White Sox

Matt Davidson, so hot right now, slugs White Sox to victory

Matt Davidson, so hot right now, slugs White Sox to victory

Matt Davidson’s bat is so hot that the White Sox still had plenty even after Avisail Garcia’s ejection on Thursday afternoon.

Davidson homered for the fourth game in a row and also jump-started the game-winning rally as the White Sox downed the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The leadoff homer blasted by Davidson in the fourth inning made him the first White Sox player to homer in four straight games since Alex Rios from April 5-9, 2013. Garcia and manager Rick Renteria were ejected in the bottom of the fifth inning by first-base ump Paul Emmel after arguing about a checked swing.

“He’s been outstanding,” Renteria said. “He’s obviously been able to drive the ball out of the ballpark. He’s been able to get to pitches he can handle.  

“He’s been just trying to stay in a particular zone and we’re glad that he’s been able to do what he’s can do. It’s something the whole organization has been hoping he’d be capable of doing and he’s showing signs that he obviously can do it.”

Having already given the White Sox a 1-0 lead earlier with a 404-foot drive to left, Davidson wasn’t done. With the score tied at 1, Davidson sparked a sixth-inning rally with a leadoff double to left off Baltimore starter Chris Tillman. Tillman walked Yolmer Sanchez and Kevan Smith picked up his third hit and loaded the bases when the Orioles misplayed his sac bunt attempt.

Melky Cabrera ended Tillman’s day with a one-out, two-run single to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Reliever Jimmy Yacabonis walked the first two batters he faced (Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu), the latter forcing in a run. After taking over for Avisail Garcia in the top of the sixth, Leury Garcia’s sac fly gave the White Sox a 5-1 lead.

Davidson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. He went 7-for-15 with four home runs and eight RBIs in the series. Davidson is one shy of tying the team record for most consecutive games with a homer, a feat accomplished seven times by six players. AJ Pierzynski was the last White Sox player to homer in five straight gaames in 2012.

His current run comes days after he wrapped up an 0-for-13 stretch with nine strikeouts. Looking to get going, Davidson followed Todd Frazier into the bullpen and stood in --- without swinging --- against White Sox pitchers during their practice sessions to better see pitches.

Frazier credited the practice for his hot June and suggested Davidson would soon heat up. Davidson thinks it helped as well.

“That’s something that has always kind of been out there,” Davidson said. “If you’re not seeing it really well to go in and try to get a little more game-like reps just because (batting practice) and flips and stuff in the cage doesn’t really translate over to the game. We’ve got some really good arms. Standing in on some of those guys kind of makes you relaxed and makes you realize it’s the same thing you’re going to see that night.”

Avisail Garcia’s ejection is the only thing to slow him down recently. The right fielder had singled in his first two trips, giving him eight hits in 15 at-bats in the series with six RBIs. Garcia fell behind Tillman in the count 0-2 in the fifth inning and tried to check his swing on a slider in the dirt. Emmel ruled Garcia went around and he threw his arms up as he walked toward the dugout before turning back and glaring at the umpire, pointing his fingers at his own eyes as if to suggest he was watching Emmel. That move led to Garcia’s ejection (the first of his career) and Renteria raced out of the dugout to express his displeasure. Renteria was ejected for the second time this season and eighth in his career.

White Sox starter David Holmberg, who delivered 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball before handing it over to the bullpen, thought Renteria’s ejection fired up the White Sox. A former minor league teammate of Davidson’s with Arizona, Holmberg said his teammate’s performance has some familiarity to it.

“Pretty impressive, pretty impressive,” Holmberg said. “I played with Matt back in the day, all the way back in 2011 and I've seen him go on runs like this and it's fun to watch up here.”

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

Perhaps a better question for White Sox fans: When’s Manny Machado coming to the South Side? (Better question from me, personally, is when Chicago might acquire Maryland's greatest creation: the crab pretzel. Had in College Park last summer. It's amazing.)

Whether that ends up happening or not is a question for next offseason, but that query is one that plenty of South Side baseball fans on social media have asked for years now. Machado, mentioned in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings in December, is most likely entering his final season as an Oriole. His contract is up at season’s end, and he’s expected to land a gargantuan deal next offseason.

The funny thing is that for all the hullabaloo over the 25-year-old infielder, he’s coming off his worst statistical campaign as a big leaguer. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.782, all three of those percentages seeing huge dropoffs after a sensational 2016 campaign a year prior. His power numbers stayed relatively consistent, but his run and hit totals plummeted as the O’s weren’t quite as a competitive as in years past.

Now, Machado is likely still cruising for a big contract regardless of what he does in 2018. He’s moving to shortstop, which will be interesting. But he’s young enough that even another season like last year won’t make too big a difference, considering how good he’s been throughout his career.

That’s who White Sox fans will be watching whenever their gaze falls on the Baltimore baseball club. (They won’t be alone, by the way, and some contending teams might even try to add him at the trade deadline.) But the O’s are making news for other reasons, recent reasons, in fact.

The biggest name left on the free-agent market finally signed this week, and now the Orioles have a big-time addition to their starting rotation. Unlike Jake Arrieta, it appears Alex Cobb’s waiting game paid off in the form of dollars, years and a no-trade clause. How nice for him. It’s also nice for the O’s, who get to add a guy to a low-key decent starting staff.

Cobb, who had a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season, might not be ready to rock for the start of the regular season considering he didn’t ink a deal until a week out from Opening Day — bet he’s good at staring contests, too — but the trio of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner (another new addition) and Kevin Gausman will be ready, and all those guys are coming off a solid-enough 2017. Bundy had a couple good stretches, posting a 3.03 ERA over his first 13 starts and then a 2.00 ERA in the month of August. Gausman had a 3.31 ERA over his final 18 starts. Cashner, another free-agent signing, had a 3.40 ERA with the Texas Rangers.

So while the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and the better-than-Machado-last-year Jonathan Schoop still make the O’s an offensive threat in a hard-to-win AL East, the starting pitching might be where the magic is this time around.

2017 record: 75-87, fifth place in AL East

Offseason additions: Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Colby Rasmus, Alex Presley, Pedro Araujo, Joely Rodriguez, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Offseason departures: Welington Castillo, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Seth Smith, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley

X-factor: I said it just above, and I'll say it again: Jonathan Schoop was better than Manny Machado last season. Schoop made the All-Star team and finished with 32 homers, 105 RBIs and a .293/.338/.503 slash line. His .841 OPS was one of the best 50 in the game. Should we expect Schoop to be the best middle infielder on the O's in 2018, too? Maybe that's a little extreme, but hey, good to have this guy.

Projected lineup:

1. Tim Beckham, 3B
2. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
3. Manny Machado, SS
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Trey Mancini, DH
7. Colby Rasmus, RF
8. Caleb Joseph, C
9. Alex Presley, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Dylan Bundy
2. Andrew Cashner
3. Kevin Gausman
4. Chris Tillman
5. Mike Wright Jr.

Prediction: Third place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers

Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season


Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season

Rick Renteria's starting rotation isn't exactly official for the start of the season, but it's about as close as it can be.

Maybe "unofficially official" is the best way to go?

The South Side skipper agreed with the assessment of reporters Wednesday in Arizona, saying that an order of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer "sounds right."

Shields was already announced as the White Sox starter for the season opener next Thursday in Kansas City. That wasn't much of a surprise considering Shields' veteran status in this rotation.

Giolito, who made seven starts at the end of last season and looked mighty good doing it, might be the best starting pitcher on the team going into the season. He posted a 2.38 ERA in those games, with many fans hoping he would have been the one to take on the Royals in the opener. It sounds like he'll likely pitch two days later in Game 2 against the Crowns.

Lopez made eight starts at the end of last season, turning in a 4.72 ERA in those starts. He's another former highly touted prospect who will get a full season to continue his development at the major league level.

Gonzalez was brought back this winter after being traded away from the South Side last summer to bring another veteran mentor type to help along these young pitchers. He had a 4.31 ERA before the trade to the Texas Rangers after a 3.73 ERA in a full season with the White Sox in 2016.

Fulmer is another young arm who will be looking to earn a spot in the crowded rotation of the future this season. He's had a rough spring — though turned in his best start of the spring earlier this week — but he'll be given every opportunity to prove he can succeed as a big league starting pitcher after showing some promise at the end of last season.

Those first three guys will face off against the Royals on the season's opening weekend. Gonzalez and Fulmer are expected to make their first starts of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada.