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Rookies Johnson, Garcia, Semien help Sox forget debacle



The facts: 7:10 p.m., CSN+, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The pitchers: J.A. Happ (4-6, 4.82 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (8-6, 3.49).

Updated: September 23, 2013 12:46AM

DETROIT — After Saturday’s loss for the ages, all you can do is look ahead and hope for the best.

A 6-3 victory against the Detroit Tigers before 41,749 fans who came to Comerica Park hoping to see their team clinch the American League Central title helped the White Sox (61-94) bury the immediate past and peer into the future with some measure of hope.

Rookie righty Erik Johnson, a good bet to make the 2014 starting rotation out of spring training, improved to 2-2 with a 2.82 ERA after allowing two runs in 62/3 innings. Rookie Avisail Garcia, batting cleanup with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko taking a Sunday off, had three singles and two RBI and made a diving catch in right. And rookie Marcus Semien started a three-run inning with a single and stolen base.

All in all, gratifying days for three young’uns whose arrows seem to be pointing up. Johnson, who has allowed three, two, zero and two earned runs in four starts since his call-up from Class AAA, gave up nine hits to a lineup without Miguel Cabrera (whose groin has become a concern for manager Jim Leyland). But he didn’t walk a batter the day after Sox pitchers walked eight.

“He just kind of stayed out of trouble, and when he needed a pitch, he made it,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s pretty good composure for a kid as young [23] as him.’’

Johnson said he has learned something in each of his four starts, beginning with his first at Yankee Stadium. “It’s an awesome opportunity and awesome experience I’m getting,’’ he said.

Garcia, 22, who missed four games before this series after becoming a father for the first time, continues to make the Jake Peavy trade look like a winner for general manager Rick Hahn. He’s batting .375 with two homers, two triples and 12 RBI in his last 16 games.

“With a pitcher like [Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez], you don’t want to try to do too much because he has a lot of nasty pitches and will get you out,’’ said Garcia, who played for Detroit in the World Series last season.

In the Sox’ 7-6 loss in 12 innings Saturday, in which they lost for the first time in club history after leading by six runs in the ninth inning, Semien handled everything that came his way at shortstop and made all the right decisions in a noisy, charged environment.

“He looked comfortable enough that you can trust him being out there,’’ Ventura said.

On Sunday, Semien was back at third, where he has made nine starts since getting called up from the minor leagues. He started once at second base as the Sox evaluate what they have in their Class AA Southern League Most Valuable Player.

“He’s very sound, and he’s a confident kid,’’ third-base coach Joe McEwing said. “He wants the information; he wants to learn every single day. He asks all the right questions. It’s refreshing to see.’’

The Sox like what they see of his low-maintenence swing, too.

“He’s not a wild swinger; he’s pretty controlled,” Ventura said. “It looks the same all the time, whether he’s going to right field or left field. It’s simple, not a lot of movement.’’

The Sox have seven games to go.

“Play hard, with your heart and finish strong,’’ Garcia said. “Work hard in the offseason and see what happens next season.’’

NOTES: Dayan Viciedo is expected back Monday after missing the series on paternity leave.

†  Starters for Tuesday and Wednesday in Cleveland are undecided, depending on Andre Rienzo’s blister on his pitching hand. Hector Santiago, who threw a 55-pitch bullpen session Friday, is a possibility.


Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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