White Sox

Adam Eaton's late grand slam helps White Sox top Indians

Adam Eaton's late grand slam helps White Sox top Indians

CLEVELAND -- Adam Eaton insists the bubble he blew before hitting a game-winning grand slam Wednesday night wasn’t the equivalent of his eyes lighting up at the sight of a fat pitch.

On the contrary, the White Sox outfielder said he was focused after looking bad on the previous two pitches of the at-bat.

But right before the point of impact, Eaton blew a perfect bubble and then matched it with a flawless swing on an 0-2 pitch from Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen. The first grand slam of Eaton’s career helped the White Sox snap a seven-game losing streak as they topped the Indians 10-7 in front of 14,371 at Progressive Field. Dioner Navarro also had an RBI single during a five-run ninth inning against the American League Central’s top team.

“I think I was so flustered about my swing before, I was just trying to make contact, not to look really stupid, and apparently I blew a bubble,” Eaton said. “I’m all right with that.”

“It was a lot of fun. I give a lot of credit to the guys I had ahead of me to even put me in that position.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox had already rallied twice earlier in the contest before Todd Frazier started a one-out comeback in the ninth with an infield single off Allen. Trailing 7-5, the White Sox offense hadn’t done anything since the fourth inning as starter Carlos Carrasco and two relievers kept them quiet. But singles by Frazier and J.B. Shuck and a Tim Anderson walk loaded the bases. Dioner Navarro’s blooper to left hit off the glove of Jose Ramirez to make it a one-run game and brought up Eaton.

Three pitches later, the White Sox delivered the same kind of punch they’ve experienced too many times to count since May.

“I’ve felt one of those before,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “For us, we realize what it feels like, but we realize it can happen, too. I think that’s part of fighting all the way through to the ninth inning and not giving it to them. You make them earn it and tonight we just fought our way back where we get something and it goes in your favor.”

The White Sox need a lot more like this one to go in their favor and realistically don’t have the time. Though they have winnable upcoming series at home against Oakland and Philadelphia, the White Sox remain nine back in the race for the second wild-card spot. They also sit at 57-62 with 43 games to play.

Despite their extremely long odds, the White Sox refuse to give in. That was made clear early when it looked like the offense would go nowhere against Carrasco, who struck out four of the first six he faced and had a 2-0 lead.

But Shuck singled to start the third inning and Anderson blasted his seventh homer, a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole to tie the score. His ninth-inning walk was also the fifth Anderson has drawn in 48 plate appearances after he took only two in his first 203.

Down 4-2, the White Sox pulled ahead in the fourth inning as Frazier doubled in two and scored the go-ahead run later when the Indians botched a rundown. But Carrasco didn’t budge from there as he retired nine of the last 11 he faced.

“Very fun to play in that kind of game, especially when Eaton hit the grand slam,” Anderson said. “It was a big moment for us.”

It was also quite a big bubble, though Eaton did it involuntarily and teammates told him about it later. He also shot down the notion that Allen left the pitch too far up and the bubble was a reaction to seeing a pitch in the zone.

“It wasn’t hanging,” Eaton said. “Concentration you do some things you’re not thinking about, and mine must be blowing a bubble, so we’ll take it."

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Having already lost out on Zack Wheeler, the White Sox can now scratch another free agent pitcher off the list of potential targets.

Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Diamondbacks are nearing a five-year deal with former Giants star Madison Bumgarner worth $85 million.

The White Sox weren’t heavily rumored to be pursuing Bumgarner and signing him was somewhat unrealistic. Although the South Siders are looking to add a starting pitcher or two this winter, Bumgarner enjoys hitting and therefore seemed more likely to sign with a National League team. The 30-year-old’s career OPS is .532 but he’s hit 19 homers in 11 seasons.

Adding Bumgarner would have provided the South Siders a veteran starter — one with an excellent postseason track record — to mix with their young rotation featuring Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. With MadBum off the board, the list of major free agent pitchers continues to shrink. 

Lefties Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are still available, but other teams that missed out on Bumgarner will shift their focus to the duo. Consequently, the White Sox will face stiff competition if they wish to sign either pitcher. Both were expected to be more affordable than Bumgarner but interested teams may be willing to offer more money to ensure they don’t come out of free agency empty-handed.

Where the White Sox turn next is to be determined. What's certain is they're running out of free agent options to upgrade their rotation.

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Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber


Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

The Indians have won more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons, with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming in Cleveland.

With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to Texas. The return package from the Rangers includes outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase.

DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.

Clase is a 21-year-old righthander who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 mph with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.

If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, a trade is the next route.

The Kluber deal may have implications for the Cubs as well. Texas appears to be intent on competing with the Astros, A's and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have been linked to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if he winds up in Texas, that would clarify possible trade partners for Kris Bryant.

Back in the AL Central, Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.

Last season, however, Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1, which fractured his right arm. Even before the injury, the 33-year-old righthander struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).

The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential as he was in previous years.

Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.

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