White Sox

John Danks' rough start does White Sox in vs. Indians

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John Danks' rough start does White Sox in vs. Indians

White Sox pitchers didn’t allow a run after the second inning on Thursday night.

But by that point the game already had been decided.

John Danks allowed four first-inning runs, including two solo homers, as the White Sox lost their third straight, falling, 5-2, to the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.

Danks gave up five earned runs, and the White Sox lost their first home series of the season to fall to 18-20. Danny Salazar and three relievers combined to strike out 11 White Sox hitters.

“I made some bad pitches that got hit,” Danks said. “I wasn’t throwing strikes. That’s tough pitching behind in the count. You know, got to get ahead and stay ahead.

“I dug too deep of a hole and got beat.”

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Following two fantastic starts, it was clear from the outset Danks was off.

Jason Kipnis started the game with a double, and after a walk to Carlos Santana it was 1-0 when Michael Brantley singled in a run. A second run scored when Ryan Raburn grounded into a double play.

Then the wheels came off as Danks surrendered solo homers to Nick Swisher — his first — and Mike Aviles as Cleveland took a 4-0 lead. After the White Sox missed out on an early scoring chance in the bottom half, the Indians came back and added another run. Danks walked Roberto Perez, and Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single. One out later, Santana had an RBI groundout to make it a 5-0 contest.

Danks lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and walking four.

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The effort came on the heels of two great starts by Danks, who had allowed three earned runs and only nine hits over 14 innings.

“The last two times out he’s been great,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He came out strong. Tonight that wasn’t the case. They got to him, the homers, and we didn’t hit, either.”

The offense had its chances but couldn’t convert against Salazar.

Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu singled in their first — the latter extended the slugger’s hit streak to 16 games — but Salazar struck out Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia to escape. Two innings later, Salazar struck out Garcia again, this time with the bases loaded. Abreu also hit a deep drive in the fifth inning, but Bourn ran it down and doubled Melky Cabrera off first.

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From Salazar’s third inning strikeout of Garcia until a two-out Gordon Beckham double in the ninth, Indians pitchers retired 17 of 20 hitters.

“It’s always frustrating to lose three in a row,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We kind of ran into some quality pitching against those guys who were really throwing the ball well. And on top of that, the few opportunities we had, we weren’t able to cash them in.”

The White Sox offense has stalled after a strong road trip. The team scored eight runs and finished a four-game series against the Indians with 24 hits. It was Flowers who prevented the White Sox from being shut out with a 436-foot, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. But otherwise the White Sox look eerily reminiscent to the offense that produced 64 runs over its first 20 games.

“It does not look good the last few days that’s for sure,” Ventura said. “One way or another we have to turn that around. You want to pitch well first and scratch across some runs. We had guys on base, we just didn’t get the big hit to get it across. It's simple: It needs to be better. That’s not tough to figure out.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.