White Sox

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox blow early lead in loss to Tigers

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Jeff Samardzija, White Sox blow early lead in loss to Tigers

The White Sox couldn’t add on to a Sunday lead and Jeff Samardzija and his defense didn’t hang on to it, either.

Instead of earning what could have been a nice series victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers, the White Sox blew a three-run advantage and lost 6-4 in front of 29,059 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Samardzija allowed six runs, including three on two sixth-inning homers, as the White Sox dropped to five games below .500. Avisail Garcia had a three-run homer in the team’s second straight loss as the White Sox finished with six hits, including only one over the final four innings.

“Obviously no one’s happy,” said Samardzija, who has given up at least five runs in five of 12 starts. “We’ve got to win those games. I put that on myself. Get four runs, you’ve got to take advantage of that and hold them to less than that and get the win.”

This wasn’t entirely on Samardzija as his defense gave away at least one run, if not two.

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But Samardzija had no answers for the middle of the Tigers lineup in the sixth inning as a two-run lead quickly turned into a 5-4 deficit. The right-hander looked as if he had found an escape hatch in the sixth when he erased an Ian Kinsler leadoff single by inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera.

But a 1-0 offering from Samardzija caught enough of the plate for Yoenis Cespedes to hit an opposite-field solo shot to cut the White Sox lead to 4-3. Tyler Collins, who went 3-for-3 with an RBI, singled and J.D. Martinez blasted a cut-fastball out to center. Cespedes singled in an insurance run past the dive of Conor Gillaspie in the eighth off Samardzija, who gave up 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Samardzija also surrendered another first-inning run on a two-out single by Collins. And Garcia’s misplay of a Collins hit in the fourth -- he slipped and turned a single into a triple -- helped Detroit cut it to 4-2 on a Martinez single.

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“For the most part (Samardzija) has been stronger as the game goes on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He gets through those first couple innings and he seems to be able to usually put it away. This one, I think we gave them an early opportunity with the ball in right field and you give away little things like that and the home runs end up hurting you. 

“This is a tough lineup and they got him.”

The White Sox got to Detroit starter Alfredo Simon early but never put the game out of reach despite several chances.

Trailing 1-0 in the first, they took advantage of a Cabrera error as Garcia crushed a three-run homer with two outs to pull ahead. An inning later, Adam Eaton had a two-out RBI triple to push the lead to three runs.

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But the White Sox ran into a pair of outs in the fourth inning as Geovany Soto, who doubled, was cut down at third on Carlos Sanchez fielder’s choice. Sanchez was then caught stealing to end the inning.

Eaton doubled to start the fifth but advanced no further as Simon retired Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and LaRoche in order.

“He had his plan from the beginning and he executed very well,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “In the first two or three innings some pitches were up in the zone, but then he made an adjustment and he did well.”

Simon set down the final 12 batters he faced, allowing four runs (one earned) and five hits in eight innings. He struck out seven.

Though Simon was effective, Ventura said he had help, pointing to the offense’s effort in the fifth after Eaton’s double.

“He was just good down in the zone, getting guys to chase,” Ventura said. “Not a lot of real good swings after that. We have to be better and probably more selective. Any time you’re throwing up that many zeroes late, he just shut us down and you have to be a little more selective and make things happen, but you have to capitalize. I think we had Eaton leading off with a double and didn’t get anything out of it. “Those always seem to come back and bite you.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.