White Sox

White Sox mistakes doom them in loss to Cubs


White Sox mistakes doom them in loss to Cubs

The White Sox have nobody to blame for Saturday night’s loss but themselves.

Looking more like the error-prone club they were in the first half, the one that tripped all over itself, the White Sox missed out on key chances and were all about the freebies in a 6-3 loss to the Cubs in front of 39,579 at U.S. Cellular Field.

En route to their second straight loss, the White Sox committed two errors and stranded eight as they finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Winners of nine straight, the Cubs send Dan Haren against Chris Sale on Sunday as they look to complete series sweep.

“You look at the whole game and they made some mistakes we didn’t capitalize on and we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They put some stuff in play and they scored when we made some mistakes.

“You know the reason why you’re in a tough spot tonight.”

[MORE: Ventura 'shocked' by news of John Farrell's cancer diagnosis]

The first difficult position was choosing between red-hot hitters Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber in the fifth inning with a man on second and two outs in a 1-all game. Ventura elected for the lefty-lefty matchup for Jose Quintana (Fowler doubled in a run in the third) and Schwarber, hitless in his first two at-bats, made them pay.

“The swings that Schwarber had against Q earlier, Q’s better against lefties, it’s a better matchup,” Ventura said.

Schwarber ripped a 2-2 inside fastball from Quintana into right field for a tie-breaking single, though Avisail Garcia nearly threw Addison Russell out at home.

“I tried to go in,” Quintana said. “It was bad pitch and I have to be better on that pitch.”

The White Sox could say the same thing about their defense. Several miscues led to another Cubs run in the sixth.

Lost in the sky at dusk, center fielder Adam Eaton never had sight of Anthony Rizzo’s routine fly until it was too late and then he and Melky Cabrera nearly collided, resulting in a one-out double.

“Very helpless,” Eaton said. “It was a tough play. When it went up, trying to communicate to everyone that I can’t see the ball. As scary as it is, you don’t see it until it hits the lights. At that moment in time, I saw the ball. I didn’t hear Melky and I didn’t really know where he was so the center fielder in me said ‘I need to catch the ball here.’

“Probably wasn’t the right play to call for it.”

Jorge Soler singled to left and Cabrera threw high to the plate, just over Tyler Flowers’ glove, which allowed the run to score. Soler advanced to second on the play, as Quintana didn’t back up the throw.

Quintana allowed three earned runs and seven hits in six innings.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

A White Sox error in the seventh inning -- the result of two bad throws -- fueled a three-run rally to help the Cubs put the game out of reach.

With two on and one out and the Cubs leading 3-2, Zach Duke fielded Schwarber’s comebacker but threw high to second base. Though Alexei Ramirez caught it for the second out, he bounced an ill-advised relay throw to first -- Schwarber would have been safe anyway -- and Jose Abreu couldn’t pick it, which allowed David Ross to score from third. Rizzo and Soler then each singled in a run with two outs to give the Cubs a 6-2 lead.

A four-run cushion was plenty for Jake Arrieta, who wasn’t as sharp as he has been but was plenty good. Arrieta’s throwing error in the second inning on Ramirez’s comebacker led to a run. But after he stranded a man on second base in the first inning, Arrieta struck out Flowers to leave Ramirez at third in the second. Arrieta then pitched around Kris Bryant’s one-out error in the fourth.

With Garcia on third, Arrieta got another comebacker from Ramirez and had the lead runner hung up only for Bryant to drop the throw. But Arrieta struck out Carlos Sanchez -- who had an RBI groundout in the second -- and Flowers to strand the pair and keep it a 1-1 game.

Arrieta allowed five hits and three earned runs, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 14-6.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” Flowers said. “They’re taking advantage of mistakes. It seemed like every time someone got into scoring position they found a way to get him across some way, shooting balls down lines or blooping them in. They’re swinging it well, we’ve just got to score more runs.”

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: