KANSAS CITY -- The White Sox bullpen may have never been more valuable than it is right now.
With the White Sox coming off an 11-game winning streak and winning 12 of their last 15 games, the bullpen is heating up at just the right time.
"Now, it's even more important for the bullpen to pitch well because we're in a position where we need them to nail down games," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Before, it was just them filling out innings. Now, we seem to be winning, so their game becomes even more important."
The bullpen has answered that call as it is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 37 strikeouts in the past 19 games entering Wednesday's finale against the Royals, converting all 11 save opportunities. During Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Royals however, the bullpen endured a rough night. Randy Williams and Tony Pena combined to give up four earned runs on four hits without retiring a batter before Erick Threets and Scott Linebrink each tallied a scoreless inning.
After struggling early, the bullpen has settled down nicely. Cooper said he believes his 'pen has been good all along.
"I think they've been good all year, but when you have bullpen guys taking the ball 30, 40 and up to 70, 80 times a year, you're going to have bad outings, but the bullpen has been a strength of ours," Cooper said.
Cooper pointed to Tuesday night's game against Kansas City when the bullpen held a one-run lead without closer Bobby Jenks.
"Last night was a perfect example, we were able to hold things down without having out closer, and we've done that for almost a week now," Cooper said.
Consistency from rotation key to success
KANSAS CITY -- Coming into the 2010 season, no aspect of the White Sox was talked about more than the starting rotation.
After trading for the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner, Jake Peavy, at midseason last year, and re-acquiring veteran pitcher Freddy Garcia in the offseason, it was thought the rotation would carry the White Sox through the season.
Early struggles by the rotation and poor offensive production put the White Sox in a hole in the American League Central as they were 9 1/2 games out of first place on June 9.
Since then, the White Sox went on an 11-game winning streak including winning five series in a row before dropping two of three to the Royals. Manager Ozzie Guillen credited his pitching staff for the team's resurgence.
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper knows where the change came from.
"More consistency with strikes, more consistency with getting the first guy out," Cooper said. "Now, they're putting it all together. We had starts from every one of those guys that were good, and each one of the guys had very poor starts, but now it's more consistent."
When a pitching staff is as highly touted as this one, oftentimes there can be extra pressure added, but Cooper doesn't think that affected his staff.
"I don't buy into all that stuff," Cooper said. "People were saying how good this was, or that was. That's all preseason stuff.
"People ask me if this is like the 2005 pitching staff, and I laugh. You have to accomplish a world championship before you can say that."
Cooper said for the White Sox success to continue, it will be the pitching staff that carries them.
"We've always said that pitching is going to be the backbone of the Chicago White Sox and be the thing that literally takes us to the White House," he said. "It's a huge responsibility, but it's one we've handled well."
Beckham figuring things out
KANSAS CITY -- After Gordon Beckham was selected with the eighth pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, he played in only 59 games in the Minor Leagues before arriving in Chicago.
For a young player like Gordon, it often takes more than just two full months of playing in the Minors to adjust to the speed of professional baseball. Gordon, however, has had to work out his kinks on the biggest stage.
"The way that it worked out with me, it was just a quicker route," Gordon said. "They felt like I was ready. I think the struggles I've had have been more of just me figuring out who I am and what my swing is."
Gordon said he feels he is beginning to come out of his slump. He was hitting .207 with 20 RBIs through 69 games entering play Wednesday, including two hits in Tuesday night's win over the Royals.
"It's always nice to get hits," he said. "When you've had struggles in the past and you have a lot of struggles underneath you, it's good to have a couple hits. Hopefully it'll lead to more."
Beckham believes that in hindsight, this year will turn out to be beneficial for him.
"After this year is over, I think I'll look back and say, 'That year was really the year that I figured out how to do it," he said. "It think it's ultimately going to help me out in my career."
Vizquel second on shortstop hits list
KANSAS CITY -- With his triple in the fourth inning during Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Royals, White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel passed Luis Aparicio for second on the all-time hit list for a shortstop.
Vizquel's triple was his 2,675th hit as a shortstop and he trails Derek Jeter, who began play Wednesday with 2,839.
Coincidentally Vizquel wears No. 11, the same number retired by the White Sox in honor of Aparicio. Vizquel received permission from Aparicio to bring the number out of retirement before the 2010 season.
Vizquel also tied Goose Goslin for 52nd place on the all-time hit list. Goslin played from 1921-38.
Guillen likes club ... for now
KANSAS CITY -- With the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline a month away, the rumor mill is in full circle.
Speculation that the White Sox are interested in Washington first baseman Adam Dunn has circulated over the past few days, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen trusts that management will do what it needs to do for his team to compete.
"If we need something badly, I don't have any doubt that they're going to try and do it," he said. "If they're actually going to do it, I don't know, but they're going to try."
As for now, Guillen likes his ballclub.
"Right now, I don't think it's necessary to do something," Guillen said. "If we desperately needed it? Then, of course. [General manager] Kenny [Williams] wants to win, [White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] wants to win and I want to win."
Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.