White Sox

Chris Sale has second straight rough start as Rays drub White Sox

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Chris Sale has second straight rough start as Rays drub White Sox

It hasn’t been pretty for the White Sox since their winning streak ended, and Tuesday night was downright ugly.

Chris Sale had a second straight poor start, and the Tampa Bay Rays took advantage as they dispatched of the White Sox, 11-3, in front of 18,499 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale allowed seven runs, including two of the four home runs hit by Tampa Bay. Since they won seven straight games, the White Sox have lost five of six games, including two by Sale, and have been outscored 51-26. Avisail Garcia hit his first homer since June 8 in the losing effort.

“I've been the weak link (the last) couple times out,” Sale said. “I'm not leaving my team a chance to win; I'm not doing my job at all. It's tough. It sucks sitting in here for four innings watching what you've done just unravel and putting guys in situations they shouldn't be in. That's tough. It really sucks, honestly.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Avisail Garcia works through struggles at plate]

What had been a controlled burn turned into a five-alarm fire in the top of the sixth inning.

Already ahead by two runs, Tampa Bay put the game out of reach with Sale’s help. The All-Star pitcher loaded the bases with no outs as Asdrubal Cabrera singled in between walks to Logan Forsythe and Richie Shaffer.

Sale struck out Mikie Mahtook, whose fifth-inning solo homer gave the Rays a 3-1 lead. But Kevin Kiermaier dumped one into shallow center to drive in a run. On the play, Adam Eaton retrieved the ball and his throw home dribbled between the legs of Tyler Flowers, which allowed Cabrera to score, as Sale wasn’t there to back up the throw. Flowers was charged with an error. Daniel Webb took over, and three more runs scored before the inning was out as the Rays grabbed an 8-1 lead.

“Some sloppy ones that got through there tonight that we are not accustomed to the last week,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I thought we were over that, and we’ll handle it tomorrow.

“There’s always worse. But that’s just stuff we work on. We’ve been doing that since spring training so definitely clean that up.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: The Robin Ventura-Nolan Ryan fight story you haven't heard]

Sale — who allowed 12 hits and seven runs in his previous start last Thursday in Boston — allowed six earned runs and six hits with three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Forsythe had a two-run blast in the first off Sale, who struck out nine. His earned-run average has climbed from 2.85 to 3.52 in his past two starts.

“We all just expect him being an ace and how talented he is to just dominate every time, and the reality is he’s human,” Flowers said. “He’s just showing he’s human like the rest of us and he makes mistakes, too. We all know he’s going to work hard, figure out whatever it is and be better next time.”

Tyler Saladino hit a solo homer in the third, but the White Sox couldn’t otherwise solve Chris Archer, who struck out seven and allowed two runs in seven innings.

This is the latest round of a season-long habit by the White Sox, who have developed an M.O. for falling off the mark for a half-dozen games, correcting their poor play and winning until the verge of the .500 mark only to drop off yet again. Previous instances occurred in mid-May, mid-June, at the All-Star break and again last week before the non-waiver trade deadline.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

The most recent instance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the club and its fans as it likely prevented the White Sox from trading Jeff Samardzija. At the same time, the White Sox also reportedly flirted with bringing in a big-name bat to help maintain the team’s offensive uprising. Ultimately, general manager Rick Hahn determined it was best not to pay a heavy ransom to bring in a rental player when his club’s chances mostly are limited to a potential spot in the wild-card play-in game.

Tuesday’s loss dropped them to 4 1/2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays, who hold the second spot in the wild-card race. Five teams stand in between Toronto and the White Sox, who had crept within 2 1/2 games last week.

“It's tough,” Sale said. “It seems like I'm the one that always puts us in the opposite direction. I've had a chance to get us closer to .500 or even be at .500. I'm just not doing my job. It's as plain and simple as that. I've got to be better. I have to be better. They need me to be better, and I need to be better for myself and for this team.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

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

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”