White Sox

White Sox can't solve Dallas Keuchel in loss to Astros

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White Sox can't solve Dallas Keuchel in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — A lefty on the mound and no Jose Abreu is a bad recipe for the White Sox. Throw Dallas Keuchel and the season he’s had into the scenario, and the potential for ugliness increases.

The Houston Astros left-hander combined a career-high 12 strikeouts with good fortune on Saturday afternoon as the White Sox lost, 3-0, in front of 29,720 at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel, who is now 7-1 with a 1.76 earned-run average, used a live fastball to outduel Jose Quintana (2-6) and throw a four-hit shutout to even the series at one game apiece.

“He was great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t know if we faced anybody as tough as him. We were just trying to get something going. We kept swinging and missing out in front.

“This guy was as good as anybody we’ve seen. Just a great job by him.”

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A swollen right index finger ensured Abreu wouldn’t be in the lineup Saturday, which limited the White Sox chances. An offense that has struggled overall is even worse against lefties as their team .568 OPS is more than one hundred points below that against righties.

But Keuchel didn’t appear to need much help.

He not only had good command, Keuchel had White Sox hitters off balance most of the day. Were it not for a pair of errors by Astros third baseman Jonathan Villar, the White Sox would have had just four base runners.

Still, they had a chance in the third inning when Geovany Soto singled, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a Carlos Sanchez ground out. But Keuchel toughened up and struck out Adam Eaton and Emilio Bonifacio.

[MORE WHITE SOX: X-rays of Jose Abreu's finger are negative]

“He used my aggressiveness against me,” Eaton said. “Runner on third base, less than (two outs) he made his pitches. ... It wasn't my day.

“He keeps the ball down and hits his spots. And he nibbles. That's what most lefties that don't throw 95 do. He does that very effectively. He's got a good two-seam, he runs a good slider away from lefties, into righties and keep you off-balance. Hats off to him. At the same time we've got to be more competitive in here, and it starts from the top and the leadoff spot and trickles down.”

The White Sox also tried to generate offense by putting men in motion, and in both instances they were doubled off. With the White Sox down, 1-0, Gordon Beckham singled in the fifth inning. He was off on a 3-2 pitch, but George Springer caught Soto’s liner and he easily doubled Beckham off first.

Three innings later, Soto reached on an error with no outs and was replaced by pinch runner J.B. Shuck. With one out and Shuck running, Eaton lined out to third, and Villar fired over to throw out Shuck to end the inning.

“There was nothing you could get a read on,” Ventura said. “(Keuchel) didn’t have any pattern of the way he was throwing. He just seemed to be in command the whole time with what he was throwing and how he was throwing it. He was low in the zone. Nobody really got anything good. A couple of hits to right, but you could tell by guys’ swings.”

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A couple of feet added up to yet another difficult loss for Quintana.

He started strong and nearly got out unscathed after loading the bases in the fourth inning with no outs. Villar hit a fly ball to left and Melky Cabrera’s throw short-hopped Soto, who couldn’t corral the ball, allowing Preston Tucker to score. That was all the Astros got against Quintana, who allowed a run, five hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Evan Gattis and Chris Carter had solo homers for Houston off Dan Jennings in the eighth inning.

This was the fourth time this season where Quintana earned a loss despite allowing two or fewer runs.

“I feel great,” Quintana said. “I feel good. I tried to get the win, tough game. That happens. It’s baseball. You want to get wins, but it happens. It was a tough game today.”

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.