04/28/2003 7:34 PM ET
Loaiza wins AL Player of the Week
Right-hander went went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Players of the Week
CHICAGO -- Esteban Loaiza did not come alone Sunday to the post-game media session in the Conference and Learning Center at U.S. Cellular Field.
After pitching seven stellar innings, striking out eight and allowing just one run, in a 3-1 victory over the Twins, Loaiza carried in his two-year-old son to talk about his fifth consecutive victory to start 2003.
"His name is Esteban Sage," said Loaiza proudly of his son, who was wearing a smaller version of his dad's jersey. "And, he's very happy right now."
Loaiza's son smiled only when his dad asked him to say 'hi' to the television cameras focused in on his dad's fifth consecutive high-quality start. But, the young Loaiza might have something to say now about his father, after he was named American League Pepsi Player of the Week for April 21 to April 27.
In starts at Baltimore on Tuesday and against Minnesota, Loaiza, 31, went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA (two earned runs in 15 1/3 innings) and 16 strikeouts. He allowed one run on four hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings pitched against the Orioles.
Signed to a minor league contract on January 24, 2003, Loaiza is 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA. He has allowed 19 hits (.151 opponents average) and five walks in 36 innings, while striking out 35. The veteran leads the American League in ERA, base runners per nine innings (6.75) and opponents average.
Loaiza is tied with the New York Yankees' Mike Mussina for the league lead in victories and ranks among the leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3rd, 7-to-1) and strikeouts (3rd).
"He's been automatic since winning a job in Spring Training," said White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas of Loaiza. "He has a good attitude about it, and he's one of those guys who has a lot of fun with the game. But, when it's his turn on the mound, he's ready to go."
Even with his huge total and three games of at least eight strikeouts, Loaiza does not consider himself a strikeout pitcher. Throwing the ball in the zone, though, has been key to his success.
"I throw a lot of strikes, and I'm getting ahead in the counts," Loaiza explained. "I pitch quickly, and I always know what I want to throw next. I don't want to give hitters a chance to think about what I'm going to throw.
"Otherwise, I'm just relaxing and pitching my game," Loaiza added.
Loaiza is the first White Sox pitcher to win five games in April since Wilson Alvarez in 1994. He is the first White Sox pitcher to win AL Player of the Week since Jack McDowell in 1993 (August 16 to 22).
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.