White Sox

Jeff Samardzija's one-hitter paces White Sox to win over Tigers


Jeff Samardzija's one-hitter paces White Sox to win over Tigers

DETROIT -- Welcome back, Jeff Samardzija.

Locked in the worst stretch of his career, the White Sox starter was a Victor Martinez bloop single away from perfection on Monday afternoon. Samardzija threw a one-hit shutout and Carlos Sanchez provided just enough offense as the White Sox downed the Detroit Tigers 2-0 at Comerica Park in Game 1 of a split doubleheader. Samardzija, who earned losses in eight of his previous nine starts, credited an adjustment he made after watching video of previous games as he needed only 88 pitches as he dominated a Miguel Cabrera-less Tigers offense.

“Me and (video coordinator Bryan Johnson) got together on the film between starts and think we found something that was essentially tipping my pitches, half the way,” Samardzija said. “When you find that, it gives you a little extra confidence.”

The final portion of the 2015 season has gone so poorly for Samardzija that the only time he wasn’t booed in his last home start on Tuesday was when Robin Ventura pulled him in the fourth inning.

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Since Aug. 2, Samardzija had a 9.24 earned-run average with 71 hits, 22 walks and 12 home runs allowed in 49 2/3 innings. But the same guy who opponents had a .336/.403/.621 slash line against in the previous nine games cruised in the opener of a four-game series against Detroit.

“He just seemed to be on today all the way through,” Ventura said. “Low pitch count. But just command and everything. He didn’t seem to fall behind. I think that was the biggest thing. He just didn’t give in.

“Obviously, the best game he’s pitched here this year.”

Not only was Samardzija efficient -- he never went to a three-ball count and only had nine at-bats in which he threw two balls -- he yielded few hard-hit balls. While Martinez erased Samardzija’s bid for perfection with an opposite-field bloop single in the fifth inning, no other Tigers reached base and they had a total of three-hard hit balls.

Samardzija struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.

“It was pretty obvious on a few things I was doing, especially for my fastball and when it was coming,” Samardzija said. “For me, it’s such a big pitch. I’m always throwing my fastball that if they know it’s coming it really takes an edge off what I’m doing out there. Hopefully we can continue to get better and keep watching film and make sure there’s no other things in there and if there is we can clean them up.”

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The right-hander said he isn’t usually big on watching footage of his performances. But given the way teams had teed off on his fastball of late (.360 since Aug. 2, per brooksbaseball.net), Samardzija worked closely with Johnson between starts.

“I try to be an in-game guy,” Samardzija said. “But there are some times where you need to get out there and maybe watch an old game when you did really well or watch the past game and what happened. For me that was the case. I needed to go back to my last couple of starts and see why good pitches were getting tattooed. It’s not a fun feeling so you definitely want to fix it as fast as possible.”

Sanchez helped to make the effort stand up with a 3-for-3 showing. He and Adam Eaton helped give Samardzija take the lead in the third inning when Sanchez doubled with two outs and scored ahead of Steven Moya’s throw home on Eaton’s RBI single.

Sanchez blasted a solo homer to leftcenter in the sixth inning off Kyle Ryan, who allowed two earned runs and six hits in seven innings.

“(Samardzija) was outstanding,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “He deserved all of the credit for this win. We are there to help all of our pitchers and try to get some wins. It was very, very good today for him.”

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


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


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.”