White Sox

Poor pitching, outfield play hurts White Sox in loss to Tigers

Poor pitching, outfield play hurts White Sox in loss to Tigers

Austin Jackson’s injury has significantly impacted the White Sox for a second straight night.

A combination of bad starting pitching and poor outfield play in the absence of their injured center fielder was too much for the White Sox to overcome on Tuesday in an 11-8 loss to the Detroit Tigers in front of 17,403 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Miguel Gonzalez struggled and misplays by Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera didn’t help the White Sox any as they lost for the eighth time in 11 games. A night after James Shields allowed seven runs in five innings, Gonzalez yielded seven more and lasted only 3 1/3 frames. Tyler Saladino homered in the losing effort and drove in four runs.

“The good news is we had some offense,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The bad news is we couldn't stop their offense. It's tough when early on it goes that way. At least our guys came out swinging, that's a good sign. That's a rough start, two days in a row. It kind of wears on your bullpen, multiple-inning guys and being able to survive that.”

It was pretty apparent from the outset that Gonzalez wasn’t on his game.

The Tigers scored a run in the first and twice more in the second to grab a 3-0 lead.

But Gonzalez battled and appeared to retire Miguel Cabrera on a routine fly to the right-field corner after he started the third inning with a leadoff walk of Jose Iglesias. Garcia misjudged the ball, however, and it dropped on the track and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.

The misplay came a night after Garcia had at least three other poor plays, including an error when he kicked away a Miguel Cabrera double. It also paved the way for an extremely painful inning for the White Sox, who had to stay with Gonzalez even when he ran into control issues. Ventura said it’s a possibility the White Sox would play J.B. Shuck in the field over Garcia in Wednesday night’s series finale.

With their bullpen taxed having pitched 28 2/3 innings over the previous seven days, the White Sox needed length from Gonzalez. But he walked four batters in the frame, including one with the bases loaded to fall behind 6-2. Gonzalez almost walked Ian Kinsler with the bases loaded, too, but got a called third strike to avoid further damage.

Gonzalez was knocked out of the game in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled with one out.

“When I was ahead I couldn’t finish hitters,” Gonzalez said. “It was pretty frustrating. First couple innings you try and set the tone and early in the game it didn’t happen. The ball was up, I made mistakes and they capitalized.

“We put up eight runs and don’t get the win. Me, I have to do a better job keeping the team in the game and minimizing damage.”

Matt Purke took over and immediately issued a walk and yielded one of three doubles by J.D. Martinez to make it 7-2. In a repeat of Monday’s game, Melky Cabrera misplayed Justin Upton’s base hit into a two-run triple.

It’s the second straight poor outing turned in by the White Sox outfield since Jackson was placed on the disabled list on Friday with a left meniscus injury. With Adam Eaton now in center instead of right field, where he has produced a major-league high 16 Defensive Runs Saved, the White Sox have looked out of sorts.

The White Sox expect Jackson will miss at least six weeks.

“We had it where it was going pretty good when we had Austin out there and Adam was in right,” Ventura said before the game. “It becomes something that you notice right away — when one piece is missing it seems a little off kilter. We're just going to have to get better.

“(Garcia is) just going to have to work on it. He's going to have to get better and find a way to get past that.”

Purke recovered and delivered 2 2/3 innings for the White Sox. Rookie Michael Ynoa followed with two scoreless innings in his major league debut. Dan Jennings allowed a run in the ninth.

Those efforts allowed the White Sox another chance to attempt an epic rally against Tigers pitching.

Trailing 1-0, the White Sox plated two runs against Jordan Zimmermann in the first inning. Tim Anderson doubled and scored when Eaton’s bunt base hit was thrown away by Mike Aviles. Eaton scored on Melky Cabrera’s sac fly.

The White Sox rallied for three runs — all with two outs — in the fourth off Zimmermann. Shuck singled in a run and Saladino blooped in two more to make it 10-5.

The White Sox added a run in the fifth when Eaton tripled and scored on a Jose Abreu sac fly. But Zimmermann settled in and retired eight of the last nine he faced to hold the White Sox at bay.

Down five, the White Sox continued to apply pressure in the ninth as Shuck doubled and Saladino homered off Mark Lowe.

“(The deficit) is tough, but you’ve got to embrace that, you gotta enjoy that kind of stuff,” Saladino said. “We do. That’s part of competition. If you’re not on top or you are on top, you keep trying to bury them. If you’re down, you get back on top. It’s just competition. Get after it every day.”

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: