White Sox

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox rebound to beat Twins, snap skid

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Jeff Samardzija, White Sox rebound to beat Twins, snap skid

It was about halfway through batting practice on Friday night when J.B. Shuck found out he’d start in place of Avisail Garcia.

Shortly after, Shuck headed to the clubhouse to watch film and five hours later his sacrifice fly made the difference in a 3-2 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins in front of 21,067 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shuck went 2-for-3 in support of Jeff Samardzija, who was nearly unhittable over his final seven innings and finished with nine strikeouts. David Robertson saved his team’s third win in 20 tries when they score three or fewer run as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak.

“I’m just trying to get something up, hopefully something I can drive into the outfield, and be ready from the first pitch,” Shuck said. “When I found out is when you really start to prepare. …

“Being at home, you still have time after to come in, watch film and get ready. So I had plenty of time.”

[MORE: Garcia being cautious with right knee inflammation]

Shuck’s sacrifice fly off Twins reliever Michael Tonkin arrived just in time to earn Samardzija (4-2) a well-deserved victory. Gordon Beckham drew a one-out walk off Aaron Thompson (0-1) in the eighth inning and Alexei Ramirez moved him over to third with his third single of the night. Shuck hit Tonkin’s first pitch to deep center to easily score Beckham for the one-run lead.

Robertson needed only nine pitches as he struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning for his ninth save in 10 tries.

“This is part of having a guy (Shuck) that knows how to play the game and competes,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He had a great game tonight. The last minute you put him in there, he knows how to play. That last at-bat can go a couple different ways. With him, you can bunt him in, hit and run, but a sac fly, he just gives you a professional at-bat.”

[SHOP: Buy a Jeff Samardzija jersey]

Though the early boo birds may have thought different, Samardzija gave the White Sox a fantastic effort.

In the first he allowed a one-out single to Torii Hunter, who was running when Joe Mauer doubled a 3-2 pitch to left-center field to put Minnesota ahead 1-0. Mauer stole third with ease off Samardzija, who has a 9.00 ERA in the first and second innings this season. Trevor Plouffe made it 2-0 with a sac fly.

But that was all Samardzija would allow.

He pitched around a leadoff walk in the second inning and once again got stronger as the game went on. Samardzija retired 17 straight starting in the second inning and cut down 23 of the last 25 men he faced. Flashing a fastball that touched 96 mph on his 118th and final pitch, Samardzija overpowered the Twins and looked every bit the pitcher the White Sox thought they were getting when they acquired him in a six-player deal from Oakland in December. He struck out five of six batters in the fifth and sixth innings.

Samardzija allowed three hits, two earned runs, a walk over eight innings. He’s 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings in his past three home starts.

[ALSO: Noesi to get the start on Monday against Blue Jay as Rodon pushed back]

“That's what you kind of start to expect out of him,” Ventura said. “As the game goes along, he just seemed to be locating better, throwing harder, sharper stuff. You feel pretty comfortable, even with him up around 100 pitches, you're still feeling really good about him. I think he handled the lineup and kind of getting through it, it was a great performance.”

It took the White Sox offense time to break through against Minnesota starter Phil Hughes. He struck out Jose Abreu -- who later singled off the left-field fence to extend his hitting streak to 17 games -- and Adam LaRoche with a man on in the first. Hughes then set down Geovany Soto and got a spectacular diving grab from center fielder Aaron Hicks with runners on the corners to rob Carlos Sanchez and end the second. But Soto tied it in the fourth with a two-out, two-run double just inside third base.

The White Sox now have 13 comeback victories.

“I have always known as long as I’ve been pitching you gotta get that first inning and get out of there unscathed,” Samardzija said. “Those things happen. They had a couple hits, found some grass and we got out of it with two and went from there. With this offense we have I know I have to battle every inning and we’re gonna have a chance to win.”

As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

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USA TODAY

As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson has in his mind an ideal number of times he’d strike out in a season.

“If I had it my way I’d probably strike out 20 times a year but I don’t know how you do that, really,” Davidson said before the Sox defeated the Royals 9-3 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It’s not realistic for an everyday player to go through the season with that few strikeouts, especially on a Sox team that entered Friday’s game with 1,163 of them, the second-highest total in the major-leagues behind the Rangers’ 1,168. The Sox were on pace to strike out 1,570 times, which would break the franchise record of 1,397 set last season.

Against the Royals, the Sox struck out seven times, but made more than enough contact—including three-run home runs from Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico—to win for the eighth time in their last 14 games.

With the Sox going through the trials and tribulations that come along with a radical rebuild, perhaps it’s not a surprise the team strikes out as much as it has the past two seasons. They are young, aggressive at the plate and still learning at the major-league level.

“It’s just some of the experience and learning your swing and trying to improve on it every single year,” said Davidson, who went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Friday night. “I don’t think coming up (in the minors) everybody was striking out as much as we do here so that just shows that the competition is better and we’re just also trying to learn.

“The MLB (web site) has a section just showing how nasty pitches are,” Davidson added. “Guys are really good here. It’s just a part of learning. It’s about seeing the ball, learning the zone, learning counts and understanding when they’re going to throw stirkes and when they’re going to throw balls and also just putting the bat on the ball.”

The Sox were particularly susceptible to the strikeout when they fanned 10-plus times during an eight-game stretch from Aug. 5-13, a franchise record. They fell one game short of matching the dubious major-league record of nine consecutive games with 10-plus Ks set by the Brewers in 2017.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said the cause of all the strikeouts “depends on who you want to look at. You could look at it collectively (or) you can look at it individually. We have one of the young men (Yoan Moncada) who has quite a few under his belt, both looking and swinging (for a major-league leading 172 this season). Two-strike approach obviously is something we talk about a lot and still has to be implemented in practical terms so that it's useful. We don't want our guys swinging out of the zone. We do want them to be able to defend themselves and keep a ball in play possibly when need be.

“But I'm not thinking in regards of how (strikeouts) continue to mount and what that indicates or doesn't indicate,” Renteria added. “We look at all of our guys individually and figure out what it is we can help them with in terms of attacking that strike zone and being ready to hit.”

Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury

Rick Renteria proved once again that he won’t let his boys quit.

The White Sox manager pulled Avisail Garcia from Friday night’s 9-3 victory over the Royals after the outfielder failed to run hard out of the box during a first-inning flyout. It wasn’t the first time Renteria has made a point by pulling a player during a game. Garcia was yanked from a spring training contest for not running hard out of the box and Tim Anderson got the same treatment in July.

“I didn’t think (Garcia) had given me an effort on the Texas Leaguer,” Renteria said after Friday’s victory. “If the ball falls in, you have to possibly advance.”


Renteria was quick to point out that Garcia is playing with a right knee injury that the right fielder said would have to be addressed—likely with surgery—during the offseason.

“He does have a knee that’s bothering him a little bit,” Renteria said. “I told him, ‘you certainly looked like something was bothering you.’ He said, ‘I felt it click when I came out of the box.’ ‘I said you understand you can still give me a better effort out of the box (and) he said, ‘yes, I understand that. I’m feeling this.’ We addressed it a little bit. He’ll be back in there (Saturday night). He realizes he still feels he can give us a little better effort.”

Garcia, who has been on the disabled list twice this season due to hamstring injuries, said he understood Renteria’s decision. 

“I felt a click (in the knee) and I didn’t run,” Garcia said. “Even if I felt a click I can do a better effort if I want to play and I want to play. That’s why they take me out. I felt a click and I was a little bit scared about it but I’m OK.”

Renteria said it is important down the stretch to communicate with Garcia when it comes to managing his knee.

“That’s why we had the conversation,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup. He says he can play every day, he says, ‘I can manage this, I can play through this, I’ll be fine.’ I said then give me a little more effort on some of those plays. I get it that you may feel it but if you feel it, just explain to me what’s going on and we can manage it that way. He really doesn’t want to come out. He wants to play.

“We’ve never had a problem with (Garcia),” Renteria added. “Despite a couple times here or there where we’ve taken him out, if you watch him he busts his rear end pretty much all the time. That was a rarity. At that particular point in time it was my decision to pull him out.”

Garcia said he will continue to play through the knee issue.

“I just have to keep going,” Garcia said. “But I was scared a little bit because I felt like a click. But at the same time, I didn’t run hard enough so I’m OK with it. I’m good to play.”

When asked if Garcia will get the knee taken care of following the season, he responded, “yeah, for sure. One-hundred percent.”