White Sox

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers did it to the White Sox yet again.

For a third straight day, the White Sox grabbed an early lead. For a third straight day, the Tigers rallied back to win.

Tyler Collins’ pinch-hit sac fly in the bottom of the ninth inning off David Robertson sent the White Sox to a 3-2 defeat in front of 32,465 at Comerica Park. The victory completed a series sweep for the Tigers, who won eight of the teams’ nine meetings in Detroit this season. Chris Sale earned a no decision despite limiting the Tigers to two runs in eight innings.

“I don’t come here for the experience, I come here to win games and it didn’t happen,” Sale said. “It’s tough. It’s unfortunate. Ran into a little bit of bad luck there. That’s a good team. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win. Certainly did that.”

Even in their two previous losses, the White Sox looked similar to the team that on Sunday completed a 6-3 homestand by taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners.

Sale had the White Sox in the thick of things again on Wednesday as he outdueled Justin Verlander for seven innings. But shortly after Sale struck out Victor Martinez for a second straight time, J.D. Martinez managed to get enough of a 1-1 changeup to dump it into left field for a two-out, game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth.

Rookie JaCoby Jones led off the ninth inning with a double off Robertson and advanced to third on a fly out to the wall by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Collins’ fly ball to left was deep enough for Jones easily to score the winning run when Avisail Garcia bounced his throw home.

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“It’s tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We were playing pretty good baseball, but these guys have been sniffing us (out) at the end. We played fairly well early on, but with the lineup they have, it’s a pretty deep lineup that’s hard to contain.”

Sale used the double play as an effective tool early to get out of some potential trouble spots. One in the first inning erased a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler and Sale ended the second inning with a 6-4-3 off Saltalamacchia’s bat with two aboard. Sale also induced a double play to end the fourth inning after he walked Justin Upton.

Later in the game, Sale turned to his slider with great impact. After he didn’t strike out any of the first 20 hitters he faced, Sale struck out five of the next seven, including Victor Martinez to end the fifth inning with two on.

With the White Sox up 2-1, Sale nearly got out of a difficult eighth-inning jam.

Kinsler led off with a double to center and moved to third on a sac bunt. Sale struck out Victor Martinez but J.D. Martinez came through.

“With two outs already, you’re trying to make him hit your pitch and (Sale) did that,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He threw a really nice changeup off the plate away. Eighth of an inch and it’s a weak ground ball to short. Got to give them credit, he hit a good pitch as well. That was definitely tough. We’ve had two tough losses.”

Verlander was equally tough aside from a pair of fourth-inning mistakes.

Verlander continued a strong season with seven sharp innings as he limited the White Sox to three hits, walked none and struck out nine.

The White Sox jumped ahead of Verlander in the fourth inning when Jose Abreu and Avila belted back-to-back solo homers. But Verlander retired the last 10 hitters he faced and the White Sox were on their way to a third straight difficult defeat.

“I love winning, but it’s hard to hang your head when you play your ass off and so did they,” Avila said. “They happened to come out on top. We’ve had a few tough losses this year, but guys are playing hard. Just unfortunate they were able to get one extra one across.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.