White Sox

Avisail Garcia's three-run homer helps White Sox snap Yankees' eight-game win streak

Avisail Garcia's three-run homer helps White Sox snap Yankees' eight-game win streak

NEW YORK — Avisail Garcia had seen so many sliders from Luis Severino in their previous encounter the White Sox outfielder looked for it exclusively in a hitter's count the next time up.

When Severino acquiesced and left his 2-0 slider in the zone, Garcia pounced on it. The outfielder's three-run home run to left in the seventh inning made all the difference as the White Sox snapped the New York Yankees' winning streak at eight with a 4-1 victory in front of 30,075 at Yankee Stadium. The blast made a winner of Miguel Gonzalez, who dominated into the ninth inning and combined on a four-hitter with David Robertson. Leury Garcia also homered for the White Sox, who clinched a winning road trip. 

"I haven't seen (Garcia) like this," infielder Tyler Saladino said. "This is pretty impressive. Really impressive. Every single at-bat he's had a really good at-bat. Without talking to him or asking him what he's doing, because you let him keep going, it just seems like he's seeing the ball really well and he's on what they're throwing."

"I'm sure he's seeing the ball really well, but also locked in on what they're trying to do to him and taking advantage."

So far Garcia has made the most of what could be his last chance with the White Sox. He entered Tuesday with an American League-leading .447 average while also leading the AL in hits (21), OPS (1.128) and batting average on balls in play (.543). 

Among the tear has been several big moments, including Sunday's go-ahead homer that clinched a 10-inning victory over Minnesota. 

Garcia added another one to the highlight reel with the White Sox leading 1-0 against Severino, who to that point had been extremely sharp. Tim Anderson singled to start the seventh — only the second White Sox hit of the night. Yankees shortstop Pete Kozma then committed an error on Melky Cabrera's potential double play ball. 

After Jose Abreu popped out bunting on his own, Garcia took two fastballs and got ahead 2-0 in the count. He suspected Severino might throw next him a slider after their fifth-inning showdown. In that at-bat, Severino threw five sliders among eight pitches. 

What he found was a fat pitch high and inside and Garcia turned on it, driving it an estimated 429 feet to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

"He throws really, really, really hard," Garcia said. "He throws everything for a strike so you've got to be careful and don't try and do too much with that guy. My second at-bat he threw me a lot of sliders. My third at-bat he threw a couple of fastballs and I was looking for what he threw me a lot.

"Was looking for the slider he threw me and I put a good swing on it."

Garcia's homer was his third, which ties him with Matt Davidson for the team lead. Garcia also leads the White Sox with 13 runs driven in.

"He's been good for a while now, but I think he's still just trying to make good contact," manager Rick Renteria said. "Now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, which is good to see. But he's a strong young man that if he puts the bat on the ball and he does it well, he's got a chance to drive the ball."

Gonzalez was sharp with four pitches and New York took an aggressive approach. That led to a number of quick outs, a bunch of weak contact and few Yankees hits. Gonzalez retired the first 12 hitters he faced. Starlin Castro was the first to reach against Gonzalez on an infield single but was immediately erased on a double play. Gonzalez needed only three pitches to get through the seventh and headed into the ninth having thrown 72.

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

The Yankees got another infield single — their fourth off Gonzalez — as Chase Headley opened the ninth with a pinch-hit. Gonzalez, who allowed a run and four hits in 8 1/3 innings, was removed after four-pitch walk off Brett Gardner with one out. Robertson took over and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve the win for Gonzalez.

Afterward, Gonzalez was far more eager to talk about Garcia than his own success — the win was the right-hander's first on the road since July 5, 2015 at the White Sox.

"We understand last year (Garcia) was struggling a little bit," Gonzalez said. "This year he is just trying to stay inside the ball. He has power. He doesn't have to try to hit the ball out every time. He's been doing a really good job staying inside the ball and taking it the other way. Today that slider he hit was up, and his approach is definitely showing."

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

0520-reynaldo-lopez.jpg
USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

0130_carlos_rodon.jpg
USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.