White Sox

Chris Sale strikes out 10 as White Sox rally past Royals

Chris Sale strikes out 10 as White Sox rally past Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chris Sale always has a strong desire to finish his starts, but Carlos Sanchez delivered even more momentum late on Friday night.

Sanchez blasted a go-ahead, three-run homer off Kelvin Herrera in the eighth inning to put Sale in front and he did the rest as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 7-4 in front of 29,218 at Kauffman Stadium. Sale --- who retired the first 13 men he faced -- struck out 10 in a 119-pitch effort for his sixth complete game of the season and earned his first victory since Aug. 20 and only second since June.

“I threw my arms up in the air,” Sale said of the Sanchez homer. “I was just, it was crazy. That’s your team fighting for you right there. It’s your team fighting back against one of the best (Herrera).

“It changes the complete landscape of the game honestly. You are looking at, we were down two and then we scored one, and then we hit a three-run homer. All you have to do is go out there and not mess up too bad.”

Sanchez’s second straight game-winner arrived three batters after Todd Frazier jump-started the stunning rally. Frazier had taken umbrage to an inside fastball near his head with one out in the eighth from Herrera and the Royals ahead 4-2. Frazier barked at Herrera before catcher Salvador Perez played the role of peacemaker.

After play resumed, Frazier doubled to left field and instantly scored on a one-out RBI single by Alex Avila. Avisail Garcia walked in front of Sanchez, who sat on a fastball and skied a 3-2 heater out to right to put the White Sox ahead 6-4.

Melky Cabrera blasted a solo homer in the ninth off Peter Moylan to stretch the lead to three runs.

“It’s really good when your pitcher pitches a really good game, to get the win,” Sanchez said. “I just tried to get the ball good and bring one run in and I feel really good.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura had no qualms bringing Sale back for the bottom of the eighth inning. Working efficiently, Sale had thrown 90 pitches through seven innings and rebounded nicely after he allowed four runs (three earned) between the fifth and sixth. Sale needed only 11 pitches to get through the eighth after a leadoff single and convinced Ventura with a quick chat to bring him back for the ninth. Though he walked one, Sale ended the game with a strikeout of Paulo Orlando on a 95-mph fastball. His six complete games are the most by a White Sox pitcher since Bartolo Colon had nine in 2003.

“He was going back out,” Ventura said. “It was nice for him to finish it off. Early on he was real sharp. They got to him in the middle there. Even at the end, talking to him, he felt great. We had been talking about how strong he is, his endurance, and this is another example of that.”

Sale looked like he had the stuff perfect games are made of in the early going.

He had pinpoint command of his fastball and buckled knees with sliders. Sale had no close calls in the first 13 hitters and was efficient. He struck out one batter in each of the first four innings and only needed 43 pitches to set down the first 12.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

But Salvador Perez fouled off an 0-2 slider in the fifth inning and singled to start a barrage of Royals hits. By the time it was over, Kansas City had gone 7-for-10 and went from trailing by two to leading 4-2. Sale escaped the sixth inning with a double play and set down the side in order in the seventh inning. HIs 11-pitch eighth meant Sale has pitched at least eight innings in six straight starts, the most by a White Sox pitcher since Jack McDowell had seven from July 10-August 8, 1994. He recently attributed the run to a plan he and pitching coach Don Cooper devised in spring training to work more efficiently. Sale also credited his catchers and his manager for trusting him.

“You got to give credit to my team, my catchers and not only that, but to Robin,” Sale said. “He’s letting me get extended a little bit. A lot of people are afraid to let guys get over the 110-pitch mark. We go based on feel -- if I’m feeling good. He came up and asked me after the eighth. I know how I felt and we went from there.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?


White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?

With Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech dominating in Triple-A, we tackle the No. 1 question on the mind of every White Sox fan: Are either or both of the White Sox top prospects going to play in the majors this year?

Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Slavko Bekovic give their takes and predictions. Plus, which other minor leaguers should be called up in September?

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

Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge show potential paths to success for strikeout-heavy Yoan Moncada


Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge show potential paths to success for strikeout-heavy Yoan Moncada

White Sox fans are justifiably concerned by Yoan Moncada's league-leading number of strikeouts.

Moncada carried big expectations into this season after earning the title of No. 1 prospect in baseball last year. He hasn't lived up to those expectations. But the struggles Moncada has dealt with this season don't at all etch in stone what kind of career he'll have in the long term.

Moncada's just 23 years old, and part of the reason there have been so many outside complaints about his season is that he's under the microscope in this rebuilding process. As an early arriver to the South Side, he gets looked at closely on a daily basis while many of the other highly touted youngsters in the organization are going through their developments in the minor leagues. And with the team where it is in its rebuilding effort, Moncada is going through certain things at the big league level that, if the White Sox were in a different spot, he might be experiencing in the minors.

But while Moncada is on pace to break Major League Baseball's single-season strikeout record, it's not at all the end of the world. See above for several reasons why. But there's another good one that's been discussed before but perhaps warrants a closer look, particularly after Moncada added two more strikeouts to his total in Monday night's loss to the Detroit Tigers. (He's up to 169 on the campaign and on pace to strike out 236 times.)

For fans expecting Moncada to arrive in the big leagues and display complete offensive mastery at the plate, just look to two of baseball's biggest stars, two guys who also piled up big strikeout numbers in rookie seasons that ended in Rookie of the Year awards, for examples of how Moncada's path can still end in plenty of major league success.

Kris Bryant struck out 199 times in 2015 to lead the National League and set the Cubs' single-season record. That's striking out in more than 30 percent of his plate appearances. It's also a total that currently stands as the 11th highest in baseball history. But Bryant has since seen those strikeout numbers drop dramatically, a possibility for Moncada as time wears on considering the rave reviews he gets from manager Rick Renteria and others when it comes to his understanding of the strike zone.

Bryant saw his strikeouts drop from 199 in his rookie season to 154 in 2016, a season in which he had 49 more plate appearances than he did in the year prior. Last season, his strikeout total plummeted to 128 (and his walks climbed to a career-best 95) in just 15 more plate appearances than he had in 2015. This season, Bryant has been plagued by significant injuries, but for what it's worth, he's got 75 strikeouts in 358 plate appearances, a strikeout rate 10 percent lower than the one from his rookie season.

So while Bryant and Moncada are different players, there's recent precedent — and just up the Red Line, at that — for a player striking out a ton during his rookie season only to consistently see those strikeouts decrease as time goes on. Remember that this is only Moncada's first full season in the majors. Time and experience can change an awful lot.

Then there's Aaron Judge. Last season, the New York Yankees slugger struck out 208 times, the sixth-highest total in baseball history. Like Bryant did in his rookie season, Judge struck out in more than 30 percent of his plate appearances. But unlike Bryant, Judge is striking out at a similar rate this season. Judge is a different kind of player than Bryant, of course, more of a slugger with the kind of power you see elsewhere among baseball's all-time single-season strikeout leaders: your Mark Reynoldses, your Adam Dunns, your Chris Davises, your Ryan Howards. Of course, Judge also walks a ton, something some of those guys did/do, too. Judge led baseball with his 208 punchouts last season, but he also led the American League with 127 walks. Judge ranks in among the league leaders again this season, with 68 walks.

Again, we'll go back to the praise for and confidence in Moncada's eye at the plate. He's got 50 walks in this strikeout-heavy season. As his skills at the dish are honed further, perhaps he could follow a path more similar to Judge's than Bryant's, where his strikeout numbers stay high but so, too, do his walk numbers.

Now, these are obviously not perfect comparisons. Bryant was an NL MVP a year after he was the NL's Rookie of the Year. Judge was the AL's Rookie of the Year a year ago and finished second in MVP voting. Moncada has other statistical areas of concern besides strikeouts: He's slashing .221/.304/.398 after Monday's loss in Motown, numbers that don't come close to the Rookie of the Year stats that Bryant and Judge put up in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

But these are examples of paths to success for players who hit the big leagues only to strike out and strike out a lot. There's little way of knowing if Moncada will be able to achieve the stardom those two have accomplished. But the big strikeout total doesn't preclude him from doing so.