CHICAGO (AP) -- Jose Contreras became a different pitcher halfway
through last season. Since that dramatic turnaround, brought about
when he changed arm angles and starting throwing strikes, few
pitchers in baseball have been better.
Contreras and two relievers combined for a one-hitter Monday
night, sending the struggling Kansas City Royals to their eighth
straight loss as the Chicago White Sox scored five in the first and
posted a 9-0 win.
"Since halfway through last year this guy has probably been the
best pitcher in the major leagues," Chicago's Paul Konerko said of
Contreras. "I don't think anyone's been better. I'm just glad I
don't have to face him. He's nasty. On a cold night, you give him
some runs to work with and he's going to be tough."
Contreras was 11-2 in the second half a year ago and won his
final eight starts to get the White Sox into the postseason. He was
3-1 in the playoffs and the Game 1 starter in all three of
Now, he's at it again.
Contreras (2-0), 6-0 in his career against Kansas City, retired
the first 10 batters before Mark Grudzielanek doubled past third
base with one out in the fourth for what turned out to be the
Royals' lone hit.
"That's the first time I've seen him and I was very
impressed," Grudzielanek said. "That was the only chance I really
had to get something out over the plate and hit. ... He's got great
Contreras walked one and struck out six in seven strong innings
on a cool 48-degree night. Boone Logan and Cliff Politte completed
the shutout with one inning each.
"It was one of those games where you almost feel you should
have seen a no-hitter. He had that kind of stuff," said Konerko,
who homered in the first as did teammate Joe Crede. "He was coming
right at them."
Contreras had no problems being lifted after throwing 101
pitches, saying he was satisfied with his seven-inning outing.
He's just a changed pitcher since the White Sox acquired him
from the Yankees on July 31, 2004.
"Throwing from the side has allowed me to find the strike
zone," he said through a translator. "My confidence level is
completely different than it was two years ago."
Chicago, which has won seven of its last eight, jumped on Joe
Mays (0-2) early. Tadahito Iguchi singled, Jim Thome walked and
after a high-and-tight pitch from Mays brushed him back, Konerko
hit a three-run homer to left, his fifth of the season.
Mays seemed to settle down after the rough first before the
White Sox revved it up again in the fifth when Scott Podsednik hit
a leadoff double, Iguchi singled, Thome had an RBI single and
Konerko delivered an RBI double. Podsednik's RBI single finished
Mays in the sixth and gave Chicago an 8-0 cushion.
In his longest outing of the season, Mays lasted 5 1/3 innings,
giving up 11 hits and eight runs -- six earned.
"For his sake and our sake, I hope he [Mays] got some sort of
feel for what he needs to do," Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
The Royals still do not have a victory by a starting pitcher
this season (0-7). Kansas City's only two wins came over the White
Sox on April 7-8 and the Royals haven't tasted victory since.
Konerko has 13 RBI during a seven-game hitting streak. He's
homered four times in the last four games.
The White Sox's last combined one-hitter came on May
25, 1979 against California when Ross Baumgarten went eight innings
and Randy Scarbery one. ... Contreras allowed the Royals just two
hits over eight innings on Oct. 3, 2004. ... Before the game, the
Royals recalled RHP Joel Peralta from Triple-A Omaha and put RHP
Steve Stemle on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right
elbow. Peralta relieved Mays in the sixth. ...Chicago rookie CF
Brian Anderson snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a second-inning single
and then struck out three straight times.