White Sox

Mercy! White Sox walk off to beat Padres on Hawk clock night, six-game losing streak is ... ovah!

Mercy! White Sox walk off to beat Padres on Hawk clock night, six-game losing streak is ... ovah!

They might have come out mainly to get their Hawk Harrelson talking alarm clocks. But the fans at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night also got to see the White Sox win for the first time in more than a week.

And you know what that means: The White Sox six-game losing streak is — as the Hawk and his alarm clock likeness would say — ovah!

It looked like another round of “here we go again” after Wil Myers blasted a game-tying home run off Tommy Kahnle in the eighth inning, a solo shot that evened the score at 4. But the White Sox got their own clutch swing from Yolmer Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, a single up the middle driving home Tyler Saladino, who slid around a tag for the game-winning tally in Saturday’s 5-4 walk-off decision.

The teeter-totter nature of this one made for an entertaining affair for the more than 29,000 folks who came down to 35th & Shields. But more importantly for the South Siders, it was their first win since May 4 and the first win at home since April 26.

“It’s always good to win. It had been a rough week for us, but we have been battling every day and our heads were up,” Sanchez said. “This is a good win for us.”

Manager Rick Renteria was asked before the game about how he’s keeping guys positive in the middle of a losing stretch. After that skid was snapped, he explained how his players have been acting the same regardless of the outcomes of late, a positive sign for the skipper.

“Honestly it’s the same mood we’ve had all six or seven days, whatever it’s been. They’re getting ready to go back out there and try to get it done,” Renteria said. “I don’t think it’s changed, to be honest. They haven’t gone flat. They haven’t done anything that’s contrary to giving yourselves a chance to win a ballgame. Their energy has been consistent. That’s all you can ask of a team.

“You talk about effort level, they’re giving it. The bottom line is when you execute, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes has a chance to give themselves an opportunity to win.”

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For the second straight night, the Padres jumped out to a 1-0 lead with just one pitch, Manuel Margot hitting a home run off Dylan Covey on the first pitch of the game, just as Matt Szczur did to Miguel Gonzalez a night earlier. The Padres became the first team to do that since 2007, when Cubs slugger Alfonso Soriano smacked homers on the first pitches of back-to-back games in September of that season.

Avisail Garcia matched with a solo homer of his own in the second. After the Padres got another run on another solo homer in the third, Jose Abreu tied the game at 2 on a gifted trip around the bases. He reached on an error before advancing to second, third and home on a trio of wild pitches from Padres starter Trevor Cahill.

One more time the Padres grabbed a one-run lead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, but the White Sox plated two in the bottom of that inning, Kevan Smith and Saladino scoring on balls off the bats of Leury Garcia and Melky Cabrera to tie the game at 3 then give the White Sox a 4-3 edge.

That advantage stood until Myers’ eighth-inning homer off Kahnle. But Saladino led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, moved to second on Leury Garcia’s bunt and came around to score when Sanchez hit a pitch into center field. Saladino had to make one heck of a slide to avoid the tag by catcher Austin Hedges, but avoid it he did, something umpires confirmed upon video review.

“Great slide,” Renteria said. “What a fantastic slide. Obviously a great at-bat by Sanchy. ... I thought the guys battled all day. Give the guys credit. They’re getting after it. Fortunately for us today was our day."

Covey had an interesting evening on the mound. He struck out nine hitters — nearly matching his season total coming in of 11 whiffs — but lasted just 4.1 innings and departed with the bases loaded. Still, he surrendered just three runs in one of his best outings of the year.

White Sox relievers Anthony Swarzak, Kahnle, Dan Jennings and David Robertson combined with Covey to strike out 17 hitters on the night.

It’s been a tough stretch for the White Sox, one that at least in terms of consecutive losses is now over. Whether this season turns around for the better or stays a bumpy road remains to be seen. But what Renteria saw in his team, a steady approach and the most desired of baseball attitudes — not getting too low with losses — proved a winning trait Saturday night.

“The season is still young, and we know that we have a very good team,” Sanchez said. “We just try to have confidence in ourselves and just try to do our job, and we know that if we do our job, we’re going to be good.”

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.

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During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.

But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.


RELATED: White Sox schedule release: Slow start not an option with brutal first week

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White Sox said to have one of MLB's easiest schedules, but not so fast

White Sox said to have one of MLB's easiest schedules, but not so fast

MLB Network put up the raw numbers, blasting across the screen of anyone watching the league's hour-long schedule-reveal show Monday night that the White Sox had baseball's fourth easiest schedule in the shortened 2020 season.

Really? It doesn't seem that way when you look at it.

I understand the mathematics behind such a declaration. The White Sox nine 2020 opponents — their four division rivals from the AL Central and the five teams from the NL Central — had a combined winning percentage of .477 in 2019. The White Sox, you'll remember, lost 89 games last season, so the nine teams with the South Siders on their schedules got a mathematical boost, too. And it wasn't shocking, then, that the entire top four on MLB Network's list of the easiest schedules this season were Central Division teams from one league or the other.

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The Minnesota Twins were at the top of the list, their group of nine foes unburdened by their own 100-win pedigree from a season ago. The Cleveland Indians came in next, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals, then the White Sox.

What that tells me? Obviously the bottom three teams in the AL Central did not pile up the victories last season. The 89-loss White Sox actually finished third, with a couple members of the Triple-Digit Loss Club behind them in the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers. The NL Central wasn't so hot last year, either.

But do last year's records dictate this year's fortunes? Of course not. And certainly that's what the White Sox are hoping after the breakout seasons from core players in 2019 paved the way for an avalanche of offseason additions. Their expectations are sky high on the doorstep of this 60-game sprint to the postseason as they look to leap out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode.

So to answer the question: Do the White Sox have an easy schedule? I don't think it looks very easy.

They'll see the Twins 10 times, and though, in a fit of somewhat inexplicable unbalanced scheduling, seven of those games of will be played on the South Side, home-field advantage will be minimized with no fans in the stands. The Twins might have questions about whether their starting rotation can be as menacing as their thunderous lineup, but my god, is that lineup good. The Twins launched 307 home runs out of big league ballparks last season, including a whopping 27 of them out of Guaranteed Rate Field. And now Nelson Cruz has a new slugging buddy in the middle of that order, with Josh Donaldson signing up this winter. The perennial MVP candidate was back to his productive ways with the Atlanta Braves last season after a few injury-impacted campaigns, and his career numbers against the White Sox are scary good: a .333/.435/.686 slash line — that's an 1.122 OPS! — with 15 homers and 35 RBIs in 44 games.

They'll also see the Indians 10 times, and that same unbalanced scheduling works against the White Sox this time, with seven of the 10 games played at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The South Siders have struggled to win games there in recent seasons, dropping 18 contests at The Artist Formerly Known as The Jake in the past three years. The Indians might have dealt away both Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber in the last 12 months, but they still have what is arguably baseball's best starting rotation: Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac and more. Yes, the lineup is not nearly as formidable, but they still boast two MVP types on the left side of the infield in Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez. The road to the AL Central crown runs through the Twin Cities, but the White Sox have to leap over the Indians, too, to get to the top of the division standings. And that's no small feat. The White Sox penultimate series of the season is a four-game set in The Cleve.

While we already knew the White Sox were going to play a bunch of games against the Twins and Indians this season, these ones are magnified. The shortened season means that instead of their games against the Twins and Indians making up 23 percent of their schedule, they account for a third of it. Every game holds more weight in the 60-game setup, but none will be more important than these 20.

Getting to see the Royals and Tigers an equal amount is a positive, sure. Those teams combined for 217 losses last season and don't figure to be much more of a threat this year, even though the 60-game schedule could make for some truly wacky shenanigans. Even still, the White Sox lost their season series with the Royals last year, going 9-10 against them.

RELATED: White Sox 2020 schedule: 5 key series during 60-game race for AL Central crown

But it's those games against the NL Central that really don't hold up to the idea that the White Sox have it easy in 2020. There are four teams in that division that not only look capable of giving the White Sox some fits but look capable of winning the NL Central altogether.

That includes the Cubs, who the White Sox play six times, accounting for 10 percent of their 2020 schedule. That includes a three-game set on the South Side to finish off the 2020 regular season, when playoff spots could be on the line, setting up potentially the most meaningful Crosstown series since the 1906 World Series. The Cubs have questions like any other team, particularly when it comes to how much they can get out of their starting rotation. Already, they're down former White Sox hurler José Quintana after he injured himself while doing dishes. But if first-year manager David Ross gets enough from his pitching staff, a lineup featuring MVP types like Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo seems to be strong enough to do a good deal of damage.

The defending champion Cardinals are the White Sox opponents in the Field of Dreams game, and while that will be mostly a showcase for Major League Baseball's ability to construct a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield, it will also be the first of a three-game series between two teams with playoff hopes. Almost certainly the White Sox will run into excellent young pitcher Jack Flaherty, who's not only the Redbirds' ace but also Lucas Giolito's former high school teammate. There's a no-brainer of a pitching matchup for the nationally televised game in Iowa.

The Cincinnati Reds are a trendy pick to rise up and even win the division — it's my prediction, so make of that what you will — after an offseason of splashes that brought sluggers Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to the banks of the Ohio River. White Sox fans — and White Sox pitchers — likely don't have fond memories of either's time in the AL Central. Eugenio Suárez led the NL in home runs last season, and that Joey Votto guy has put up some gaudy numbers in his career that some might argue are verging on being worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. But it's that 1-2-3 in the Reds' rotation that really sparkles: Bauer, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, who have all gone to the All-Star Game once in the last two seasons.

The Milwaukee Brewers could be sliding backward with their seeming refusal to go out and acquire impact starting pitching, but that hasn't stopped them from making the postseason in each of the last two seasons. Christian Yelich is going to be around for a long while after getting a big contract this offseason, and they still have some real good bullpen pitchers. Two of their offseason acquisitions this year should be familiar to White Sox fans: Omar "The Narv Dog" Narváez and Avisaíl García, who both reached career highs in homers in 2019 and combined for 42 of them. The whole team should be somewhat familiar by the team the White Sox play four straight games against them in early August; the White Sox will play hosts to the Brew Crew in an exhibition game July 22 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Pittsburgh Pirates should not strike fear. They're rebuilding again, and the White Sox will gladly take four games against them, even if Josh Bell could cause some headaches for White Sox pitchers. But absent the Bucs, the NL Central is no joke of an opposing division for the White Sox or any team looking to win the AL Central title by the end of September.

With a heavy dose of the Twins and Indians and a smattering of dates against as many as four contenders in the NL Central, I wouldn't call the White Sox schedule easy. Are they better off than they were back in March? Probably, as this 60-game slate doesn't feature the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays — potential playoff teams, the lot of them.

But the White Sox have a lot of questions still to answer about themselves and little margin for error with every game meaning as much it does. Buckle up, folks. Players are already describing this shortened season as possibly having a playoff atmosphere from Day 1. And with few exceptions, the opposition could have that feel, too, for a group of South Siders looking to snap the franchise's postseason drought.


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