White Sox

Jeff Samardzija hit hard again as White Sox fall to Royals

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Jeff Samardzija hit hard again as White Sox fall to Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Jeff Samardzija has had a rough August.

The White Sox haven’t been any better.

Fantastic in July, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs in his past two starts, including seven Saturday as the White Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals 7-6 in front of 39,302 at Kauffman Stadium. Jose Abreu hit two solo home runs and Adam Eaton singled in two more, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the White Sox from their seventh loss in nine tries. Once 2 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, the White Sox are now seven back.

“When we get six runs, we should win those games,” Samardzija said. “Our offense has been doing great. We’re playing great defense. I’ll speak for myself -- you have to go out and be a little better than the last couple of times, and we will for sure.”

White Sox starting pitchers have a 9.60 ERA in the team’s past nine games.

[MORE: Jammed shoulder doesn't slow down Adam Eaton]

Samardzija -- who was 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts last month -- appeared to be on track to do something about that figure, as he was perfect through three innings.

But right after his team gifted him a two-run lead, Samardzija gave it back.

And while there were a few dinks and dunks in the bunch, Samardzija had no leeway after he issue a pair of walks. Alcides Escobar led off the fourth inning with a single and Samardzija quickly loaded the bases with walks of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.

From there the bottom dropped out.

In between the fourth and fifth, Samardzija walked the two, hit another and allowed six hits, including three with two outs as he fell behind 7-2. Kendrys Morales’ RBI double on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth ended Samardzija’s night. Over his past two starts, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs and 14 hits in 9 2/3 innings. His earned-run average has skyrocketed from 3.94 to 4.62.

“He was working from behind a lot … and he’s always better when he’s jumping ahead and getting guys chasing or locating the fastball if they’re sitting on that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Those two innings especially he kind of put himself in trouble.

“You know guys are going to have a bump here or there.

“It’s our job to try and stop them and right now it’s not happening.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

The middle innings wiped out a strong effort by White Sox hitters. After they stranded a man on third in the third inning, Abreu got the White Sox going with a solo homer to left off Jeremy Guthrie (six earned runs, 10 hits allowed). Melky Cabrera, who doubled, scored on an Adam LaRoche double play to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

Even after they fell behind 7-2, the White Sox continued to battle, though a base running mistake by Geovany Soto ended a possible rally in the fifth when he was picked off with Abreu up and two aboard.

“Especially with Josey at the plate you have to make sure that guy goes home,” Ventura said. “I’m sure he’s kicking himself.”

Abreu began the sixth inning with a solo homer to make it 7-3. Carlos Sanchez singled in a run with two outs and Eaton sliced the lead to a run with a two-run single off Luke Hochevar. But Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings to hold off the White Sox.

“It has been tough for us to combine the defense with the pitching with the offense,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to get wins when you can’t combine that. But we have to try hard every day. This is a long season and if you want to win you have to be consistent in all areas.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.