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Jeff Samardzija challenges Miguel Cabrera, keys White Sox win

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Jeff Samardzija challenges Miguel Cabrera, keys White Sox win

How many times has Miguel Cabrera devastated the White Sox with a critical home run?

The non-scientific answer is enough where it’s not a surprise if he delivers a tying, go-ahead or clinching blast when presented with the opportunity. He was presented with one of those opportunities in the fifth inning of the White Sox 5-2 win Tuesday, coming to bat as the tying run with runners on the corners and two out.

Jeff Samardzija, though, stepped on the gas. He fired a 93 mile-per-hour cutter for strike one. Cabrera fouled off a fastball for strike two. And instead of wasting a slider or splitter out of the zone on 0-2 and risking letting Cabrera back into the count, Samardzija went at him with a 94 mile-per-hour fastball up and a little off the plate. The result was a foul tip into Geovany Soto’s mitt for strike three.

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“There’s not much you need to say about (Cabrera),” Samardzija said. “He’s pretty impressive. You know every time he digs in (that) box you’ve got to be at your best. I just didn’t want to give him anything he could drive, especially with that three-run lead.

“I just wanted to stay away with him, and a guy like that if you put him on so be it. He’s not going to take any bags on you, but luckily we got out of it and especially with runners on its good to get that, start the next inning clean not facing Cabrera.”

Because it was in the top of the fifth, it wasn’t an incredibly high-leverage situation. But for the White Sox, a team that lost all five games it played last week and returned home to a cacophony of criticism, that strikeout — and the way Samardzija went about it — did stand as a key moment at least for one night.

Who knows how the White Sox would’ve responded had Cabrera mashed a three-run homer to tie the game at five. The Sox haven’t scored more than five runs in nearly two weeks, a stretch dating back to April 22 and covering nine games. And too, through 23 games, the White Sox have only topped the five-run mark three times.

[MORE: White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end]

The White Sox may or may not have taken momentum from Samardzija’s strikeout of Cabrera — that’s a difficult thing to determine, especially when the offense didn’t score again. More important, in terms of leverage, was Samardzija absorbing Ian Kinsler’s comebacker, pouncing off the mound and throwing the Tigers second baseman out with two on to end the top of the seventh.

“If (Brent) Seabrook can stay in the game taking a puck off the face I can stay in the game with a puck off the arm,” Samardzija said.

But in the fifth, they weren’t dealt the kind of haymaker thrown at them by Baltimore and Minnesota, the kind Cabrera — who went 0-4 Tuesday — has so frequently landed over the past eight seasons. And for that, it stood out on a chilly, cloudy evening in which the White Sox snapped that five-game losing streak.

“That was a big moment for us,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Anytime Cabrera's up there with guys on, it's never a good situation. You can tell there's some swing moments in there where he can back it up and get through it. That's one of them.”

Dallas Keuchel frustrated with White Sox' effort in loss to Tigers

Dallas Keuchel frustrated with White Sox' effort in loss to Tigers

Dallas Keuchel took his teammates to task after Monday’s uninspiring 5-1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox arrived in Detroit in the wee hours Monday morning after losing a hard-fought, extra innings, rain-delayed game vs. the Indians on Sunday, and Keuchel says the team let that carry over into Monday’s game.

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“I would’ve liked to see the team play better tonight,” Keuchel said. “We just came out flat, and I feel like we stayed flat the whole game.

“We’ve got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound, and doing what it takes to win, and we’ve got some guys kinda going through the motions. So, we need to clean a lot of things up.

“If we wanna be in this thing at the end of the season, we’re going to have to start that now. When you have enough talent to potentially win every game it’s very frustrating when you have games like this and it just seems like we were out of it from the get go... Today was one of the first games I've seen subpar play from everybody."

While that is obviously not the assessment fans want to hear from one of the top free agents the White Sox brought in this season, it’s that leadership that the team coveted so much from Keuchel in the first place. Leading is easy during a hot streak, but it’s more important during losing skids. Keuchel seems to understand that’s what the White Sox need as they try to transition from rebuilding team to playoff contenders.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning curves for this team, just because of the process that this team has been under for the last two or three years, and this is one of them. We faced a challenge tonight and hopefully we can come out tomorrow and strap it up and play some White Sox baseball.”

Tuesday’s expected return of Tim Anderson, whose energy has been noticeably missing since he suffered a groin strain on July 31, should help the team regain that spark. As one of the Sox’ most consistent hitters he should also help the sluggish offense, which has only mustered 11 runs over the last six games.

“We have a great opportunity these next couple of games to get some wins and keep moving the wagons forward,” Keuchel said. “As frustrating as it is tonight, we could very well easily come out tomorrow and play like we’re supposed to and then win the series on Wednesday.”


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Detroit Tigers' C.J. Cron hit by ball, needs to be helped off field

Detroit Tigers' C.J. Cron hit by ball, needs to be helped off field

A scary scene unfolded during the 4th inning of Monday’s series opener between the White Sox and Tigers.

C.J. Cron needed to be helped off the field after he got hit by a sharp ground ball while fielding at first base.

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Cron lay on the ground for several minutes after the play and limped off the field with the help of Tigers staff.

Amazingly, pitcher Daniel Norris was able to corral the ball and tag out Danny Mendick to end the inning.

Cron has been one of the Tigers’ best power hitters, tied for the team league with four home runs.


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