White Sox

Carlos Rodon, White Sox rocked by Pirates on road


Carlos Rodon, White Sox rocked by Pirates on road

PITTSBURGH -- The White Sox have entered one of those free falls where nothing seems to go right.

The current downward spiral is now four games old with three more contests upcoming against the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates.

On Monday night, rookie starter Carlos Rodon got hit hard early and the bottom fell out in an 11-0 White Sox loss to the Pirates in front of 24,536 at PNC Park. Losers of four straight, the White Sox made three errors and dropped to six games below .500. Rodon allowed a career-high seven runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings and former White Sox pitcher Francisco Liriano twirled a gem against his former team, striking out 12. Liriano and Rob Scahill combined on a two-hit shutout as the White Sox struck out 13 times.

“We get a good hustle play from Eaton getting on base (to start the game) and after that I don't know what we did well,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We didn't do anything well after that. It's that simple.”

Rodon (2-1) looked out of sync early.

One of the biggest positives of the 2015 season so far, Rodon struggled immediately as he issued a leadoff walk to Josh Harrison in the first inning. The left-hander then gave up five straight hits, including a two-run triple to Francisco Cervelli, as the White Sox fell behind 5-0.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rodon got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts and a Tyler Flowers caught stealing and pitched around singles over the next two frames. But Rodon only lasted into the fourth as he surrendered a leadoff double to Jordy Mercer and Harrison followed with one of his four singles to make it 6-0. With the game out of hand, the White Sox yanked Rodon after 69 pitches. Harrison stole second and Starling Marte, who had four hits, singled off Daniel Webb to close the book on Rodon. On the play, Jose Abreu dropped the throw he cut off.

“Fastball command wasn’t too great, leaving balls over the plate and balls were getting hit,” Rodon said. “That was a good hitting club. It’s the big leagues, anybody can hit. You’ve just got to forget about today and go on to tomorrow. Q’s going to give us a good start. He’ll turn this thing around.”

Hector Noesi took over and immediately issued a pair of walks, one scoring on Mercer’s double to make it 8-0.

An inning later, Harrison singled with one out ahead of three straight doubles that made it 11-0. Marte’s double resulted in a Little League home run as Emilio Bonifacio’s relay throw to third got away from Gordon Beckham, who was charged with an error. Alexei Ramirez also had an error for the White Sox, who entered the game second to last in the league in Defensive Runs Saved, according to fangraphs.com.

The White Sox offense was no match for Liriano, who struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings. Liriano -- who appeared in 12 games (11 starts) for the White Sox in 2012 -- had a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Melky Cabrera singled up the middle to break up the no-hit bid, only his sixth hit in 54 at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season.

[MORE: Gillaspie adapting to new role with White Sox]

Liriano (4-5) struck out the side in the fourth and sixth innings. He threw strikes on 69 of 100 pitches and limited the White Sox to two hits and a walk.

It’s the 12th time this season the White Sox have lost by at least five runs.

“It went downhill pretty quick,” center fielder Adam Eaton said. “You hope you can get more than two hits offensively. Defensively you have three errors and throw the ball around and its not a good sign. But this is a good team. We’ve got to continue to work hard and try to compete every game and every at-bat. But we need to start doing it a little more frequently and grind out at-bats and same thing on the mound and defensively it has got to be much better.”

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?


Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado


White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado

It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: