White Sox

Garcia's double in 13th helps White Sox complete sweep of Angels

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Garcia's double in 13th helps White Sox complete sweep of Angels

Avisail Garcia has had to avoid excitable teammates chasing him off the field more than any other player in the majors this season.

The White Sox are just as accustomed to their current position -- needing way too many wins to bother to keep track. But Garcia delivered a big one late Wednesday night as he doubled in the winning run to lift the White Sox to a 3-2 victory in 13 innings over the Los Angeles Angels.

Garcia’s hit off Cesar Ramos rolled to the wall in left center and Jose Abreu scored all the way from first to give the White Sox a three-game sweep of the Angels. White Sox pitchers stranded 14 Los Angeles runners in order to earn the victory -- one that keeps the team’s very faint wild-card hopes alive.

“We’re in a position where we need all the wins we can get,” starting pitcher John Danks said. “This is important. Gotta win, that’s just the way it is. We’ll enjoy this offday and hopefully keep it going this weekend.

“It doesn’t do us any good look ahead.”

Actually, it probably is to the team’s benefit to avoid a look at the standings altogether. Though they completed a series sweep of the Angels, one of seven teams ahead of them for two wild-card spots, the White Sox remain 4 1/2 games back in the chase.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The series sweep is a step in the right direction, but it's one of many huge strides the team needs before it can even begin to harbor thoughts of extending its season. White Sox manager Robin Ventura prefers his players not look further ahead than the next day on the calendar and believes that would suit them well.

“It's a nice win, just day to day,” Ventura said. “For us, just play to day. Our guys are feeling that feeling again. For us, just play day to day and that's what they're going to do.”

Garcia’s offensive resurgence has improved the team’s chances.

Jose Abreu -- whose fielding mistake allowed the tying run to score in a controversial ninth inning -- singled to center off Ramos to start the winning rally. After Melky Cabrera popped out, Garcia, who walked twice in five trips, including intentionally in the 11th, ripped a 2-2 curveball to the fence to easily score Abreu.

Garcia leads the majors with four walkoff RBIs, according to Stats, Inc. The four walkoff RBIs is the most by a White Sox player since Joe Crede had five in 2004.

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“I feel different,” Garcia said. “I’m staying back on the breaking ball now and recognize the pitches and don’t try to do too much and just learn to put the ball in play. We’ve been fighting.”

The Angels tied the score at 2 in a very surreal ninth inning.

First, David Robertson struck out Erick Aybar, who ran to first base after the ball bounced. But plate ump Fieldin Culbreth ruled Tyler Flowers had tagged Aybar and ended the play, which was reviewed. After a lengthy delay, Aybar was ruled out and the call stood.

But C.J. Cron and Johnny Giovatella both singled off Robertson to put runners on the corners. Conor Gillaspie hit a grounder and Abreu -- instead of throwing home -- stepped on first base and tried to start a double play, which not only allowed the tying run to score, but also allowed the go-ahead run to advance to second as Alexei Ramirez was ruled to have obstructed the path of Giovatellla.

Robertson retired David Murphy to strand Featherston.

Four White Sox relievers stranded seven runners in the final four innings.

John Danks continued his best run of the season with another superb start.

Over his last six starts, Danks has a 2.75 ERA, including a July 27 outing in which he allowed six earned runs. Four times in the past six, Danks -- who allowed a run and five hits with three walks in 7 1/3 innings -- has allowed one run or fewer.

“Gotta win, that’s just the way it is,” Danks said.

Yoan Moncada is back at the top of the White Sox batting order

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Yoan Moncada is back at the top of the White Sox batting order

Yoan Moncada’s time down near the bottom of the White Sox batting order came to a quick end this weekend. After just five games, Moncada returned to the top of the lineup for Friday’s game and was there again for Game 2 of the series with the visiting Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

It ended up being the “break” that manager Rick Renteria described it as, and the skipper, for one, believes that short stretch was beneficial to Moncada, who was struggling mightily when Renteria made that move last week.

Through the first 19 games of the second half, Moncada slashed .122/.250/.216 with three extra-base hits, four RBIs and 33 strikeouts. It was as noticeable a period of struggles at the plate as he’s had in his first full season in the majors, a campaign that has to this point failed to meet the big expectations the former No. 1 prospect in baseball carried with him into this season.

Renteria said that bumping Moncada down in the lineup would allow him to watch opposing pitchers face several other batters and remove the need to do certain things that come with batting leadoff.

For what it’s worth, Moncada got four hits — two of them for extra bases and one a home run — and walked twice in 18 plate appearances over the five games against the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. He struck out nine times. Friday, he returned to the leadoff spot and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored (and no strikeouts).

“When we put him down in the bottom of the lineup, it’s because I wanted to have him see other players have multiple at-bats over the course of a couple of games,” Renteria said Saturday. “When you’re leading off, you have a chance of either working very well, working on base, getting your hits, whatever the case might be. But if it’s not working out, you start to get a little frustrated. You’re still grinding through it.

“The perspective that I’m giving him is, ‘Hey, listen, no matter who I put in there, they also make outs. Sometimes they don’t get on. Understand it’s just not you. It’s a difficult position in which you lead off the ballgame.’ I just wanted him to take a breath, take a step back, look at it, and then make an adjustment, allow him to get back into that situation.”

While the numbers from that five-game stretch aren’t enough to determine whether this is the start of a second-half turnaround for Moncada, Renteria said he did believe the experience to be a beneficial one for his second baseman.

“I thought it was beneficial,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily have this conversation to say, ‘Hey, did it work out for you for the last few days?’ Nothing like that. But as you’re talking to him, just in passing, as you go through conversations and you see where they’re at, hopefully we’re making the right decision and the right adjustments for them.”

Moncada still owns a .149 batting average in the second half. He’s on pace to strike out 235 times this season, which would be a new single-season major league record.

But this rebuilding season was always going to be about developmental growing pains. And the idea is that the experiences he’s going through now will pay dividends down the road, when the White Sox shift from rebuilding to contending and Moncada, the hope is, shifts from the developmental stage to the superstar stage.

As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

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As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson has in his mind an ideal number of times he’d strike out in a season.

“If I had it my way I’d probably strike out 20 times a year but I don’t know how you do that, really,” Davidson said before the Sox defeated the Royals 9-3 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It’s not realistic for an everyday player to go through the season with that few strikeouts, especially on a Sox team that entered Friday’s game with 1,163 of them, the second-highest total in the major-leagues behind the Rangers’ 1,168. The Sox were on pace to strike out 1,570 times, which would break the franchise record of 1,397 set last season.

Against the Royals, the Sox struck out seven times, but made more than enough contact—including three-run home runs from Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico—to win for the eighth time in their last 14 games.

With the Sox going through the trials and tribulations that come along with a radical rebuild, perhaps it’s not a surprise the team strikes out as much as it has the past two seasons. They are young, aggressive at the plate and still learning at the major-league level.

“It’s just some of the experience and learning your swing and trying to improve on it every single year,” said Davidson, who went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Friday night. “I don’t think coming up (in the minors) everybody was striking out as much as we do here so that just shows that the competition is better and we’re just also trying to learn.

“The MLB (web site) has a section just showing how nasty pitches are,” Davidson added. “Guys are really good here. It’s just a part of learning. It’s about seeing the ball, learning the zone, learning counts and understanding when they’re going to throw stirkes and when they’re going to throw balls and also just putting the bat on the ball.”

The Sox were particularly susceptible to the strikeout when they fanned 10-plus times during an eight-game stretch from Aug. 5-13, a franchise record. They fell one game short of matching the dubious major-league record of nine consecutive games with 10-plus Ks set by the Brewers in 2017.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said the cause of all the strikeouts “depends on who you want to look at. You could look at it collectively (or) you can look at it individually. We have one of the young men (Yoan Moncada) who has quite a few under his belt, both looking and swinging (for a major-league leading 172 this season). Two-strike approach obviously is something we talk about a lot and still has to be implemented in practical terms so that it's useful. We don't want our guys swinging out of the zone. We do want them to be able to defend themselves and keep a ball in play possibly when need be.

“But I'm not thinking in regards of how (strikeouts) continue to mount and what that indicates or doesn't indicate,” Renteria added. “We look at all of our guys individually and figure out what it is we can help them with in terms of attacking that strike zone and being ready to hit.”