4/17/2014 2:19 A.M. ET
Johnson's adjustments in between starts pay dividends
By Scott Merkin and Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Even beyond Erik Johnson's career-high nine strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday's no-decision, the right-hander looked like a different pitcher.
"It just came out of his hand. Last night, it was crisper," said manager Robin Ventura of Johnson. "It looked like he had some zip on it with a good curveball when he needed it, movement when he needed it, and to hit the corners. That stuff is always is important just for his own mindset."
Johnson made some small mechanical changes in his windup and out of the stretch that he employed Tuesday. He picked those up through a few video sessions with pitching coach Don Cooper in between starts.
"You try to get better each time you work," Johnson said. "That's why you have those four days in between your starts, so you can really use those four days to your advantage. Being a starter, you are lucky to do that."
Semien showing patience at plate
CHICAGO -- Marcus Semien's patience at the plate directly contributed to a White Sox victory Tuesday.
It was Semien who checked his swing on a close 2-2 pitch from Red Sox reliever Chris Capuano and then hit the ensuing offering on the ground for what turned out to be a game-deciding error committed by shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Semien has shown the ability to work an at-bat since the start of the season, ranking 10th in the American League with 4.39 pitchers per plate appearance.
That patience was on display during the 2013 season, when Semien walked 98 times and struck out 90 over stops with Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham.
"I know last year I was very patient," Semien said. "It seemed like the deeper I got in the count, the better I did. I don't know what the correlation between that is."
The correlation could be as simple as Semien seeing more pitches by working deeper counts. But in keeping with hitting coach Todd Steverson's controlled aggression approach, Semien wants to be as locked in at 2-0 or 3-1 as he is with two strikes.
"My goal every at-bat is not to go deep in the count or look for pitches per at-bat," Semien said. "It just kind of happens like that. I'm pretty selective early in the count. I want to get the pitch I want to swing at. It can go against me some time.
"If it's a guy who won't really give into you, we face a lot of guys like that. A lot of guys on Kansas City, they don't give in. [Catcher] Salvador Perez calling pitches, he won't give in to you. So it depends on who you are facing. You have to pick and choose spots."
Alexei homers to push hitting streak to 15 games
CHICAGO -- Given the length of the White Sox 6-4, 14-inning loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night, it's easy to forget history was made in the sixth inning.
Alexei Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-run homer to left off starter Clay Buchholz, tying him with Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for the longest hitting streak to start a season in franchise history.
"First of all, I wasn't even aware of that," Ramirez said. "I'm thankful it happened, but I wasn't even thinking about it. I was more concentrating on the game than anything else."
Steverson taking success in stride
CHICAGO -- The White Sox entered Wednesday's contest leading the Major Leagues in runs per game (5.86) and ranked No. 1 in the American League in average (.276), OPS (.803), slugging percentage (.450) and on-base percentage (.353). They also stood second with 19 home runs.
Hitting coach Todd Steverson is not solely responsible for the turnaround. After all, the offense does feature new players such as Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, not to mention a rejuvenated Alexei Ramirez. But there's no question Steverson's influence has been felt.
"He is demanding that you compete. That you fight," executive vice president Ken Williams said of Steverson. "That you do not waste, we have 27 outs to win this game offensively, don't waste a single out.
"So you got to give Todd Steverson a lot of credit for that. And like I said, as well as [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and his guys bringing the talent in to execute."
Steverson isn't getting overly giddy through results based on 14 games, but he believes the current success can help the White Sox hitters when times get tougher.
"To be honest with you, you are happy that this happens, because you see the results of that type of attitude and that type of determination to make every out worth your while," Steverson said. "The season is ups and downs and over 162, so you have to remember what it was like. If you were never there, you can't remember what it was like.
"At least we are in a place where we can say, 'Hey, remember when' if anything goes south, which [will happen]. It's baseball. Something is bound to hit a rough patch."
Konerko handling life in reserve
CHICAGO -- Count Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski as another person happy to see Paul Konerko, his friend and teammate of eight seasons, go out on his own terms. It's just strange for Pierzynski to see the White Sox captain with only one start and eight at-bats entering Wednesday.
"That's the Paul I know and the Paul I played with and that's the Paul I think most people remember," said Pierzynski of Konerko, the everyday stalwart. "But to look up and not see him in the lineup, look at the lineup today and no Konerko, it's still odd to me.
"Normally right now he would have 30 or 40 at-bats and a couple of homers and a bunch of RBIs and no stolen bases. Paul knew what he was getting himself into coming in. We talked this offseason a bunch of times about what he should do, and I told him absolutely he should come back.
"He deserves to come back, not only for himself but to enjoy one year," Pierzynski said. "If they aren't going to give him the opportunity to play, then heck, he can enjoy it a little bit more. It's a lot more relaxing if he knows he's not playing every day."
Manager Robin Ventura smiled and said there was nothing he had to talk with Konerko about in regard to being a captain, because "he's pretty good at it." Konerko is learning the part-time playing situation as he goes.
"It is an adjustment," Ventura said. "He's kind of playing along with the game trying to figure out when it's going to be the spot when you're going to ask him to go in. As far as in-game stuff, he knows the situations he'll be in there and he was prepared for them."
Ventura mentioned that Konerko would have pinch-hit for Conor Gillaspie in the ninth inning Tuesday night against Chris Capuano if not for the game-ending error. Konerko was ready to hit, just as he'll be ready to start Thursday in the series finale against Jon Lester.
Third to first
• Nate Jones' lower back soreness, which placed him on the disabled list on April 4, has not improved enough for the right-handed reliever to start baseball activities.
"No. He continues to get treatment and things like that, but there isn't a timetable on any of that until he's out throwing," said Ventura of Jones. "He continues to be in there with [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] treating it."
• Eaton doesn't believe his White Sox team has figured out different ways to win, as much as they know no deficit is out of reach.
"Just knowing that you're never out of a ballgame and to continue to compete every single pitch and not worry about the score," Eaton said. "Just continue to work and continue to chip away with leads or late in the game, or doing the small things right late in the game.
"I think us being able to do it this early can only improve how we do the rest of the season. It's good that it's shown up early, but we can use these types of games later in the year for sure."
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tuesday's victory marked the second time in the past 22 years that the White Sox have scored two runs or less in a win over Boston. The only other occurrence since 1992 came on May 22, 2002, when Jon Garland (8 IP) and Keith Foulke (1 IP) combined on a three-hit shutout at Fenway Park.
• Chris Beck threw a complete-game shutout for Double-A Birmingham in the doubleheader opener at Mobile on Tuesday, allowing three hits with no walks over seven innings. Designated hitter Tyler Wiliams had three hits and two RBIs in Class Kannapolis' 4-3 victory over Hickory Wednesday, raising his average to .371 in 35 at-bats.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.