White Sox

Chris Sale, White Sox rebound from rough start to down Twins

Chris Sale, White Sox rebound from rough start to down Twins

Chris Sale and the White Sox offense both woke up after a painful start on Saturday night.

Sale survived a potentially disastrous first inning and the offense provided more seventh inning magic as the White Sox downed the Minnesota Twins 7-2 in front of 28,049 at U.S. Cellular Field. After he walked a batter with the bases loaded and hit another in a wild first inning, Sale retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced to improve to 7-0.

Todd Frazier made two great defensive plays, homered and doubled in a run for the White Sox, who improved to 21-10 and clinched their sixth series win in 10 this season. Jose Quintana pitches Sunday as the White Sox look to close out a sweep of the Twins.

“It was a very odd first inning for him, definitely,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think a team that's kind of had your number somewhat, he was up there velocity-wise, too. I think he was overthrowing it, definitely overthrowing the slider. But I think he finally got into a groove and we were able to score some runs for him. But that's the first time I've seen him like that where he's really overthrowing.

“It's nice to see him calm down and get through it.”

Sale (7-0) suggested Friday he had Minnesota, against whom he went 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA last season, circled on his calendar.

He looked like it, too.

Sale hit 97 mph on a strikeout of Darin Mastroianni to start the game before he began to struggle with command.

After he surrendered two, two-out hits, including Trevor Plouffe’s ground-rule double, Sale hit Byung Ho Park with a pitch to load the bases. Oswaldo Arcia gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with a five-pitch walk and Sale hit Jorge Polanco to force in another run.

Only after a mound visit did Sale escape the bases-loaded jam on a Kurt Suzuki grounder.

But he never looked back.

Sale, who threw 36 first-inning pitches, needed only 10 in the second to retire the side in order, something he did five times. Sale was flawless the rest of the way save for a one-out Polanco double in the fourth. He struck out the side in the fifth inning and had eight whiffs over his last six innings.

Sale was so good that Ventura brought him back for the seventh inning, even though he was at 106 pitches. He threw strikes on 74 of 120 pitches and limited the Twins to three hits, a walk and two hit batsmen in seven innings.

“He works fast so it makes us into the game a lot more so when we can get to balls or make those plays when we need them,” Frazier said. “So even though that first inning was a little weird, a little hectic, he came back, he settled down and we came through there as hitters.”

Sale joined Eddie Cicotte, John Whitehead, Jack McDowell and Jon Garland as the only pitchers in franchise history to win their first seven starts and also is the first in the majors this season to reach the seven-win mark.

Sale wouldn’t have gotten there without his supporting cast.

A team that entered 18th in the majors with a .256 average with runners in scoring position started 1-for-8 and stranded seven runners in the first four innings, which prevented the White Sox from pulling away early.

Dioner Navarro doubled in a run in the second off Ervin Santana and Frazier’s solo homer in the third — his first hit in 20 May at-bats — evened the score. Austin Jackson also forced in a run in the fourth with a bases-loaded walk to put the White Sox ahead for good.

The White Sox finally broke it open in the seventh. Frazier had an RBI double, Brett Lawrie had an RBI single and Avisail Garcia forced in a run when he was hit by a pitch.

Abreu singled in a run in the eighth inning for the White Sox, who have outscored opponents 31-8 in the seventh inning this season.

Sale said the support from his teammates was far greater than several nice defensive plays and the late runs. They provided an emotional lift, too.

“I’m probably out of there in the fourth or fifth inning a couple of years ago,” Sale said. “You guys are talking about 7-0 — my teammates got me here. They got me through this one today. I didn’t give (Navarro) too much to work with. I had a good breaking ball today and that was about it. Fastball all over the place, changeup wasn’t there for the most part and he got me through that game and my guys won this game for us. I was just along for the ride.”

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.