White Sox

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


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.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka


Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

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.