White Sox

Melky Cabrera's big game sparks White Sox comeback win

Melky Cabrera's big game sparks White Sox comeback win

Melky Cabrera is the latest hitter to aid a surprising White Sox offense.

The veteran outfielder had two go-ahead hits on Monday afternoon, including an RBI single in the seventh inning of a 5-4 White Sox victory over the Boston Red Sox in front of 27,148 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Cabrera also blasted a three-run homer for the White Sox, who won for the fourth time in five games on the homestand.

Only three weeks ago, Cabrera boasted a .595 OPS and had one home run on his ledger. But Cabrera is hitting .407/.467/.852 with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 30 plate appearances (seven games).

“That’s the result of all of the work I put in for my preparation,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “I haven’t changed anything. I’ve been doing my same routine. My swing is the same. It’s just the way the ball is going out right now.

“Things are going well for us right now.”

Cabrera continued to torment opposing pitchers in the third inning when he ripped the first pitch he saw from David Price for a three-run homer to put the White Sox ahead 3-1. Cabrera then nearly broke a 3-all tie in the fifth inning with runners on the corners. But Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a diving stop and flipped the ball to start a fantastic, inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with runners on the corners.

But Cabrera wouldn’t be denied in the seventh.

With the White Sox down 4-3, Yolmer Sanchez led off the seventh with a triple to right. Kevan Smith tied it with an RBI double. Two outs later, Cabrera looped a Matt Barnes pitch up the middle for a single. Smith was waved home even though Red Sox second baseman Josh Rutledge tracked the ball down in shallow center. Rutledge fired home, but catcher Christian Vazquez couldn’t handle the hop and Smith slid in with the go-ahead run.

Buoyed by the performances of Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu — whose 10-game hit streak ended Monday — and Cabrera, the White Sox offense has performed better than expected this season. Monday’s effort was the 23rd time in 50 games in which the offense has scored five or more runs. The team entered Monday seventh in the American League with 225 runs scored, an average of 4.59 per contest.

“(Cabrera’s) bat’s starting to come to life a little bit more lately,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s been as relaxed as he’s ever been. He’s focused. I don’t think he’s changed his routine. He has a very steady routine. I think for most veteran hitters, they know when they’re doing what they’re doing, and they know that in time things will start to come full circle and they’ll come back to where they’re at. It’s not like he’s losing bat speed or none of that. It’s just a matter of time and sync and focus, and kind of finding himself back in the zone where he’s comfortable doing what he’s doing.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Chris Sale has 'no hard feelings' as he returns to face White Sox]

The back end of the White Sox bullpen continues to look comfortable holding the lead. Juan Minaya struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning for the victory. Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson each added scoreless frames to preserve the win.

White Sox relievers followed David Holmberg’s spot start (four innings, three earned runs) with one run allowed over five innings. The group entered Monday with a 2.48 ERA, second-best in the majors behind Cleveland (2.19).

“We got some good arms here,” Robertson said. “Those guys have experience. Everyone that comes up seems to step into a role, figure out and gets the job done. That's what we as a bullpen, try to be a tight-knit group, come in and protect leads and if we're not protecting a lead at least hold the game where it is and give our offense a chance to come through for a win.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.