White Sox

Kansas City Special: White Sox complete sweep, beat Royals

cabrera-brantly-white-sox-insider-0906.png

Kansas City Special: White Sox complete sweep, beat Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Their odds are nearly impossible and they haven’t got out of their own way but the 2015 White Sox refuse to die.

Erik Johnson pitched six strong innings in his return to the majors and the White Sox produced throughout as they completed a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 7-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Adam Eaton homered and finished 3-for-5 while Jose Abreu drove in two runs for the White Sox, who have won four straight. The sweep was the first by the White Sox in Kansas City since August 2013 and allows them to still register a pulse in terms of the postseason picture, miniscule as it may be.

“It’s good to take three from a very, very good team,” Eaton said. “It shows kind of our inconsistency this year. We come in and beat the best team, come in and play them tough and win all three. We’ve got to be more consistent. This last month of the season we’ve got to empty whatever is left in the tank.”

The reality is the White Sox are running on fumes and have been for weeks now. Sunday’s win moved them within six games of the Texas Rangers, who are on pace for 85 victories and currently are in possession of the final playoff spot.

At 65-70, the White Sox need a 20-7 run to the finish -- something they’ve proven incapable of time and again -- to have an outside shot at the second wild-card spot.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We are the streakiest team I’ve ever been on in my life,” closer David Robertson said. “We go from winning five or six to losing five or six. I don’t know why.”

Offense has been a primary force behind the team’s most recent winning ways.

Since they trailed the Minnesota Twins 4-1 midway through Thursday’s victory, the White Sox have outscored their opponents 30-7.

They didn’t wait as long on Sunday against Royals starter Johnny Cueto and kept adding throughout, including a critical run in the ninth.

[MORE: 'Proud moment' for Johnson in his return to mound with White Sox]

Eaton singled, Alexei Ramirez doubled and Abreu singled to make it 1-0 in the first inning. After Melky Cabrera walked to load the bases, Avisail Garcia singled in two more to give the White Sox a three-run advantage.

Adam LaRoche singled in a run in the third inning to make it a 4-1 game and Rob Brantly’s sac fly made it 5-1.

Eaton blasted a solo homer in the sixth inning, his 12th, to go up by five runs.

“Any time we jump out there, we seem to swing the bats a little better if we get it in the first inning,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Today, I thought Eaton did a great job of starting it off with a base hit, and guys kept going. I don’t know if Cueto had his best stuff today, but you have to take advantage of it when you can.”

Johnson made the most of his run support to earn his first win in the majors since April 20, 2014.

He allowed three solo homers in six innings, including two in his final frame, but only allowed five men to reach base. The Royals came back to life against Jake Petricka in the seventh inning and scored twice more until Matt Albers got out of the jam with a 6-5 lead.

“You can kind of feel the momentum change there,” Eaton said.  

But the White Sox stole it back.

Zach Duke struck out the middle of Kansas City’s order in a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Eaton doubled to start the ninth and scored on Abreu’s sac fly to extend the lead to two runs.

Now they have to hope the momentum gained this weekend can turn them into the consistent team they’ve failed to be for the first 135 games.

“Hopefully we can continue to win,” Robertson said. “You never know. There’s still a chance for us to sneak in there. As long as we have the opportunity, we have to keep fighting and keep trying.”

White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

kelvin_herrera.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

The White Sox saw another pitcher hit the shelf due to injury on Saturday.

Ahead of their game against the Rays, the White Sox placed reliever Kelvin Herrera on the 10-day injured with a right oblique strain. In a corresponding move, the team recalled right-hander Jimmy Cordero from Triple-A Charlotte.

Entering the 2019 season, Herrera was expected to be a formidable late-game reliever in the White Sox bullpen alongside closer Álex Colomé. While Colomé (20-for-21 in save chances, 2.39 ERA in 37 2/3 innings) has thrived, Herrera has struggled in his debut season on the South Side. The 29-year-old holds a 7.36 ERA in 38 games/33 innings. As things currently stand, his .326 batting average against and 3.82 BB/9 would be career highs. 

Herrera's struggles are somewhat suprising when considering how well he pitched (2.44 ERA, 48 games/44 1/3 innings) in 2018. He did struggle after the Royals traded him to the Nationals on June 18, though, perhaps a precursor of what was to come from him in 2019:

Kelvin Herrera in 2018:

  with Royals with Nationals
Games 27 21
Innings 25 2/3 18 2/3
ERA 1.05 4.34
BB 2 8
K 22 16
BAA .207 .304

The White Sox claimed Cordero off of waivers from the Mariners on June 7. He previously pitched with the Nationals (22 games, 19 innings) in 2018 and Blue Jays (one game, 1 1/3 innings) in 2019. He holds a career 5.75 ERA in the MLB, but he's pitched well with Charlotte. The 28-year-old has gone 3-1 with a 0.51 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Knights, with opponents hitting just .215 against him in 13 outings.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

lopez.jpg
USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals and the White Sox first win after the break, snapping a seven-game skid.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.