White Sox

Indians hit two homers off Jeff Samardzija, White Sox lose

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Indians hit two homers off Jeff Samardzija, White Sox lose

Jeff Samardzija has never allowed more home runs in a season than he has in 2015.

The two he yielded in the sixth inning on Wednesday night put the White Sox in a hole from which they never recovered. Samardzija allowed four runs and the White Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-4, despite three solo home runs of their own.

Trayce Thompson, who later committed a costly, two-run error, Tyler Saladino and Jose Abreu all homered in the loss.

“If you’re going to miss location it’s hard to keep it in the yard,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s been tough for him in the last couple, being able to keep that in the yard and limit things. We had a couple solos there. They count, too. If you have a lead you can play with those, but if you don’t have the lead those solos cost you.”

[MORE: Mike Olt to see plenty of playing time for White Sox]

Samardzija’s night got off to a poor start when Francisco Lindor tripled to deep center with one out in the first inning. Michael Brantley grounded out to Abreu, who fielded the ball cleanly but briefly hesitated and had to settle for the out at first instead of throwing home.

Though the White Sox tied it in the second on Thompson’s solo homer, Samardzija gave the lead right back as Roberto Perez and Jason Kipnis both doubled the opposite way with each landing just inside the foul line.

After a quiet fourth, Cleveland’s extra-hit parade continued against Samardzija as Jose Ramirez started the fifth inning with a solo homer to make it a 3-1 game. Two outs later, Lindor homered to put the Indians ahead by three. The two round-trippers were the 25th and 26th allowed this season by Samardzija, surpassing the 25 he allowed with the Cubs in 2013.

Samardzija settled in from there but the damage was done. He allowed seven hits (six went for extra bases) and four runs with two walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Since Aug. 1, Samardzija is 1-7 with a 7.91 ERA, having allowed 11 homers in 46 2/3 innings.

“I thought I made some big pitches and had some nice easy innings and just got a little snake bit there with a couple of those homers that put us down one too many runs,” Samardzija said. “Otherwise it would have been a different game there.”

The White Sox offense didn’t have much success against Josh Tomlin until it was too late.

Thompson -- who singled in a run in the ninth -- blasted a game-tying solo homer in the second inning. Saladino and Abreu had back-to-back homers in the sixth to cut the deficit to 4-3.

But Thompson overran a one-out Chris Johnson single in the sixth inning with his error leading to two runs.

“I just had my mind focused too much on the runner,” Thompson said. “And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to catch the ball first. It happens. It’s going to happen again, I’m sure in my career -- its just terrible timing. We had a little momentum on our side with the home runs and stuff. It’s just a bad play and I have to move on, and have confidence in myself and stay aggressive out there. It’s going to happen again, so I just gotta move on.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.