White Sox

The Garcia and Garcia Show: Avisail, Leury keep swinging as White Sox complete sweep of Royals

The Garcia and Garcia Show: Avisail, Leury keep swinging as White Sox complete sweep of Royals

You probably couldn’t have predicted this before the season started: that a pair of Garcias would be leading the offensive charge for the surging White Sox.

But here we are, still in 2017’s first month, and Avisail and Leury Garcia are swinging the biggest sticks for a White Sox team that’s scored 33 runs during a four-game winning streak.

Avisail, who’s earning way-too-early virtual MVP chants on Twitter on a nightly basis, delivered the biggest blow Wednesday, breaking a short-lived 2-all tie with a two-run blast to center field to put his team back in front for good. Leury added his own solo shot an inning later to make it a 5-2 score, the eventual final in the South Siders’ win over the visiting Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Avisail Garcia remains the biggest talking point around this team, resurgent in his performance this season after struggling during his first couple years in a White Sox uniform. Last season he slashed .245/.307/.285 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs in 120 games.

After Wednesday, he’s hitting .373 this season with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 20 games.

“His approach hasn’t changed,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He had an 0-for-4 day the other day and he kept it simple again. Kept his hands in tight and driving the ball, not just feeling for it, driving the thing and you see the hustle out of him, man. He made a nice play in the outfield, too, and he is playing the game of baseball.”

“What I think I've seen a little bit more this year, he's making good contact but now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, too,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's a good thing.”

But don’t forget about Leury Garcia, who’s cranked his production up to 11 in the last few games. He’s 8-for-15 in the last four games with a pair of extra-base hits and four RBIs.

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Jacob May was pegged as the team’s everyday center fielder when camp broke. But Leury Garcia’s bat is forcing Renteria to keep writing his name in the lineup. And that, Leury Garcia said, has been the key to swinging such a hot bat.

“Yes, it was a matter of time. Because once you start getting more game time, more at-bats, you are feeling more comfortable with your approach and you are getting to know your team and what you have to do during the games,” Leury Garcia said. “For me, that has been the key, the playing time, the at-bats, the repetition. And that’s good.”

“Just his overall play. Obviously, he's getting on base, he's getting on whether through a hit or hustling down the line. He's making some plays in the outfield,” Renteria said. “Just his overall game is kind of coming together a little bit. I think it's part of who he is, and it's nice to see.”

Whether you want to believe that old baseball maxim that hitting is contagious or you don’t, there’s no doubt that the hits and runs have come from up and down the White Sox lineup during this stretch. Wednesday, Jose Abreu and Frazier got things going with back-to-back RBI doubles in the first inning.

That 2-0 lead held until the Royals chipped away at White Sox starter Jose Quintana, first with a run on a Jorge Bonifacio fifth-inning single and then with a run on a game-tying Alcides Escobar groundout in the sixth. Quintana had a pair of wild pitches in that sixth inning.

But then came Avisail Garcia’s heroics, the White Sox lineup finally providing some run support for Quintana, who won for the first time this season.

“The old saying hitting is contagious,” Frazier said. “You know to come out and get two quick runs with two outs, I think we got all the runs with two outs — spectacular. We had to keep pounding a little bit. Looked like both teams a little sluggish, quick turnaround after last night’s game and to get on top early kind of put a damper on the other team.”

The White Sox will take their four-game winning streak to Detroit for the start of a 10-game road trip that swings through the Motor City, Kansas City and Baltimore.

Or maybe we should be calling it The Garcia & Garcia Show World Tour.

MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Blue Jays 7-1
Record: 51-36 this season, first in AL Central (3 games ahead of Twins)

W: Dallas Keuchel (5-5)
L: Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4)

Game summary: The South Siders continued their three-game set vs the Blue Jays north of the border on Wednesday. And just like Canadian summers, their bats took a little longer than normal to warm up in this game.

Fortunately for the White Sox, they didn’t need a lot of runs early as Dallas Keuchel had his entire repertoire working. The veteran lefty, a frequent sore spot in the rotation this season, went eight innings while allowing just one run and striking out five batters. Sporting an ERA above 7 at times this year, Keuchel is now sitting at 5.90.

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After just scoring just two runs through the first seven frames, the White Sox offense broke out in the eighth. Tim Anderson emerged from his power slump in a big way, hitting a three-run bomb to left. Then, Nomar Mazara also went deep, slugging his 17th homer of the season.

The White Sox winning streak is now at three games, the same total they lead the AL Central by as All-Star weekend approaches.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-4 (.311 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, 2B (.251 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5, HR (23), RBI, R (.278 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-3, 2 BB, R (.309 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R (.311 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, HR (15), 3 RBI, R (.275 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-5, R (.256 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-3 (.283 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-4, HR (17), 2 RBI, R (.257 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first

Yoan Moncada homered to left field. 1-0 CHW.

Top fourth

Nomar Mazara singled to left field, Luis Robert scored. 2-0 CHW.

Bottom fifth

Bo Bichette homered to left field. 2-1 CHW.

Top eighth

Tim Anderson homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu scored. 5-1 CHW.
Mazara homered to right field. 6-1 CHW.

Top ninth

Anderson reached on throwing error, Abreu scored. 7-1 CHW.

Notable performance: Mazara is the human embodiment of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Despite being in the nine-hole, Mazara has hit 16 homers and is ninh in the AL with 63 RBIs. There's no reason to move him elsewhere in the lineup.

Next game: Thursday, July 2 - Game 88: White Sox at Blue Jays (Dylan Cease, 4-4, 5.40 ERA vs Ryan Borucki, 6-4, 5.11 ERA)


Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

It's been a bit of a deflating experience for White Sox fans over the past few months. They were ready for their team to finally ascend into the realm of baseball's contenders, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to put those plans on hold.

The most anticipated season of White Sox baseball in years wasn't happening.

Well, it's kind of happening now, albeit in a squeezed-down, 60-game version that has some fans already bemoaning the 2020 campaign's illegitimacy before it starts.

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But White Sox fans who had the wind taken out of their sails shouldn't be so down in the dumps. Even after a three-month layoff and staring at a two-month sprint to the postseason, the White Sox seem to be in as good a position as they were back in March to make their jump out of rebuilding mode and into contending mode.

Though so much has changed in baseball and around the world in the last few months, that one aspect of the White Sox outlook for the 2020 season has not, according to one of the team's best players.

"I think that each one of us has been working out, has been doing what they are supposed to be doing in order to get ready for the season," Yoan Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "If that's the case, and I truly believe that’s the case, we are going to be ready, when the season starts, to compete right away. I think there’s not going to be any major difference."

Indeed, there's reason to believe that the White Sox are positioned quite well to compete for an AL Central title and reach the postseason, much like there was back in March. The young core of Moncada, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito were excellent in 2019, especially toward the end of the season. The front office added numerous impact veterans with winning experience during the offseason. And Luis Robert is a much-hyped prospect who could provide a huge boost to the lineup right away.

And the layoff has even allowed for some improvements to the roster, at least on paper, with a pitching staff deepened by the potential full-season additions of recovered arms Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning.

While the White Sox have their fair share of questions — look to that same pitching staff, where it's unknown what kind of results the team will get from Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez — they could wind up the most balanced of the three non-rebuilding teams in the Central. The defending-champion Minnesota Twins have a powerful lineup that now includes perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson, but their pitching staff past ace Jose Berrios needs to prove its dependability. The Cleveland Indians, on the other hand, have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but their lineup is top heavy with major questions past Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

Moncada is of the mindset that to be the champs, you've got to beat the champs.

"I see ourselves in a very good position to compete in this division," he said. "I think that the team to beat is the Minnesota Twins. But I think we have a very good team to compete against them."

RELATED: White Sox not adjusting high hopes for 2020: 'I'm still extremely optimistic'

The third baseman doesn't seem to be alone in his thinking that the White Sox are still in a good position to reach the high expectations they put on themselves during the spring, when everyone at Camelback Ranch was talking about snapping the franchise's more than decade-long playoff drought. Team brass was sticking to those high hopes last week.

“I’m still extremely optimistic,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We come in with the same mindset, to build on what we were building when we were cut off in the spring. And I continue to be optimistic about how positively we can roll forward.”

Obviously this is a season unlike any other, and no one truly knows what will happen when the games start being played — including how many of those games the COVID-19 pandemic will allow Major League Baseball to complete. A fast start will be important to the White Sox and every other team looking to sprint to the regular season's finish line.

Some more good news, at least for Moncada? This is a season in which he doesn't have to worry about battling Chicago's frigid April and May conditions.

"I don't like cold weather," he said. "I think starting the season in this kind of weather is going to be an advantage for all of us. I think we're going to feel much more comfortable, and for me, I think I'm going to feel like I'm playing in Cuba because this is the kind of weather we're used to in Cuba. It's going to be comfortable for us."

White Sox fans have reason to believe they could be very comfortable with their team's fortunes, even after a three-month layoff.