White Sox

Mat Latos stays hot as White Sox complete sweep of Rangers

Mat Latos stays hot as White Sox complete sweep of Rangers

Mat Latos has been off to a hot start this season and it continued on Sunday as the White Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 4-1, completing a series sweep at U.S. Cellular Field.

Latos improved to 4-0 on the year, bringing his ERA to 0.74. He pitched six innings, allowing seven hits and striking out two.

"Matty threw great. He continues to impress," manager Robin Ventura said. "That’s a tough lineup to go through when they load those lefties in there. He just does a nice job of filling up the strike zone, spinning it up and down in the strike zone. Taking a little off. Getting the ground ball when he needs to and a fly ball. He continues to do that and allow the defense to work for him."

Latos had his struggles though early in the game, having a 26-pitch first inning.

In the second at-bat of the game, rookie Nomar Mazara smacked a 418-foot solo homer to right field to get the Rangers on the board first. But in the third, Dioner Navarro responded with a solo shot of his own, his first of the season, to even things up.

Latos found himself in a few more jams later in the contest as well, but was able to hold off the Rangers from adding any runs.

In the fourth, Latos forced Brett Nicholas to line out, stranding the runners on second and third.

The next inning, the Rangers had runners at the corners with one out, but Latos prevailed by getting Prince Fielder to ground out into a double play.

“I was kind of running on fumes there, the last part, and I was lucky to get a ground ball,” Latos said.

The White Sox pitcher was stuck in hole again in the sixth inning with one out and runners at the corners, but forced yet another double play on his 109th pitch to get out of the jam.

“I battled today,” Latos said. “I didn't have good fastball command. I fell behind in the count early. I was lucky. I got away with a couple pitches. The defense picked me up and so did the offense.”

The White Sox offense started heating up in the fifth and got things going.

Brett Lawrie followed up a Melky Cabrera walk with a double to right-center field to start the inning. A wild pitch scored Cabrera from third — his second run from a wild pitch this series — to put the White Sox in front 2-1.

The White Sox tacked on another run with a sac fly from Navarro that scored Lawrie. And in the eighth, Lawrie’s RBI single extended their lead to 4-1.

David Robertson capped off the game by earning his seventh save of the season.

The White Sox finished their seven-game homestand with a 5-2 record and improved to 13-6 on the year, which leads the American League.

But on Monday, they hit the road for a week and they’re feeling pretty good about it.

"I know it definitely takes us into Toronto on a high note being that Toronto does have a good lineup," Latos said. "So keep winning ballgames and it definitely helps going into tougher series. The Rangers are a tough team and we were able to get a sweep. We just need to take that momentum into Toronto and then into Baltimore as well."

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.