innings, including pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning.
"He worked some counts well, and we created some opportunities," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We knew we were going to get some opportunities against him. That's what happens when you're not commanding the zone, but we just weren't able to do much."
After that, Harrell was able to settle down, despite giving up a run in the fourth inning.
"A.J. [Pierzynski] came out to me and he just said, 'Be yourself. Do what got you here, use your sinker. Throw the ball over the plate,'" Harrell said. "Get early contact, because that's the kind of pitcher I am. I just kind of did those things and that got me back in the groove."
The White Sox offense picked up Harrell and spotted him a lead in the very first inning. Juan Pierre singled, stole second, and then was driven in by Alex Rios' single to center.
After Harrell gave up his lone run, the White Sox broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth with three runs to give the rookie all the cushion he would need. The rally was highlighted by Dayan Viciedo's double to deep center that put Pierzynski and Viciedo in scoring position, and then Gordon Beckham's run-scoring single that brought home the third of the inning's runs. Pierzynski and Andruw Jones also picked up RBIs in the rally.
"One thing about it, we picked each other up," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We really do. We don't have to just wait for one guy to do the damage. Right now, we're clicking and everybody's doing little things to help. We have one stolen base, and a base hit, we take the lead. All the little things are big for us at the end of the game."
Harrell left to a standing ovation after getting the Athletics (51-51) to go three up, three down in the sixth on just 12 pitches.
After Sergio Santos pitched a quiet inning in the seventh, lefty Erick Threets ran into trouble to start the eighth. He didn't record an out, and Guillen pulled him after two consecutive singles on four pitches.
With runners on first and second with no outs, and down 6-1, it looked as if the A's would have their best chance to mount a comeback.
Tony Pena slammed the door shut with just two pitches. His first pitch to Kevin Kouzmanoff induced a double play, and then his second pitch got Mark Ellis to ground out to end the inning.
"That was a big inning for us, because I didn't want to use [Matt] Thornton or Bobby [Jenks]," Guillen said. "J.J. Putz was not pitching today, and I think that was great, two pitches and three outs. That's all we're looking for."
With the Twins nipping at the White Sox heels, Harrell coming up in short notice in the middle of a pennant race and managing to get a win is the type of performance that could be remembered at the end of the season.
"It's a big win because all these games matter so much," Konerko said. "When you have a day when a guy gets called up and doesn't even know he is pitching 24 hours ago and you get a win out of it, that's good."
Harrell is the first White Sox pitcher to win his Major League debut since Kip Wells in 1999. That did not get him an extended stay in the Majors, however, as he was optioned back down to Triple-A Charlotte about the same time he was being showered by his giddy teammates Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and Beckham.
"It's not easy to go out there in front of a relatively big crowd and in a playoff race," Beckham said. "That was a game we needed and the Twins look like they're going to win again. We have to keep winning. He pitched great. There are a lot of butterflies and I thought he handled it well."
With the Twins defeating Seattle by a 5-3 margin on Friday, Harrell's performance kept the South Siders 1 1/2 games ahead in the American League Central. If the White Sox end one of the final games of the regular season with a champagne shower, the White Sox might be well served to think back to Harrell's beer shower.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.