White Sox

Kyle Lobstein limits White Sox as Tigers avoid sweep

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Kyle Lobstein limits White Sox as Tigers avoid sweep

Alexei Ramirez bore the frustration of another trying day for the White Sox offense on Thursday afternoon.

He grounded into a key double play that helped Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein escape his only real trouble spot. Lobstein limited the aggressive White Sox chances and the Tigers provided timely hitting of their own to avoid their first sweep at the hands of the White Sox since 2008 with a 4-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Lobstein pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball as he and closer Joakim Soria combined on a five-hitter. Jose Quintana took the loss after he allowed two runs in five innings with eight strikeouts.

“I feel a little bit frustrated because I wasn’t able to help the team,” Ramirez said through an interpreter after going 1-for-3. “It’s frustrating because this is baseball and it’s all about the win.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Micah Johnson beginning to settle in with White Sox]

After a workmanlike performance, Quintana appeared as if he might be headed for a victory when the White Sox rallied for a run in the bottom of the fourth. Taking advantage of an Ian Kinsler error, the White Sox got consecutive singles from Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia — who had the game-winner on Wednesday — to tie the game. Adam LaRoche then drew a seven-pitch walk against Lobstein to load the bases with nobody out.

But Alexei Ramirez swung at the first pitch — an 88-mph fastball — and hit a hard grounder that Nick Castellanos fielded before he stepped on third and fired home in time to tag Abreu out. Gordon Beckham followed with another hard grounder, but Miguel Cabrera corralled it to end the inning.

“Alexei hits it hard and it's just right at somebody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That's the way the game goes sometimes. You'd like it a little more up the middle and get something more out of that, but we had some opportunities off him in that inning. Other than that, Lobstein was good. He really had everybody off balance, he was getting ahead early and working both sides of the plate.”

The fourth inning was the only real threat the White Sox could muster. They only got one other leadoff man aboard on Micah Johnson’s eighth-inning single and he was immediately erased when Adam Eaton grounded into a double play. Lobstein recorded 13 of 20 outs on ground balls, limiting his opponents to five hits and two walks. His only run allowed was unearned.

“We hit a number of them hard, we just didn’t find a lot of holes with them and timely hits didn’t happen,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “ That’s kind of how it goes sometimes.”

So far this season the low-scoring offense has been a dominant theme.

While the White Sox scored 12 runs the previous two games, both victories, this was the 15th time in 25 contests they have scored three runs or fewer. They are 1-14 in those games.

Yet another poor showing with the bats led Quintana to a second straight hard-luck loss. He needed 69 pitches to get through the first three innings as he carefully navigated around the middle of the Tigers lineup.

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Quintana allowed a first-inning run on a wild pitch with two outs before stranding two with a strikeout of J.D. Martinez. He also needed 10 pitches to retire Yoenis Cespedes with two in scoring position and two outs to end the third.

Quintana nearly got out of trouble in the fifth inning but Beckham couldn’t glove a Miguel Cabrera grounder and had to settle for the out at first instead of a double play, which allowed the go-ahead run to score.

Quintana allowed four hits and walked two, throwing strikes on 71 of 107 pitches. The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning off Dan Jennings, who allowed his first runs since Opening Day.

The White Sox knew coming in some of their hitters are slow starters, namely Ramirez and LaRoche, who has begun to come around. Ramirez has hit the ball hard the past few games but still isn’t there, carrying a .202/.240/.281 slash line with no homers and 9 RBIs. He said the key is to stay focused on the present and not worry about the past — that they can’t give up on that theory, no matter how frustrated they are.

“We have to keep the faith and the confidence that we are getting better sooner rather than later,” Ramirez said. “We have to keep doing that until we get the results we want and the consistency we want.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”