White Sox

No record for Chris Sale but White Sox rally for win

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No record for Chris Sale but White Sox rally for win

Chris Sale didn’t set a major league record on Monday night but his teammates’ eighth-inning rally was a nice consolation prize.

Melky Cabrera’s two-out, two-run double capped a three-run comeback against Mark Buehrle as the White Sox topped the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 in front of 24,593 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale came up four strikeouts shy in his bid for a ninth consecutive double-digit performance, which would have established a major league record. But the left-hander outdueled his former teammate with a complete-game victory in a 114-minute contest in front of a raucous crowd. The White Sox have won five of their last six games.

“He’ll take the win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Wins are hard to come by in the league, and you can ask (Jose Quintana) or any other guy, and they’re going to take the win. He goes out there and competes every time. He would like to have (the record), but I don’t think that goes in front of getting a win for him.”

[MORE: White Sox ace Chris Sale named to AL All-Star team]

Especially a victory that appeared out of nowhere against Buehrle, who had kept the White Sox in check for seven innings.

Headed into the eighth inning the White Sox owned six hits, trailed 2-1 and had only won four times in 39 previous tries when trailing after seven innings.

But a Jose Reyes error on Gordon Beckham’s grounder to start the eighth gave the White Sox an extra out. Adam Eaton fell behind Buehrle 0-2 in the count but worked it full before he extended the inning with a two-out single to center. Jose Abreu singled on the first pitch he saw from Buehrle to tie the game at 2.

Cabrera -- who had 11 hits in his last 26 at-bats versus lefties after a 4-for-50 start -- ripped a 2-1 fastball past Josh Donaldson to give the White Sox the lead for good.

Back on the mound with a two-run lead, Sale induced a game-ending double play off Danny Valencia’s bat after he yielded two ninth-inning singles.

“It’s nice for us to be able to battle back there in late innings and get big hits,” Eaton said. “I feel like we haven’t really been able to get that big hit.

“Every start (Sale) has, he picks us up. For us to be able to pick him up in a big stance, it does a lot for the psyche of the team.”

The White Sox had only won four of the left-hander’s last eight starts despite Sale’s Herculean run to tie Pedro Martinez’s strikeout mark. Included in that stretch were consecutive 2-1 losses (Sale lost one at Tampa Bay and earned a no-decision in the other versus the Texas Rangers).

Until the eighth inning, it looked as if Sale was in line for another difficult decision against an aggressive Blue Jays lineup.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Chris Sale jersey here]

Both Sale and Buehrle responded to warm ovations from the crowd with quick, nearly identical first innings full of ground balls. Five of Sale’s first six outs came via grounders but he needed only 17 pitches to complete two scoreless innings against the highest-scoring offense in the majors.

But Toronto struck first when Chris Colabello had a solo homer to start the third inning. Donaldson’s solo drive to left in the sixth inning gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

Though Sale seemed to gain some momentum with three straight strikeouts in between the fourth and fifth innings, surpassing Martinez never seemed to be within reach. Sale didn’t record his first strikeout until he got Devon Travis looking with one out in the third inning and he didn’t get another after he got Colabello swining in the seventh.

Beyond his six strikeouts, Sale reached a two-strike count 10 different times only for Toronto hitters to put the ball in play despite additional energy from the crowd. But in the end, all that mattered to Sale -- who allowed two earned runs and six hits -- was the victory.

“Every time there’s two strikes everybody’s making some noise,” Sale said. “But it didn’t work out. I’ll take this outcome over that any day.”

“It’s one of those things, it’s cool. It’s fine. But we won the game and I’m not gonna pout at all.”

 

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: