White Sox

Chris Sale now 9-0, White Sox end four-game losing streak with win over Astros

Chris Sale now 9-0, White Sox end four-game losing streak with win over Astros

Chris Sale has developed into a full-blown stopper.

The four-time All-Star snapped a four-game White Sox losing streak on Thursday night with a four-hit complete game in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros in front 20,096 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale struck out nine and walked none in a 107-pitch effort.

Sale’s third complete-game effort of the season earned him his ninth win in nine starts. He’s the first American League pitcher with a victory in each of his first nine games, relief appearances included, since Detroit’s George Uhle in 1929.

“He’s pretty darned good,” shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “What he’s doing hasn’t been done in an awfully long time. It’s special.”

Regardless of how things have gone, Sale has become the guy his teammates can count on. After a brilliant start, the White Sox had lost six of their last seven games. But before they left on Wednesday night, third baseman Todd Frazier asked Sale if he was pitching on Thursday. When Frazier learned the left-hander was starting, he told Sale they’d win.

“When you see a guy like that you raise your level,” Frazier said. “(As an opposing hitter) you understand that if I get that one pitch and I don’t do something with it, it’s basically game over, and that’s what he’s been doing, and it’s been lights out. … You see it in our defense and in our actions. We want to win those games.”

Just as he did last Friday in New York, Sale delivered. He was once again remarkably efficient, especially in the middle innings.

At one point, Sale retired 12 in a row after Evan Gattis singled with two outs in the second inning. He needed only eight pitches to retire the side in the fourth, 11 in the fifth and six in the sixth despite a two-out single by Jose Altuve. Sale only needed 11 pitches to breeze through the seventh inning and nine in the eighth even with a solo homer by Gattis that made it a one-run contest.

“Just not throwing so many anger pitches and not maxing out on every single pitch I throw,” Sale said. “You need quick innings. Sometimes when you pile up strikeouts, you get into 18, 19 pitch innings and if you are trying to get deep into games, it’s not going to work out too well. I’m just trying to hit my spots. Location, location, location.”

Sale blended efficiency with a few strikeouts. He moved from 10th place in franchise history in strikeouts into a tie for eighth, surpassing Doc White (1,067) and tying Ted Lyons at 1,073.

Sale struck out two batters apiece in the second, seventh and ninth innings. He blew Altuve away with a 94-mph fastball to start the ninth inning and finished the game with a called third strike of Tyler White, the third time he struck out the Houston DH.

Rollins has played behind other great pitchers on similar runs. The same goes for Sale as it did whenever Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke took the mound.

“You just really hoping to get them, really, one run because you know what it’s like on the other side when they’ve got a guy like that on the mound,” Rollins said. “One run for a guy like Chris, those good starters, can sometimes feel like four.”

The White Sox did just enough against Collin McHugh.

Todd Frazier reached on an infield single in the second, stole second base and scored on a two-out RBI single by Jerry Sands. Then they gave Sale some insurance in the seventh. Rollins had an infield single, stole second base and moved to third on another single by Sands. Alex Avila’s sac fly made it a 2-0 game.

Even though Sale gave back a run on the Gattis eighth-inning homer, he never lost control.

Sale had only thrown 93 pitches entering the ninth and didn’t flinch when George Springer singled with one out. Based on their conversation in between innings, White Sox manager Robin Ventura knew his trip to the mound to remind Sale to pay attention to Springer with two outs would be a brief one. It lasted about two seconds.

“He came out of the eighth and he just said it was his,” Ventura said. “That's what great pitchers do, they can be stoppers. I want him pitching all the time. Whether you're winning or losing, you like when he's going to the mound. For us, it was needed for him to go out and do what he did tonight.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”