White Sox

Matt Davidson, so hot right now, slugs White Sox to victory

Matt Davidson, so hot right now, slugs White Sox to victory

Matt Davidson’s bat is so hot that the White Sox still had plenty even after Avisail Garcia’s ejection on Thursday afternoon.

Davidson homered for the fourth game in a row and also jump-started the game-winning rally as the White Sox downed the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The leadoff homer blasted by Davidson in the fourth inning made him the first White Sox player to homer in four straight games since Alex Rios from April 5-9, 2013. Garcia and manager Rick Renteria were ejected in the bottom of the fifth inning by first-base ump Paul Emmel after arguing about a checked swing.

“He’s been outstanding,” Renteria said. “He’s obviously been able to drive the ball out of the ballpark. He’s been able to get to pitches he can handle.  

“He’s been just trying to stay in a particular zone and we’re glad that he’s been able to do what he’s can do. It’s something the whole organization has been hoping he’d be capable of doing and he’s showing signs that he obviously can do it.”

Having already given the White Sox a 1-0 lead earlier with a 404-foot drive to left, Davidson wasn’t done. With the score tied at 1, Davidson sparked a sixth-inning rally with a leadoff double to left off Baltimore starter Chris Tillman. Tillman walked Yolmer Sanchez and Kevan Smith picked up his third hit and loaded the bases when the Orioles misplayed his sac bunt attempt.

Melky Cabrera ended Tillman’s day with a one-out, two-run single to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Reliever Jimmy Yacabonis walked the first two batters he faced (Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu), the latter forcing in a run. After taking over for Avisail Garcia in the top of the sixth, Leury Garcia’s sac fly gave the White Sox a 5-1 lead.

Davidson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. He went 7-for-15 with four home runs and eight RBIs in the series. Davidson is one shy of tying the team record for most consecutive games with a homer, a feat accomplished seven times by six players. AJ Pierzynski was the last White Sox player to homer in five straight gaames in 2012.

His current run comes days after he wrapped up an 0-for-13 stretch with nine strikeouts. Looking to get going, Davidson followed Todd Frazier into the bullpen and stood in --- without swinging --- against White Sox pitchers during their practice sessions to better see pitches.

Frazier credited the practice for his hot June and suggested Davidson would soon heat up. Davidson thinks it helped as well.

“That’s something that has always kind of been out there,” Davidson said. “If you’re not seeing it really well to go in and try to get a little more game-like reps just because (batting practice) and flips and stuff in the cage doesn’t really translate over to the game. We’ve got some really good arms. Standing in on some of those guys kind of makes you relaxed and makes you realize it’s the same thing you’re going to see that night.”

Avisail Garcia’s ejection is the only thing to slow him down recently. The right fielder had singled in his first two trips, giving him eight hits in 15 at-bats in the series with six RBIs. Garcia fell behind Tillman in the count 0-2 in the fifth inning and tried to check his swing on a slider in the dirt. Emmel ruled Garcia went around and he threw his arms up as he walked toward the dugout before turning back and glaring at the umpire, pointing his fingers at his own eyes as if to suggest he was watching Emmel. That move led to Garcia’s ejection (the first of his career) and Renteria raced out of the dugout to express his displeasure. Renteria was ejected for the second time this season and eighth in his career.

White Sox starter David Holmberg, who delivered 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball before handing it over to the bullpen, thought Renteria’s ejection fired up the White Sox. A former minor league teammate of Davidson’s with Arizona, Holmberg said his teammate’s performance has some familiarity to it.

“Pretty impressive, pretty impressive,” Holmberg said. “I played with Matt back in the day, all the way back in 2011 and I've seen him go on runs like this and it's fun to watch up here.”

MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Blue Jays 7-1
Record: 51-36 this season, first in AL Central (3 games ahead of Twins)

W: Dallas Keuchel (5-5)
L: Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4)

Game summary: The South Siders continued their three-game set vs the Blue Jays north of the border on Wednesday. And just like Canadian summers, their bats took a little longer than normal to warm up in this game.

Fortunately for the White Sox, they didn’t need a lot of runs early as Dallas Keuchel had his entire repertoire working. The veteran lefty, a frequent sore spot in the rotation this season, went eight innings while allowing just one run and striking out five batters. Sporting an ERA above 7 at times this year, Keuchel is now sitting at 5.90.

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After just scoring just two runs through the first seven frames, the White Sox offense broke out in the eighth. Tim Anderson emerged from his power slump in a big way, hitting a three-run bomb to left. Then, Nomar Mazara also went deep, slugging his 17th homer of the season.

The White Sox winning streak is now at three games, the same total they lead the AL Central by as All-Star weekend approaches.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-4 (.311 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, 2B (.251 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5, HR (23), RBI, R (.278 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-3, 2 BB, R (.309 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R (.311 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, HR (15), 3 RBI, R (.275 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-5, R (.256 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-3 (.283 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-4, HR (17), 2 RBI, R (.257 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first

Yoan Moncada homered to left field. 1-0 CHW.

Top fourth

Nomar Mazara singled to left field, Luis Robert scored. 2-0 CHW.

Bottom fifth

Bo Bichette homered to left field. 2-1 CHW.

Top eighth

Tim Anderson homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu scored. 5-1 CHW.
Mazara homered to right field. 6-1 CHW.

Top ninth

Anderson reached on throwing error, Abreu scored. 7-1 CHW.

Notable performance: Mazara is the human embodiment of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Despite being in the nine-hole, Mazara has hit 16 homers and is ninh in the AL with 63 RBIs. There's no reason to move him elsewhere in the lineup.

Next game: Thursday, July 2 - Game 88: White Sox at Blue Jays (Dylan Cease, 4-4, 5.40 ERA vs Ryan Borucki, 6-4, 5.11 ERA)


Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

It's been a bit of a deflating experience for White Sox fans over the past few months. They were ready for their team to finally ascend into the realm of baseball's contenders, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to put those plans on hold.

The most anticipated season of White Sox baseball in years wasn't happening.

Well, it's kind of happening now, albeit in a squeezed-down, 60-game version that has some fans already bemoaning the 2020 campaign's illegitimacy before it starts.

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But White Sox fans who had the wind taken out of their sails shouldn't be so down in the dumps. Even after a three-month layoff and staring at a two-month sprint to the postseason, the White Sox seem to be in as good a position as they were back in March to make their jump out of rebuilding mode and into contending mode.

Though so much has changed in baseball and around the world in the last few months, that one aspect of the White Sox outlook for the 2020 season has not, according to one of the team's best players.

"I think that each one of us has been working out, has been doing what they are supposed to be doing in order to get ready for the season," Yoan Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "If that's the case, and I truly believe that’s the case, we are going to be ready, when the season starts, to compete right away. I think there’s not going to be any major difference."

Indeed, there's reason to believe that the White Sox are positioned quite well to compete for an AL Central title and reach the postseason, much like there was back in March. The young core of Moncada, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito were excellent in 2019, especially toward the end of the season. The front office added numerous impact veterans with winning experience during the offseason. And Luis Robert is a much-hyped prospect who could provide a huge boost to the lineup right away.

And the layoff has even allowed for some improvements to the roster, at least on paper, with a pitching staff deepened by the potential full-season additions of recovered arms Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning.

While the White Sox have their fair share of questions — look to that same pitching staff, where it's unknown what kind of results the team will get from Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez — they could wind up the most balanced of the three non-rebuilding teams in the Central. The defending-champion Minnesota Twins have a powerful lineup that now includes perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson, but their pitching staff past ace Jose Berrios needs to prove its dependability. The Cleveland Indians, on the other hand, have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but their lineup is top heavy with major questions past Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

Moncada is of the mindset that to be the champs, you've got to beat the champs.

"I see ourselves in a very good position to compete in this division," he said. "I think that the team to beat is the Minnesota Twins. But I think we have a very good team to compete against them."

RELATED: White Sox not adjusting high hopes for 2020: 'I'm still extremely optimistic'

The third baseman doesn't seem to be alone in his thinking that the White Sox are still in a good position to reach the high expectations they put on themselves during the spring, when everyone at Camelback Ranch was talking about snapping the franchise's more than decade-long playoff drought. Team brass was sticking to those high hopes last week.

“I’m still extremely optimistic,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We come in with the same mindset, to build on what we were building when we were cut off in the spring. And I continue to be optimistic about how positively we can roll forward.”

Obviously this is a season unlike any other, and no one truly knows what will happen when the games start being played — including how many of those games the COVID-19 pandemic will allow Major League Baseball to complete. A fast start will be important to the White Sox and every other team looking to sprint to the regular season's finish line.

Some more good news, at least for Moncada? This is a season in which he doesn't have to worry about battling Chicago's frigid April and May conditions.

"I don't like cold weather," he said. "I think starting the season in this kind of weather is going to be an advantage for all of us. I think we're going to feel much more comfortable, and for me, I think I'm going to feel like I'm playing in Cuba because this is the kind of weather we're used to in Cuba. It's going to be comfortable for us."

White Sox fans have reason to believe they could be very comfortable with their team's fortunes, even after a three-month layoff.