White Sox

Yankees' second-inning rally does in White Sox, Jose Quintana

Yankees' second-inning rally does in White Sox, Jose Quintana

NEW YORK -- Jose Quintana had a momentary lapse on Saturday afternoon and it unfortunately cost him.

The White Sox starting pitcher issued a two-out walk in the second inning and the New York Yankees made him pay. They pieced together a brief rally and Ivan Nova and three Yankees dominant relievers sent the White Sox to a 2-1 loss in front of 39,691 at Yankee Stadium.

Quintana fell to 5-2 even though he limited New York to two earned runs and five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.

“He had one inning that ends up tripping him up, but he’s sharp as usual,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s just what you expect out of him. We couldn’t get anything going. Nova was good. His sinker was great today. We kept beating it into the ground. We didn’t really get anything going. Fraz got one, but you don’t get anything. And if you don’t get anything early, you’re going to end up with that back end of the bullpen.”

Much like his entire body of work, Quintana was almost flawless on Saturday.

He easily set down the first five hitters he faced and jumped ahead of Chase Headley 0-2 in the count with two down in the second inning and no score.

But after a brief pause to remove a patch from his jersey, Quintana got untracked. He walked Headley on four straight balls (only his 10th base on balls issued this season) and Aaron Hicks followed with an opposite-field RBI double over Adam Eaton’s head to put New York ahead 1-0.

Didi Gregorious, who went 3-for-3, singled in another run to make it a two-run contest. Quintana yielded a ground-rule double to Austin Romine, but he got out of the jam and found a rhythm. He retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced, limiting the Yankees to a pair of hits and another walk over his final five innings. Quintana has walked only 11 batters and struck out 47 in 52 2/3 innings this season.

But the damage done was enough.

“I felt really good,” Quintana said. “The base on balls against Headley changed the ballgame for me. I missed a couple of pitches against Hicks and that was it. Tough game.”

Quintana has surrendered two earned runs or less in all eight of his starts this season, the most in baseball. He snapped a tie with Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (seven starts).

Nova has always presented a difficult matchup for the White Sox.

He had his sinker working well and stymied them for 5 2/3 innings. Combined with an outstanding effort from the bullpen, Nova improved to 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA against the White Sox in seven starts.

Todd Frazier got the White Sox within 2-1 with a solo homer off Nova in the fourth inning, his 12th. Brett Lawrie later doubled in the inning, but Nova struck out Avisail Garcia to strand the tying run.

From there Nova limited the White Sox to a two-out walk in the sixth inning at which point Joe Girardi turned to his bullpen. Dellin Betances struck out Melky Cabrera to strand the tying run in the sixth and returned to strike out the side in the seventh inning.

Andrew Miller pitched around an Adam Eaton single in the eighth as he struck out two of the four he faced in his scoreless inning. And Aroldis Chapman earned the save with a dominant ninth. He ended an eight-pitch showdown against his former teammate, Frazier, with a strikeout on a 101-mph fastball. Chapman also struck out pinch-hitter Jerry Sands and got Lawrie to fly out.

Yankee relievers struck out eight of the 11 White Sox hitters they faced.

“We all know who they’ve got,” Frazier said. “It seemed like Girardi couldn’t wait to get Betances in there after they walked me and you know, they did good. You tip your cap to them today. They dominated the last three innings and hopefully we come back tomorrow and win the series.”

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.