White Sox

No support for Chris Sale as White Sox fall to Red Sox

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No support for Chris Sale as White Sox fall to Red Sox

Chris Sale was fantastic again on Wednesday night.

His offense was not.

The White Sox couldn’t keep pace against Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox. Porcello and two relievers combined on a six-hitter and Travis Shaw homered off Nate Jones to send the White Sox to a 3-0 loss in front of 17,812 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale struck out seven over seven scoreless innings but didn’t factor in the decision for the White Sox, who stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Shaw blasted a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth off Jones, the first runs the reliever has allowed since he came off the disabled list.

The White Sox lost ground in the wild-card race and now trail by 5 1/ 2 games with 37 to play.

“This is definitely crunch time --- a time to get going,” Sale said. “We know what we are up against, but you know this is baseball. This is sports. This is a crazy game. Anything can happen. We aren’t giving up on the season. We definitely aren’t going to give up on ourselves or each other. This is a good group of guys. We are pulling from the same rope. Pick each other up and keep going.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Coming off 29 strikeouts in his previous two starts, Sale kept going even though he labored early against the Red Sox. He loaded the bases in the third inning and would have in the fourth as well had it not been for a pickoff of Rusney Castillo.

But Sale, who established a personal single-season high for strikeouts when he got Shaw swinging to start the fourth, pitched out of both jams andpicked up steam. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, pitching efficiently down the stretch.

Sale allowed five hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out seven in a 119-pitch effort.

Over his last four starts, Sale has a 1.59 ERA over 28 1/3 inningswith 43 strikeouts and seven walks. He’s allowed five runs (all earned) and 15 hits.

“Playing behind him is a treat,” White Sox third baseman Tyler Saladino said. “You’re watching one of the best pitchers in the game. He does his thing out there. It’s kind of like if he lets a guy get on base it does two things. It gets you going even more because maybe a weak ground ball you can get that double play for him because he does so much for us, I guess you could say. If a guy gets on base against him you’re even more ready, but at the same time he has the ability to get right back after the next guy. It’s just awesome watching him out there.”

Not as fun? Watching the White Sox struggleagainst Porcello, who brought his best stuff.

[MORE: Confidence breeds success for Trayce Thompson]

He didn’t allow a hit until Melky Cabrera hit a ground-rule double with two outs in the fourth inning. But Cabrera, who had three hits in fourat-bats, was stranded as Avisail Garcia flew out to right center.

Adam LaRoche doubled in the fifth inning and Carlos Sanchez had a one-out infield single. But Tyler Flowers flew out to shallow right and Josh Rutledge made a nice play on Tyler Saladino’s grounder to save run and strand the pair.

The White Sox also stranded two runners in the sixth inning as Garcia struck out and LaRoche flew out.

Porcello allowed five hits and struck out five over seven innings.

Robbie Ross Jr. and Junichi Tazawa each had a scoreless inning for the Red Sox.

“Any time you have Sale out there and he's throwing up zeroes, you want to scratch something across to get something going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “So yeah, that becomes frustrating.”

“We couldn't get anything going. We finally got in some situations and got someguys in scoring position but that's as sharp as we've seen him, definitely. He was matching Chris, if not bettering him.”

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.