CHICAGO -- Bartolo Colon was confident Saturday and he showed the White Sox why.
Colon pitched six strong innings and Carlos Quentin homered, leading Chicago to an 8-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins.After a rough spring training, Colon handled the Twins' lineup with relative ease. He allowed just three hits with two walks and two strikeouts, helping the White Sox end a three-game skid."I think that today he was a little pumped up. Like a little bit more excited about the game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The funny thing, this morning when he walked to the clubhouse he told [third base coach] Joey Cora, 'Bet on me today.' And that's nice to hear and he backed it up."Colon (1-0) is back with Chicago after going 15-13 in 2003 with a 3.87 ERA. He went on to win the 2005 AL Cy Young Award as a member of the Angels, but has made just 35 starts since because of injuries.The White Sox took a chance on Colon in the offseason by signing him to a one-year, $1 million deal after he was limited to seven starts with Boston last season because of back trouble.The burly right-hander, who had a 9.90 ERA in spring training, set down the side in order in the sixth and walked off to applause from the crowd of 33,935."He knows how to pitch. He's a pitcher. He's been around a long time, he knows he doesn't have to throw 96, 97 [mph] to get guys out," said catcher Corky Miller, who had two hits and two RBIs.Wilson Betemit hit a two-out double in the fourth off Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano, and Alexei Ramirez snapped an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single to put Chicago ahead.After taking the loss in Minnesota's opener against Seattle on Monday, Liriano couldn't get through the fifth inning. He walked in a run with four straight balls to Jermaine Dye, then walked Paul Konerko with the bases loaded to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead.Quentin scored on Betemit's fielder's choice, and Ramirez chased Liriano with another RBI single to make it 5-0."Liriano was all around the plate. He had the one inning where it didn't go his way and he was just missing. Close pitches and he ended up walking a few guys. Just not a good day for him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.Liriano (0-2) was tagged for five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings on a cold spring day. He struck out three and walked four."I wasn't cold at all. I couldn't throw strikes. I was feeling all right. I think he squeezed me a little bit, the umpire," Liriano said.After batting around in the fifth inning, the White Sox did it again in the seventh. Quentin homered for the second straight game off Twins reliever Philip Humber, and Miller, who was giving catcher A.J. Pierzynski a rest, hit a two-run single to make it 8-0.It was Miller's first multihit game since Sept. 13, 2003, with Cincinnati against the Chicago Cubs."He's been great all spring. One of the biggest reasons why we kept him is because he's handled the pitching staff real well," Guillen said. "He's a veteran player, he swings the bat pretty good. You're going to see him get a lot of action because I'm going to give A.J. more days off than in the past."Dye robbed Jason Kubel of extra bases when he made a running catch at the right-field fence in the second.
Twins C Joe Mauer is scheduled to begin a running program early next week, Gardenhire said. Gardenhire added that Mauer is attempting to speed up his recovery schedule but team doctors are holding him back. "Everything has gone really good. Catching, bullpens and hitting on the field," Gardenhire said. "He feels great. He wants to push the envelope. He wants to go." The team has declined to give a timetable for the two-time All-Star's return.