White Sox

Mistakes abound as White Sox lose to Twins


Mistakes abound as White Sox lose to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — John Danks took the blame for Monday night’s loss and there’s no question he played a significant role in the outcome.

But make no mistake: the White Sox lost 13-2 to the Minnesota Twins in front of 24,094 at Target Field behind a team effort. The White Sox made three outs on the bases, committed three errors and Danks allowed nine runs in 5 1/3 innings as Minnesota won the eighth of 11 meetings between the teams.

“I stunk,” Danks said. “There’s really no other way to put it. Wasn’t good in the bullpen, wasn’t good in the game. Made bad pitches, got hit. Got to throw early strikes, get ahead, make quality pitches. I did none of those.”

His teammates didn’t cross off many of the necessary boxes to win a ballgame behind him.

It began innocently enough on the bases.

[MORE: White Sox: Melky Cabrera's bat has heated up in June]

Trailing 1-0, the White Sox rallied on a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single by Adam LaRoche in the third inning. The White Sox appeared to be in line for a big inning as Alexei Ramirez followed with another two-out hit — something they sorely lacked — but Melky Cabrera was thrown out at home after he appeared to look back to locate the ball. Byron Buxton fired a rope from center to throw Cabrera out by two steps to end the inning.

Gordon Beckham started the fourth with a single to shallow center, a play that took the middle infielders far away from the base. Beckham hustled and tried to sneak into second only to be easily thrown out as pitcher Tommy Milone covered and tagged the runner out.

Geovany Soto followed Beckham with a double to right and one out later, he was thrown out on the bases. Soto headed for third on Adam Eaton’s fielder’s choice and rather than throw to first — where he likely would have had time to retire Eaton for the final out — Trevor Plouffe started an inning-ending rundown to retire Soto.

“Right now we’re just not finding a way to win the game, make the plays to win the game, getting the knocks to win the game,” Beckham said. “We’re just not finding the way to do it.”

The three outs on the bases gives the White Sox 36 for the season, which is how many Tampa Bay, who had the most OOB in the majors, had to start the day.

Then the defense took over.

Shortly after Joe Mauer tied the game at 2 with a solo homer off Danks, the defense let things get out of hand. Danks walked Torii Hunter but appeared to get a routine double play off the bat of Plouffe only for Ramirez to throw over the head of second baseman Carlos Sanchez and into right field. On the next play, Cabrera hauled in a routine fly to left and Ramirez didn’t catch his relay throw, which struck Hunter and allowed Plouffe to advance to second base on an error. Kurt Suzuki made it 3-2 with a sac fly and Kennys Vargas put the Twins ahead by two runs with a two-out single to left.

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Three more errors give the White Sox 49 on the season, the sixth-most in the majors.

“There’s one of that you should have made, we know that,” Ventura said. “At that point it does get frustrating, but that wasn’t the reason for the game.”

“We made some mistakes but they swung it, too.”

Danks left one up to Eduardo Nunez, who homered to give Minnesota a 6-2 lead. Two innings later, Danks gave up three more hits, including a massive three-run homer to Vargas as the Twins went up 9-2.

Danks — who entered the game with a 5.16 ERA — has allowed 14 homers in 80 1/3 innings this season. Last season, Danks gave up 25 homers in 193 2/3 innings.

The Twins’ power surge wasn’t finished as Hunter doubled in two more runs in the sixth inning off Scott Carroll. Then in the eighth, Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer off reliever Junior Guerra.

“It wasn’t for a lack of trying, lack of care,” Danks said of the Ramirez error. “Just the game of baseball. That play had no bearing on any pitches after that. It was my job to pick him up and I didn’t do it. That play had no bearing on the sixth inning, either. “That’s not why we lost the game.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka


Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?


Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.