White Sox

No relief for White Sox as bullpen falters in loss to Rays


No relief for White Sox as bullpen falters in loss to Rays

A steady force much of the season, the White Sox bullpen faltered on Monday night.

Mikie Mahtook singled with two outs in the ninth inning off David Robertson to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-4 victory in front of 16,496 at U.S. Cellular Field. Robertson, Zach Duke and Jake Petricka all surrendered runs in consecutive innings as the White Sox lost for the fourth time in five tries to fall to 50-54. Jose Abreu and Carlos Sanchez both homered in the losing effort, and the White Sox stranded a man in scoring position after the potential tying run was thrown out at home with no outs in the ninth.

“They’re human — we know that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of his bullpen. “You regroup. We’ve been really good in those situations with those guys. They’ve been very effective for us, and it’s a tough one. It’s tough tonight. You come back and you get the lead and (Tampa Bay puts) up runs in every inning — the seventh, eighth and ninth — and it’s tough but you’ve got to be able to handle it and get back out there.”

Robertson looked as if he might get out of a jam in the ninth despite having runners on the corners and one out. After a walk of Logan Forsythe and a one-out single by Asdrubal Cabrera, Robertson struck out James Loney. He blew a first-pitch fastball by Mahtook, who entered the at-bat with a .161 average. But Robertson hung a 0-1 curveball, and Mahtook yanked it into left for a go-ahead single.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Grady Sizemore hit a game-tying solo homer off Duke in the eighth inning. Sizemore also started a go-ahead rally in the seventh with a double off Jake Petricka, and he advanced to third on an error by Avisail Garcia. Evan Longoria doubled off Petricka to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.

“It's not too often you're going to see Jake, myself and David each give up a run,” Duke said. “In my case, I threw a cutter that was supposed to be away and instead, it spun right in the middle of the plate right in his swing."

“It's a tough night. We take it hard out there for sure.”

What looked to be a slow night for the White Sox offense picked up in a hurry in the sixth inning. With one out and down two, Tyler Saladino slashed a single to right center, his team’s second hit of the game off starter Nathan Karns. Abreu followed the effort with a two-run, game-tying homer to center that just got over the glove of a leaping Kevin Kiermaier at the fence.

An inning later and down by a run, Garcia doubled to left center with one out off reliever Steve Geltz and moved to third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Sanchez crushed a 1-1 fastball from Geltz for a two-run homer to right to put the White Sox ahead 4-3.

Down a run, the White Sox continued to fight in the ninth as Alexei Ramirez singled off Brad Boxberger and stole second base. Adam LaRoche then singled to shallow center, but Ramirez was sent home by third-base coach Joe McEwing and thrown out easily with LaRoche advancing to second on the play. Boxberger struck out Garcia and Sanchez lined out to right field to strand the tying run.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox


Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox


Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”