White Sox

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

NEW YORK — The good that emerged from Wednesday night's 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees didn't provide the White Sox with much immediate help.

But the fact that Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu both put together a series of good at-bats, including the latter's most complete offensive game of the season, could be critical for the White Sox in the days ahead. Abreu doubled twice and produced his first three-hit game of the season and Anderson also doubled and lined out to deep center in the losing effort.

Their collective efforts weren't enough, however, to keep up with the Yankees, who blasted three home runs off Rule 5 selection Dylan Covey in the series finale. Covey allowed eight earned runs and 10 hits in five innings.

"(Abreu) had a completely different outlook today for whatever reason and it just happens that way," manager Rick Renteria said. "Some good at-bats. So did Timmy. We had a few good at-bats in there, a couple situations we didn't capitalize on. It was one of those games that got away from us."

The White Sox offense has been very hit and miss early this season. They've provided runs by the barrel full in a few games and minimal production in others.

One reason for those struggles is the early slumps of Anderson and Abreu, two of their more prominent performers. Anderson entered Wednesday's finale with a .389 OPS and Abreu was at just .380. In short, neither has provided much for an offense that entered Wednesday ranked 13th among 15 American League teams with 48 runs scored.

But both looked sharp against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.

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Abreu — who Tuesday said he was merely looking to make solid contact once again — started early with a double down the left-field line past a diving Chase Headley.

"Right now we're just working on trying to gain that confidence at the plate, because right now I don't feel it," Abreu said through an interpreter on Tuesday. "That's a process you have to pass through to get it again. That's why we're working right now.

"Right now, I'm not making any contact with the ball."

The slugger made plenty on Wednesday night.

Down 4-0 in the fourth, Abreu followed a leadoff double by Anderson with a booming one-out double of his own to produce the only White Sox RBI. The ball exited Abreu's bat at 109.3 mph, according to MLB.com.

"It was a while from the last time I heard that sound when I hit the ball," Abreu said Wednesday. "Besides the loss, I think it was a good game for me. I hit the ball the way I used to do it and that's a step forward."

Abreu also hit an outside pitch in the sixth inning for a hard single into right field. Abreu finished the contest 3-for-4, his fourth multi-hit game of the season but first since Thursday at Cleveland. He also made an outstanding defensive play to end the second inning with a diving grab to start an unassisted double play.

Anderson has shown little signs throughout the Yankees series he's about to break out. His fourth-inning double off Tanaka would have gone for a solo home run in most ballparks. But he settled for a double high off the left-field fence despite a 102.8-mph exit velocity.

Two innings later, Anderson lined another fastball to dead center only to have Jacoby Ellsbury track it down near the fence. The ball exited Anderson's bat at 102.1 mph, an outcome that normally produces a hit 79 percent of the time, according to Baseball Savant. Anderson finished 1-for-4 but still raised his batting average on balls in play to .200, which is well short of the .375 he hit in 2016 and what he routinely produced in the minor leagues. Those factors would suggest Anderson is due for a market correction at the plate, which would be extremely beneficial to the 7-7 White Sox.

But it didn't amount to much on Wednesday.

Covey allowed a double and a two-run Chase Headley homer in the first, and yielded two more runs on two hits in the second inning. Starlin Castro tattooed a 3-0 fastball from Covey for a three-run homer in the fifth inning before Aaron Judge crushed a hanging curve 448 feet for a solo shot and an 8-1 lead.

"Obviously today didn't go the way I wanted it to go," Covey said. "But you kind of have to take it like it is and learn from the mistakes. Come back (Friday) and put work in to get better. Just get better with all my pitches."

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”