Action for Jackson: Stellar start begets rout
Everyone pitches in at dish; White Sox keep pace in AL Central
CHICAGO -- After six innings played during Thursday's 8-0 White Sox whitewash of the Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field, Omar Vizquel left the game with what was called an upset stomach.
That queasy feeling must have come from something the third baseman ate earlier, because it certainly wasn't induced by his team's near flawless play in the series finale, which kept the White Sox 3 1/2 games behind the Twins in the American League Central.
Edwin Jackson (2-0) saved the bullpen with eight innings, and he decided he might as well dominate the Orioles (45-83) while he was out there. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and gave up just three for the game.
In support of Jackson, the White Sox offense knocked out 14 hits and recorded their 11th game of 10 or more hits in the past 12. It was a much needed victory, ending a stretch of five consecutive series losses that began back at Camden Yards from Aug. 6-9.
"This is a team of professionals," said Jackson of his squad after surviving consecutive series setbacks to the Orioles, the Twins, the Tigers, the Twins again and the Royals. "There are a lot of guys in here who have won before and know what it takes to win.
"We don't need to put pressure on ourselves or come in and stress. The mood has been the same through the good stretches and bad stretches as long as I've been here. That's always been a positive, when you have a team whose confidence hasn't gone anywhere."
Jackson's confidence seemingly has skyrocketed since coming over from the D-backs in exchange for Daniel Hudson at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He fanned 10 on Thursday, marking the first time in his career where Jackson posted back-to-back starts with double-digit punchouts.
Of course, the last official start for Jackson came on Aug. 14 against Detroit. But he also had a seven-pitch outing against the Royals in Kansas City on Friday night before the game was delayed and eventually postponed.
Eleven days in between trips to the mound seems to agree with him.
"As a professional, you have to deal with it," said Jackson, who walked only two. "You don't have time to make excuses. You have to keep a mind frame like you are on a regular routine. It's definitely a lot of rest, but it's just one of those things."
"You look at all the good pitchers through baseball. They all pitch off their heater and get ahead in the zone with their heater, and that opens up other pitches," said Baltimore first baseman Ty Wigginton. "And any pitcher that comes out and does that, it's tough as an offensive team."
Six different White Sox players came up with at least two hits off of Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta (4-6) and two relievers. The two hits for Paul Konerko raised his average to .315, while A.J. Pierzynski's double and single in three at-bats jumped his average up to .254.
Alex Rios knocked out three hits in a game for the first time since a July 2 contest against the Rangers, and added his 18th home run and 26th stolen base. It was a good turnaround as a team after Brian Matusz shut down the offense on Wednesday, and a good bounce-back effort for Rios, who entered the game hitting .225 in August.
"Guys are off suicide watch around here," said Juan Pierre. "We got some guys and they get no hits, it's the end of the world to them. But I'm glad to see guys with good at-bats more so than the hits. We had good at-bats throughout the lineup, made the pitcher work, throw pitches and collectively, offensively it was a great game."
"Every time Rios starts to try to do too much with the ball like everybody else, then he fails," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "But I'm glad he picked it up today. I know how the players feel when they struggle. I know very well. He wasn't feeling good the last couple of days."
Pierre also picked up his 50th stolen base, making him the 11th player in White Sox history to accomplish such a feat and marking the 13th time in franchise history it has been reached. Luis Aparicio hit that level in three seasons.
"Our ultimate goal is to get the 'W,'" Pierre said. "Like I said, I don't really put too much emphasis on personal achievements, but it's nice because I do take pride in stealing bases."
The victory momentarily took the focus off of the White Sox great Manny Ramirez waiver pursuit, and set the club up with a little momentum as the Yankees and their 78-49 record come to town this weekend. It might make Ken Williams sleep a little easier and feel good about his team.
Then again, it doesn't take much to build the general manager's confidence in his charges, as presently assembled.
"They'll give me confidence by stringing together some wins," Williams said prior to the victory. "It's not the time to have confidence or anything other than just watching and having confidence that you have a team that's competing right now and you got a chance to win a division.
"When we started Spring Training, we hoped that we'd be there and we're here. We just have to capitalize off it. We got to win games like last night when the team in front of us was losing, and that makes you feel a lot better when you go to sleep."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.