White Sox

Jose Quintana, White Sox lose to Indians, drop fourth straight series

Jose Quintana, White Sox lose to Indians, drop fourth straight series

CLEVELAND — Jose Quintana didn’t feel as if he was too far off with his command on Sunday afternoon.

But the tiniest misses led to too many pitches, particularly against the bottom of the Cleveland Indians lineup. The combination of those extra pitches and not enough run support led to another disappointing day for Quintana. The Indians’ 7-9 hitters reached base six times on and the White Sox didn’t get going until it was too late, falling 4-2 in front of 26,611 at Progressive Field.

Quintana dropped to 2-8 for the White Sox, who finished a nine-game trip with a 2-7 mark and lost all three series.

“I'm close,” Quintana said. “I feel pretty good. I fight every start. I want to be better, I want to get better for my team, better outings. It doesn't happen often for me in the past, but I keep fighting, I keep going.

“I fight with my command sometimes this year. Today was a little high with the pitches. I keep the ball down, but more missed in with fastballs. Sometimes I miss my spot, but that's all. Too many 3-2 counts.”

Eighth hitter Roberto Perez gave Cleveland a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the second inning when he singled just under the glove of Yolmer Sanchez with two outs to put Quintana behind 1-0. Quintana liked the location of the 0-2 fastball pitch to Perez. But the result was frustrating as Perez’s grounder up the middle scooted under Yolmer Sanchez’s glove for a two-out RBI single.

Two innings later, Edwin Encarnacion drew a leadoff walk and the Indians would push ahead by three runs. Jose Ramirez reached on a fielder’s choice and Austin Jackson singled. Ramirez advanced on Perez’s fly to deep center and scored on the first of two Quintana wild pitches. No. 9 hitter Erik Gonzalez then singled in Jackson to make it 3-0.

Quintana only lasted through five innings. He allowed three runs and five hits and struck out three in a 95-pitch effort (54 strikes).

“He had a lot of 3-2 counts today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s just a matter of commanding his fastball and seeing if we can get him to be able to get hitters a little more earlier obviously. That’s going to be the key for any of our guys. Be able to command strikes, good strikes, strikes that are not necessarily put in play with a whole lot of authority. And that will allow them to stretch their outings a little further.

“I thought he did a nice job of minimizing damage across the board for five innings.”

Todd Frazier expressed profound confidence in Quintana. He said he wants the left-hander, whose ERA stands at 5.30, to believe in himself, too. Frazier wants Quintana to think he’s the best pitcher in the American League.

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The veteran third baseman put some of the onus for Sunday’s loss on a White Sox offense that didn’t wake up until the sixth inning and then couldn’t do anything against the Indians bullpen. The White Sox responded after Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco struck Jose Abreu with a pitch just above the left elbow in the sixth. Avisail Garcia doubled Abreu to third and Todd Frazier doubled in both to make it a 3-2 game. Frazier finished 3-for-4 as he continued his hot June.

But that was it.

Terry Francona summoned Andrew Miller and the Indians’ bullpen took over. Miller struck out Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson to strand Frazier at second and keep Cleveland ahead. Miller struck out another batter in a scoreless seventh. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out for Cleveland, who added an insurance run in the seventh when Francisco Lindor doubled in a run off Tommy Kahnle.

“He’s going through it right now,” Frazier said. “And guess what? We didn’t get him runs. At the very end of the day, we didn’t score runs for him. He held them to three runs. You know, we got to score more. But there’s not one ounce in my body that thinks he’s a bad pitcher or think he’s not a No. 1 pitcher for any team.

“We have his back and I hope he understands that because I tell him that every day.”

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.