White Sox

Geovany Soto's two-run double in 11th lifts White Sox

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Geovany Soto's two-run double in 11th lifts White Sox

HOUSTON -- The short-handed White Sox finally got out of their own way on Friday night to win a tightly contested ballgame.

Two-out, run-scoring hits by Geovany Soto and Adam LaRoche helped the White Sox overcome a number of mistakes and key absences in a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros in 11 innings at Minute Maid Field.

Three innings after he replaced Jose Abreu -- who left with a finger injury that is likely to keep him out Saturday -- Soto’s two-run, opposite-field double off Tony Sipp helped the White Sox win for only the fourth time in 12 tries. David Robertson pitched an inning for his 10th save, part of 4 2/3 scoreless frames by a restricted bullpen.

[MORE: Jose Abreu exits game with finger injury]

“Got a little messy there, limited on who we could use and mixing and matching,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We started moving guys all over the place, just trying to figure out who you got and who’s available.

“It was a nice win. These guys battled, but I think you look at team wins you’ll have at some point and this is a big one because it was a bit of a MASH unit.”

Abreu left the game in the eighth inning with a swollen right index finger he injured two weeks earlier and headed to the hospital after the game for X-rays. Initially, Tyler Flowers moved from catcher to replace Abreu before Ventura elected to remove the designated hitter and insert Adam LaRoche at first base for the bottom of the 11th. Then there was the bullpen, which was without Zach Duke and Jake Petricka as the White Sox played a doubleheader Thursday and had 15 games in the past 14 days.

But somehow the White Sox found a way to beat the first-place Astros despite their limitations and a gaggle of early mistakes. After Dan Jennings (1-1) pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the 10th, retiring Houston’s 3-4 hitters with two aboard, a White Sox offense that stranded 11, including nine in the first five innings, went to work.

[MORE: GIFs - Robin Ventura catches Flowers after tumbling over rail]

Carlos Sanchez drew a one-out walk and Adam Eaton singled off the lefty Sipp, the Astros’ seventh reliever of the game. Melky Cabrera struck out before Soto drove a 1-1 fastball to deep right to score both runners. LaRoche then singled to right to score Soto.

“To come in here and win the first game is important,” said third baseman Gordon Beckham, who earlier tied the game in the eighth inning with a solo homer and had two RBIs. “So far it’s been a pretty long trip, a lot of moving around and probably a lot of sore bodies out there with yesterday’s doubleheader and then tonight’s longer game. We’ve just got to keep scrapping.”

Robertson called the victory needed.

The White Sox didn’t play as if they wanted it early, tacking two unearned runs onto the record of starting pitcher Carlos Rodon. Rodon, who had walked 15 in his previous 16 innings, looked sharp and walked none over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and allowed eight hits.

But Conor Gillaspie misplayed a grounder into an RBI single in the fourth inning -- runner Evan Gattis moved into scoring position on a Tyler Flowers passed ball -- and in the sixth, Abreu flipped a ball high to Rodon, who was over to cover the base, which allowed Houston to take a 3-2 lead. Melky Cabrera also had a throwing error in the sixth that setup the go-ahead run.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox offense wasn’t up to par, either, as it had trouble converting myriad chances against young Astros starter Lance McCullers. The White Sox stranded two in the first inning, three in the second, another in the third and left the bases loaded in the fifth.

The White Sox scored in the third inning when Conor Gillaspie struck out but the ball bounded away and catcher Hank Conger’s throw to first hit Gillaspie in the back, which allowed Alexei Ramirez to score.

Beckham also had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the fifth inning with the bases loaded to tie the score at 2. Though Ventura wasn’t certain that Robertson would be available to pitch, the closer had no doubt he would pitch once his teammates pulled ahead in the 11th.

“I felt good today so I was ready to take the ball,” Robertson said. “We needed this win and we grinded it out.

“We just played so many tight ballgames lately, so many grinder games and to come out on top of one like this is nice.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

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?

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USA TODAY

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.