Tyler Flowers powers White Sox past Astros
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media July 19, 2014 9:50PM
Chicago White Sox starter Hector Noesi delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Chicago, Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: July 19, 2014 11:23PM
Paul Konerko was asked before the game Saturday about how different things would be for the White Sox if they hadn’t signed Jose Abreu last fall. Abreu was courted by many suitors, including the Astros, who were willing to invest tens of millions in a rookie who had never played pro baseball.
But, as Konerko pointed out, as great as Abreu’s impact has been, a team needs more than a high-impact slugger to win games. And the Sox’ 4-3 victory against the Astros proved that.
“There’s definitely been a lot of games he’s single-handedly put us in the driver’s seat or come up with a big home run,” Konerko said. “Having said that, there’s a lot of teams out there that want offense that don’t win. So you look at some of the teams we’ve had here over the years with Frank [Thomas] and Magglio [Ordonez], it’s kind of a known thing that that’s not enough. You need more than that.
“But there’s definitely a lot of games that I can think of with them where they factored in not only with the driving in of runs, but with getting on base and scoring the other ones.”
Abreu went 1-for-5, and his hit gave him at least one in 28 of the last 29 games and 10 in a row, but this wasn’t one of those nights when he carried the Sox. He remained stuck on 29 home runs, and his slugging percentage dipped slightly to .624, both categories he led the majors in entering play.
Instead, it was Tyler Flowers’ three hits, including a double in the fifth that gave the Sox the 4-3 lead, that carried the offense. Hector Noesi pitched six solid innings for his fourth win. And the much-maligned bullpen threw three more scoreless innings, including two from Ronald Belisario. Zach Putnam picked up a one-out save after striking out Jason Castro with runners on first and second to end the game.
“Awesome,” Noesi said of the bullpen.
That bullpen hasn’t been awesome, and even with those three hits, Flowers is hitting only .229. But the relievers and players such as Flowers will have to contribute on nights when Abreu is held in check for the Sox to stay in contention in the division and wild-card races.
That has happened in the first two games after the All-Star break, and the Sox have two victories to show for it.
“You never know what happens,” manager Robin Ventura said of Flowers, who has four hits in the first two games after the break. “I don’t know where he went over the break, but you can come back with renewed energy.”
Maybe that will be true of the entire team, which staggered into the break with four losses in its last five games to fall six below .500.
“Well, I don’t know if I’m quite locked in yet,’’ Flowers said. ‘‘Good to put some quality at-bats together. I got some pitches I was able to handle and got some good results out of it. Those could’ve been 0-for-3 with three good at-bats, but fortunately they found the holes and got the job done in those situations.
“Really nothing major, just trying to learn how to trust myself, those kind of things — the kind of things that slip away from hitters all the time. It just took a little while to get a grasp back on that.”
NOTE: The Sox optioned infielder Carlos Sanchez to Class AAA Charlotte after the game. They will make a corresponding move Sunday.