CHICAGO -- It's no secret the White Sox offense has struggled to execute with runners in scoring position, and Friday night was no exception.
In their 14-inning loss, the White Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base, including leaving the bases full in the 11th inning after loading them with only one out.One key to improving those numbers for manager Ozzie Guillen is finding someone in the two-spot to move runners into scoring position for the middle of the order.
For much of the season, that man has been shortstop Alexei Ramirez, but recently Guillen has been trying out third baseman Brent Morel for that role.
"I think Ramirez is an RBI guy," Guillen said. "He doesn't really know how to bunt, and it's very tough for him to move the guys over. I need a guy there to handle the bat very well and make things happen. I think [Morel] is swinging the bat pretty well right now and that's why I take a chance with him."
Morel has spent most of his time in the lineup hitting out of the nine-spot, where he had taken 151 of his 178 at-bats entering Saturday's game. On Saturday, Morel went 3-for-4 in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, singling three times before lining out to shortstop Ian Desmond.
Bullpen thinned out after 14-inning loss
CHICAGO -- Philip Humber, Sunday's probable White Sox starter, was set to enter Friday night's game had it gone to a 15th inning. With the Nationals scoring four runs to win it in the 14th, the White Sox were able to save Humber's arm, but the same couldn't be said for much of their bullpen.
Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton each worked two innings in relief Friday night, and manager Ozzie Guillen said they were both off limits for Saturday's game. Though he hoped to avoid using him, Guillen said starter Jake Peavy would be available out of the bullpen "just in case."
That "just in case" became a reality when starter John Danks suffered a strained right oblique in the second inning of Saturday's game. After reliever Brian Bruney pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, Peavy came on and dominated the Nationals, allowing just one hit while striking out seven over four innings. It was Peavy's first career relief appearance in the Major Leagues.
"I told [catcher Ramon] Castro to be ready to pitch today if we need him," Guillen joked before Saturday's game. "But [Crain and Thornton], I'm not going to overuse [them] and make sure we keep them healthy for the season.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"It's a little different if you've got five starters, you maybe don't want to send a starter out there from your bullpen," Humber said. "I guess that's one of the benefits [of the six-man rotation], but hopefully it doesn't come up too often."Along with Crain and Thornton, the White Sox also used Chris Sale for two-thirds of an inning, Will Ohman for one-third, and Bruney and Sergio Santos for an inning apiece. "The best news," Guillen said, "is my pitching coach [Don Cooper] said, 'Don't worry about that. We'll get it done somewhere, somehow. Somebody's going to be on the mound.'"
Ozzie unwavering in support of Pierre
CHICAGO -- White Sox left fielder Juan Pierre was on the bench for Saturday's game against the Nationals, but don't expect him to stay there.
After answering the same questions for weeks now regarding Pierre's status in the lineup and the potential callup of Dayan Viciedo from Triple-A Charlotte, Guillen reiterated his stance on Saturday.
"I have a job and I'm very tough at it," Guillen said. "I play JP because I think he's the best guy to help us win. If he's 0-for-100, you think I don't know that? When you're in my spot, when you sit in my chair, you will be criticized 99 percent of the time."
Guillen refrained from finishing multiple sentences regarding the people criticizing Pierre, who is hitting just .248 and has been caught stealing nine times in 19 attempts. Pierre was hitting exactly .248 on this date last year, but hit .300 in July and .354 in August to finish the year hitting .275.
"As long as JP is here, he's playing. [If] people don't like it .. ," said Guillen before stopping himself mid-sentence. "I wish I could say what I think, but I'm not going to be in trouble. I'd be all over, CNN, Playboy Channel, everywhere. But I'm not going to say it. That's the first time I'm going to keep it to myself."
Bouncing back no problem for White Sox
CHICAGO -- Losing Friday night's series opener to the Nationals may have put the White Sox streak of winning 17 straight Interleague series in jeopardy, but it's certainly not unfamiliar territory for the South Siders.
The White Sox are now 0-4 in series openers against National League teams this season, but they rallied to win the remaining two games in each of their previous series against the Dodgers, D-backs and Cubs to extend the streak, which dates back to 2008. After winning five straight series openers from May 26-June 9, Friday's loss marked the team's fourth straight series-opening loss.
"That was a very weird game last night," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "If you say you don't like the way you played, you sound like you're stupid or crazy. It's an exciting game, but in the meanwhile, we had a chance before that and we couldn't get it done."
With both the Tigers and Indians losing on Friday, the White Sox missed out an opportunity to make up a game in the standings, but Guillen insists he's not worried about his division rivals.
"We don't have to worry about the Tigers, we don't have to worry about Cleveland," Guillen said. "We have to worry about the White Sox. It doesn't matter if they lose or win. When you're in the position we are, we have to win every time out."
With Saturday's win, the White Sox will have a chance to record their 18th straight Interleague series victory with a win on Sunday.
Third to first
Jake Peavy's seven strikeouts Saturday were the most by a White Sox reliever since Brandon McCarthy had eight in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels on Sept. 11, 2005.
Alex Rios recorded his first three-hit game Saturday since May 7, and he is hitting .429 during his seven-game hitting streak.
Ramon Castro caught Roger Bernadina stealing in the third inning Saturday to end a streak of 21 straight successful stolen-base attempts by White Sox opponents.
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.