White Sox

No support for Chris Sale as White Sox fall to Red Sox

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No support for Chris Sale as White Sox fall to Red Sox

Chris Sale was fantastic again on Wednesday night.

His offense was not.

The White Sox couldn’t keep pace against Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox. Porcello and two relievers combined on a six-hitter and Travis Shaw homered off Nate Jones to send the White Sox to a 3-0 loss in front of 17,812 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale struck out seven over seven scoreless innings but didn’t factor in the decision for the White Sox, who stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Shaw blasted a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth off Jones, the first runs the reliever has allowed since he came off the disabled list.

The White Sox lost ground in the wild-card race and now trail by 5 1/ 2 games with 37 to play.

“This is definitely crunch time --- a time to get going,” Sale said. “We know what we are up against, but you know this is baseball. This is sports. This is a crazy game. Anything can happen. We aren’t giving up on the season. We definitely aren’t going to give up on ourselves or each other. This is a good group of guys. We are pulling from the same rope. Pick each other up and keep going.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Coming off 29 strikeouts in his previous two starts, Sale kept going even though he labored early against the Red Sox. He loaded the bases in the third inning and would have in the fourth as well had it not been for a pickoff of Rusney Castillo.

But Sale, who established a personal single-season high for strikeouts when he got Shaw swinging to start the fourth, pitched out of both jams andpicked up steam. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, pitching efficiently down the stretch.

Sale allowed five hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out seven in a 119-pitch effort.

Over his last four starts, Sale has a 1.59 ERA over 28 1/3 inningswith 43 strikeouts and seven walks. He’s allowed five runs (all earned) and 15 hits.

“Playing behind him is a treat,” White Sox third baseman Tyler Saladino said. “You’re watching one of the best pitchers in the game. He does his thing out there. It’s kind of like if he lets a guy get on base it does two things. It gets you going even more because maybe a weak ground ball you can get that double play for him because he does so much for us, I guess you could say. If a guy gets on base against him you’re even more ready, but at the same time he has the ability to get right back after the next guy. It’s just awesome watching him out there.”

Not as fun? Watching the White Sox struggleagainst Porcello, who brought his best stuff.

[MORE: Confidence breeds success for Trayce Thompson]

He didn’t allow a hit until Melky Cabrera hit a ground-rule double with two outs in the fourth inning. But Cabrera, who had three hits in fourat-bats, was stranded as Avisail Garcia flew out to right center.

Adam LaRoche doubled in the fifth inning and Carlos Sanchez had a one-out infield single. But Tyler Flowers flew out to shallow right and Josh Rutledge made a nice play on Tyler Saladino’s grounder to save run and strand the pair.

The White Sox also stranded two runners in the sixth inning as Garcia struck out and LaRoche flew out.

Porcello allowed five hits and struck out five over seven innings.

Robbie Ross Jr. and Junichi Tazawa each had a scoreless inning for the Red Sox.

“Any time you have Sale out there and he's throwing up zeroes, you want to scratch something across to get something going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “So yeah, that becomes frustrating.”

“We couldn't get anything going. We finally got in some situations and got someguys in scoring position but that's as sharp as we've seen him, definitely. He was matching Chris, if not bettering him.”

In reaching 1,000 hits, Jose Abreu shows why he's this generation's Mr. White Sox

In reaching 1,000 hits, Jose Abreu shows why he's this generation's Mr. White Sox

It hasn't been difficult to figure out why Jose Abreu wants to be a part of the White Sox moving forward. He keeps telling us.

Repeated declarations of love for the organization, excitement over the rebuilding team's future and promises that he'll sign himself to a contract if the front office doesn't do it first, it's all been freely flowing from Abreu's mouth — always through team interpreter Billy Russo, of course — throughout the 2019 season.

It's worth noting, too, that the 2019 season is Abreu's sixth with the White Sox. The team has had a losing record in every one of them. But the win-loss records haven't had any kind of impact on Abreu's opinion of the organization that signed him out of Cuba ahead of the 2014 campaign.

Saturday night, Abreu reached a milestone, picking up his 1,000th career hit in the first inning. He got an ovation from the fans in the stands and the players in the third-base dugout. A special graphic flashed on the scoreboard.

The organization saluted one of its favorite sons. And after the game, he returned the favor, adding a line that might have shed some more light on why he's been so willing to state his desire to stay on the South Side forever.

"I’m very grateful with Jerry (Reinsdorf), with Kenny (Williams), with Rick Hahn, with Marco Paddy, with all the people that made this possible," he said, through Russo. "It’s not just for the money, but they made my mom’s dreams come true.

"It’s not about the money. It’s about the dream and to be able to get to this point in my career."

Now you might understand why he might not seem to care about "leverage" in any upcoming contract negotiations.

Abreu loves the White Sox, as he's repeatedly stated. And the White Sox love him right back. Their constant praise is not only directed at his production on the field, which has been outstanding since he came to the United States. He's one of three players ever — with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — to start his major league career with four seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. While certain rate stats have taken a dip in 2019, he's on pace to set a new career high in RBIs and is eight homers away from matching his career best in that category, too.

If the season ended today, he'd have a career-worst on-base percentage, but that number is climbing thanks to a red-hot August. He came into Saturday night's game slashing .337/.382/.609 on the month, and then he added a pair of hits in the loss to the Texas Rangers.

But while all that production is great, the White Sox are equally enamored with Abreu's contributions off the field. He's a role model for and a mentor to young players, specifically guys like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and, eventually, Luis Robert, who are expected to make up the core of the next contending White Sox team.

Abreu will likely be there, too, as all the above illustrates — not to mention a supposed assurance from Reinsdorf that he'll never wear another uniform.

Those young players have happily taken Abreu's guidance. Jimenez has said he's been like a father. It's not a stretch to assume that Abreu's work ethic rubbed off on Moncada, who took it upon himself to go to work this offseason and transform his fortunes from a season ago.

Abreu, in another textbook example of why this guy is so gosh darn beloved, said that results like 1,000 big league hits do make it easier to get through to his young teammates but it's not the most important thing.

"The results makes the trust easier. It makes it easier for them to believe in what you are telling them," Abreu said. "But what is most important is just for them to realize you are a good human being.

"When you are a good human being, the people around you are going to identify that and they are going to take whatever you said and the advice you are going to give them in a good way.

"That was just the way I was raised by my parents and that’s the way I have always tried to be."

There's a reason, a lot of them, actually, that the White Sox seem to hold Abreu in the same esteem as players who have their jersey numbers retired and have statues at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Those who made the laughable suggestion that the White Sox should have traded Abreu at the deadline with plans of re-signing him in the offseason seemed to miss that. Would they have made the same suggestion about Paul Konerko? Or Mark Buehrle?

Every generation has its "Mr. White Sox." Abreu has earned that title for this generation.

Ivan Nova said it best: "He's the franchise player."

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Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

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Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors. But he's also making plays like this.

Anderson does have a ton of errors, 20 of them, to be precise, a total greater than any player in baseball. He's committed at least 20 errors in each of his last three seasons, and in four major league seasons he's got 82 of them.

None of that should cancel out the great defensive improvement we saw from Anderson over the course of last season. Just because he's making a lot of errors doesn't mean he's not a good fielder, as the frequent eye-popping defensive plays he makes should illustrate.

The outside focus on Anderson this season has been on almost everything besides the defense: the offense, the attitude, the high ankle sprain, the evolution into one of this young team's leaders. All that's deserved, of course. That injured-list stay has him just outside of qualified status, and if he had it he'd own one of the highest batting averages in the American League. But defense remains a high priority for Anderson, who said he practices plays like the one from Friday night all the time.

"That's stuff I practice on," he said Saturday. "I go out before the game and I practice on those things, and I think it's starting to show now. And people are watching."

"He’s really, really good because he gets to balls most people won’t and then he completes a play like that," manager Rick Renteria said. "He’s been doing that quite a bit now for over two years. You really tip your cap to him and Joe (McEwing, White Sox infield coach), who has been steadfast working with him. For Timmy to take it upon himself to want to be the best at what he does, he continues to work very, very hard and play like that. It’s becoming a staple play like that for him in the hole."

It's true, we've seen that play an awful lot from Anderson this season, even if he was particularly and ridiculously deep Friday night.

According to Renteria, Anderson's range might be one of the reasons he's accumulated more errors than most.

"Anybody that can get to more balls than most people and have more chances (racks up more errors)," Renteria said. "Some of those plays, they are able to extend themselves to make those plays and they are not necessarily in the best position possible. But they are still capable of, with body control, trying to execute some plays.

"I think overall the more balls you can get to, the more chances you have, there’s a great chance of increasing errors — especially at shortstop, where he covers a lot of ground."

Those who watch Anderson on a nightly basis know that his error total doesn't define him as a defender at shortstop. They know he makes a ton of plays that few other shortstops make. But there will be those who scan the statistics at the end of the season and see all those errors and jump to their own conclusions.

That error total, whatever it ends up being, doesn't need to come with an asterisk. But maybe a link to some of the highlight-reel plays would be helpful.

Anderson's season deserves all the praise it's received for his offensive breakout, his excitement-generating bat flips and his rise as one of the young leaders in a group primed for such a bright future.

But remember the defense. It's a big part of what makes him a core player for this White Sox team.

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