White Sox

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Four White Sox went deep on Saturday afternoon, including Mike Pelfrey.

The starting pitcher’s six innings pitched is tied for his longest outing of the season. Pelfrey provided the White Sox with only their fifth quality start in 25 games to propel them to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 47,171 at the Rogers Centre. Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu all homered for the White Sox, who won for the sixth time in eight tries.

“Nice job by Pelf today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Threw a lot of strikes. Obviously threw his breaking ball very effectively, kept it down below the zone. His change of speed was definitely a big factor. Used his fastball when he needed to. Thought he worked ahead and was able to get out of a little traffic.

“I think that’s his best start for us to date.”

While the offense provided several rounds of fireworks, Pelfrey did the rest. Though the White Sox have limited his innings total, the veteran right-hander has provided them with about all they could ask for a player who signed a minor-league contract on April 8.

While he narrowly avoided a big inning in the second, Pelfrey was otherwise outstanding against Toronto. He recorded perfect innings in the first, third, fourth and fifth and also faced the minimum in the sixth after inducing a double play off Josh Donaldson’s bat.

Pelfrey nearly relinquished a 2-0 lead in the second inning when he yielded three hits. But Ryan Goins’ two-out double to deep center with two aboard bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Pelfrey then stranded a pair when he got Luke Maile to ground out.

Pelfrey allowed a run and four hits in six innings while striking out five. He lowered his earned run-average to 3.56 in the process.

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“The sinker was good, had good sink,” Pelfrey said. “The curveball was maybe the best it has been, which is refreshing because the start before it was probably the worst it has been. The slider was good too, and the split I thought was good. I had all four pitches working, and the guys behind me made some plays and they hit some balls at guys, and it ended up a good day.”

Tommy Kahnle also delivered a big performance for the White Sox. Kahnle took over in the seventh with a 3-2 lead and two men aboard and induced an inning-ending double play. Kahnle returned for the eighth and struck out two giving him 48 on the season with only six walks.

“(The double play) was huge because they had the go-ahead run at what, first?” Kahnle said. “They had the tying run at second. I was coming in there just doing what I normally do, trying to get ahead — even though I got behind early — I was trying to get Goins to get that double play ball. It worked out for us.”

The White Sox offense continued to provide its pitchers early runs.

Frazier blasted a 427-foot shot off Marcus Stroman with one out in the second inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Davidson followed with his fifth homer of the week to put the White Sox up by two runs.

Abreu put the White Sox back up two with a solo shot in the sixth inning, his first homer since May 24. The White Sox scored a run in the eighth on Donaldson’s second error of the game and added one in the ninth on a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze by Yolmer Sanchez.

“I thought I was going to have to be pretty good because the guy on the other side, Stroman, is pretty dang good,” Pelfrey said. “Luckily, he made a couple of mistakes, and the boys took advantage of them. He’s pretty tough, but we were able to come out on top.”

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency travel order Thursday that requires travelers visiting Chicago from states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases to quarantine for two weeks.

By the end of the month, a certain group of travelers — Major League Baseball teams — are scheduled to visit Chicago to play games against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Likewise, the White Sox will be traveling to play road games in other states, as well, from which they will eventually return.

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But the White Sox say they aren't expecting the new order to impact their upcoming 2020 season.

"Based on our current understanding, we do not expect this to impact our operations as presently planned," a White Sox spokesperson told NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday.

Currently, no states that are home to Central Division teams from either the AL or NL are impacted by Mayor Lightfoot's order. But as has become extremely apparent, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can change things quickly, and there's no knowing which states might be impacted come Opening Day or at any point during the two-month baseball season.

At the moment, the mayor's order, which goes into effect Monday, applies to visitors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Landing on that list involves a specific metric. Per the city's website, "a state will be designated if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average."

Major League Baseball is imposing a geographic schedule to minimize travel for teams during the shortened, 60-game season. Teams will only play their division rivals and teams from the same geographic division in the other league. The White Sox will play their four AL Central rivals and the five teams from the NL Central.

As of the mayor's order being issued Thursday, the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were not part of the travel order. But every one of those states except Missouri, as well as Illinois, is currently experiencing a week-to-week increase in the number of new cases. The number of new cases is also rising in Iowa, where the White Sox are still on schedule to play in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13.

The city has the ability to grant exemptions, though, and Major League Baseball's extensive health and safety measures could come into play. According to the city's website, "the Commissioner of Health may additionally grant an exemption based upon an organization’s or business’ testing and other control policies or in extraordinary circumstances, which warrant an exception from mandatory quarantine."

So the city has the power to let the MLB season, as it pertains to teams traveling in and out of Chicago, to operate as planned. It can allow the Cleveland Indians come to town, or allow the White Sox to return from a trip to Detroit, even if other travelers from Ohio or Michigan, for example, are mandated to quarantine for two weeks.

As mentioned, the evolving status of the pandemic and the response to it, not just in Chicago but across the country, can change everything in a hurry. Major League Baseball faces its own internal hurdles when it comes to safely getting the season off the ground and completing it.

But as the White Sox understand it, there might not be reason to believe Mayor Lightfoot would be throwing a separate wrench into the difficult task of playing the 2020 baseball season.


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Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

One of the most popular questions surrounding the White Sox, as they head into a season unlike any other, has lingered throughout the three-month layoff.

What kind of rookie year will Luis Robert have?

Things have obviously changed since March, when spring training came to an abrupt halt and everyone on the South Side had to wait indefinitely to see Robert play his first major league game. The wait is over, but Robert's first taste of the bigs will come in a shortened, 60-game season. The hype is still there, sure — and for good reason — but as past hyped White Sox prospects like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez have shown, it can take time to adjust to major league pitching and start playing up to expectations.

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Moncada went through a full season's worth of struggles in 2018, striking out 217 times before having a huge 2019 campaign and emerging as the team's best all-around player.

So when he shares confidence that Robert's going to do just fine in his rookie season, it might not be a bad idea to listen.

"He’s a young guy with a lot of talent. Everybody saw that during the spring," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "I think for him, the key is to just play his game, don’t feel pressure, and with the support of all of us, he’s going to be good. I’m very confident he’s going to have a very, very good season just because of the talent he has."

The talent is obvious. Robert garnered preseason expectations as a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors because he's a true five-tool threat who spent last season wowing minor league crowds with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field.

The hype is real.

“He can do it on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said back in February. “He’ll hit a 400-plus-foot home run one day, and then he’ll make a Superman catch in the outfield. It seems like he can do it all. Stealing bases every day. He’s definitely the complete package.”

But how will the unpredictable circumstances of 2020 affect Robert? How they will affect anyone remains a mystery until teams start workouts this week and start playing games a few weeks later. One thing we can calculate at the moment is time, and Robert won't have much of it to make any necessary adjustments.

We saw it take far more than 60 games for Jimenez to get used to the way big league pitchers were attacking him last season. He figured it out eventually, started launching balls over the center-field fence and had a torrid final month to his rookie campaign. Robert won't have the same luxuries in 2020.

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

But he will have resources, the same ones he was expected to be able to lean on before the pandemic wiped so much of the season off the calendar. Moncada has benefited so much from Jose Abreu's mentorship, and there's no doubt that Abreu and Moncada both will offer any advice they have to their countryman Robert.

"I passed through that process, and Abreu was there helping me through the process and that was very helpful," Moncada said Wednesday. "And I think for (Robert), it’s going to be the same. We’re going to be there for whatever he needs, for whatever questions that he has. That’s going to be very helpful for him. We’re always going to be there for him."

They'll just have to be there from six feet away.


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