White Sox

Similar story, same ending: White Sox lose to Tigers in extras


Similar story, same ending: White Sox lose to Tigers in extras

It was a similar story for the White Sox against the Detroit Tigers on Labor Day and it had the same ending.

Chris Sale pitched great again but the White Sox didn’t have the offense to support him in their 5-3 loss to the Tigers in 11 innings on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 18,653 fans.

Tigers outfielder Justin Upton hit the game-winning three-run homer off White Sox reliever Chris Beck in the 11th. The White Sox are now 65-72 on the year with 25 games left and have dropped their last four games against the Tigers.

In eight innings, Sale allowed two earned runs and two solo homers on eight hits while fanning eight batters. He lowered his season ERA to 3.07 and has 193 strikeouts, seven shy of a fourth straight season with 200+ strikeouts.

"I felt good today," Sale said. "Like I always say, I get out there and try to find a groove and roll with it. I credit Alex on that one. Had a good tempo, good pace and he knows those guys better than anybody. Going into a game like this you're confident with what you're doing."

Miguel Cabrera got the best of the White Sox ace, who recorded a no decision.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Cabrera opened the scoring with two solo homers in the first and third inning to put the Tigers up 2-0. It was career home runs No. 300 and 301 for Cabrera in a Tigers uniform. He capped off the day going 4-of-5, adding two singles.

Sale said that the Tigers slugger is "one of the best" hitters he's ever faced.

"You can't deny that," Sale said. "Look on the back of that card and there's pretty awesome numbers. It was back and forth. I enjoy that. I enjoy the competition. I know next time he's going to try to do the same thing and I'm going to be be trying to get after him. Would I rather not given up two home runs and all that stuff? Yeah, no doubt. But it makes for good competition."

The White Sox cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third from an RBI single by Tyler Saladino. Saladino is batting .286 with five doubles, two homers and 11 RBI in his last 18 games.

Justin Verlander had it going on right from the get-go, striking out five of the first seven White Sox batters. The Tigers starter finished the day with 11 strikeouts, tying his season high, in seven innings on eight hits. He had nine strikeouts in last week’s contest against the White Sox in Detroit.

In the seventh, Alex Avila led off the inning with a solo shot to left-center field, which knotted the game at 2. Two of Avila’s six homers this season has come against the Tigers.

"I wasn’t trying to hit a home run," Avila said. "(Verlander) just missed his location. He was trying to go away and it was more middle. With him he’s so tough because this year with as hard as he’s been throwing he’s been able to live at the top of the zone with the fastball. It’s kind of riding on you and it’s tough to gauge which one is a strike or not. A lot of times it depends on the umpire. Depending on the umpire you can have a tough day out there, plus with a three o’clock game you can’t see for six innings.

"With him you have to make sure he is down and when you get it down in the zone don’t miss it."

Nate Jones relieved Sale in the ninth and pitched a no-hit scoreless inning with three strikeouts. David Robertson also threw a scoreless tenth with a strikeout and no hits.

The damage happened in the 11th, where Beck was roughed up. Upton’s three-run homer sealed the win for the Tigers.

"I think (Beck) got the ground ball double play and then he was just probably being real careful with the next two guys," Ventura said. "Those guys have done some damage in the past and I think at that point it just seemed like he was being real careful. Then Upton gets him with the big one that really wins it for them."

Beck suffered his first loss since his major-league debut on May 28, 2015 in Baltimore.

Avisail Garcia, who went 3-for-5, tacked on a run with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. Monday was Garcia's 23rd multi-hit game of the season and fourth three-plus hit game. He is also batting .327 with four home runs and nine RBI in his last 15 games against the Tigers.

The White Sox are 5-12 against the Tigers this season and have been outscored 97-70.

White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter


White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter

The White Sox have announced who will toe the rubber when the season begins later this month.

As expected, James Shields will be the team's Opening Day starting pitcher when the White Sox kick off the 2018 campaign against the Kansas City Royals on March 29 at Kauffman Stadium.

The starting rotation's elder statesman at 36, Shields seemed the logical pick for the first start of the season.

It's been a rough go for the one-time All Star since he came to the South Side in a trade with the San Diego Padres in the summer of 2016. In two seasons with the White Sox, he's got a 5.99 ERA with 181 strikeouts and 58 home runs allowed in 231.1 innings. Last season, he made 21 starts, finishing with a 5.23 ERA and 103 strikeouts and 27 home runs allowed in 117 innings.

While that trade still smarts considering the player the White Sox gave up, Fernando Tatis Jr., is currently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in baseball, Shields brings plenty of value to the 2018 rotation as a veteran mentor for young major leaguers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, as well as pitchers making their way to the big leagues like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dylan Cease.

If Shields could rediscover some of the magic that made him a great pitcher during his best years with the Tampa Bay Rays and the aforementioned Royals, with whom he made World Series trips in 2008 and 2014, respectively, and have a strong couple months out of the chute, he could provide Rick Hahn's front office with a midseason trade piece, someone who could potentially fetch a prospect or two that could help advance the franchise's rebuilding efforts.

The Royals have announced that it will be Danny Duffy opposing Shields on Opening Day.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants