White Sox

Royals push past White Sox 5-4 to secure sweep

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Royals push past White Sox 5-4 to secure sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals are living the charmed life and the White Sox aren’t.

Part of the Royals’ luxurious existence, one that has afforded them an 11-game lead in the American League Central, is their dominance of the White Sox this season. Some it is has been good fortune.

On Sunday afternoon, the White Sox saw a convergence of both in the eighth inning as they dropped a 5-4 decision to Kansas City, their 10th loss in 13 tries against their divisional foe in 2015. With a one-run victory in each game, the Royals swept the White Sox, who have lost eight of their past 10.

“It’s always tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You see opportunities you have -- we’ve had some guys on third base, haven’t been able to get them in, and they all add up.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

This series was all about a very good team that added Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline taking advantage of a squad that has middle at its best the entire season.

Sure, Kansas City benefitted from a series of nice bounces each of the last two days.

But they also put themselves in the correct position to receive that good luck and they have done so all season, especially this weekend.

With the score tied at 4 and one out in the eighth, Jake Petricka put himself and the White Sox in a difficult spot as Alex Rios singled and Paulo Orlando hit a ground-rule double to left center. And then, even though the White Sox had the infield drawn in and Petricka got his 2-seamer in on the hands and Jose Abreu made a nice play, the Royals still managed to take a 5-4 lead.

Omar Infante got enough of Petricka’s pitch to place it in the right spot where even though Abreu made a nice barehanded stop he couldn’t make an accurate enough throw to cut down Rios, who made a nice read and slide home.

It was the kind of play where “if everything went perfect” the White Sox would have kept the score tied. But it hasn’t been that kind of season for the White Sox, who dropped to seven games below the .500 mark. The Royals have won five of six one-run games against the White Sox in 2015.

“The team that puts the ball in play gets breaks like that,” Petricka said. “Hats off to a team that just fights like that.

“They play hard every game. We were playing just as hard, we just didn’t get the break this time. You can always say you missed an opportunity, but it’s just a break one way or another. We got ourselves into situations, they got lucky and got out of them. We just kind of missed one break.”

[MORE: Jose Abreu back to 2014 levels of production]

The White Sox didn’t answer back in the ninth against Ryan Madson and dropped 14 1/2 back of the AL Central leaders.

A series sweep looked like a mere formality after the first inning as Kansas City scored three times against Jose Quintana, including two on a homer by Kendrys Morales. But Quintana battled through and found his form, lasting into the seventh inning. Quintana allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

“It was hard,” Quintana said. “We played the first-place team in the division and tried to get wins, but all three games were for one run. It’s hard, but we need to come back.”

The White Sox tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Kelvin Herrera on a two-out RBI single by Melky Cabrera. They earlier rallied from a 3-0 deficit against Danny Duffy, who lasted 3 1/3 innings. Gordon Beckham had an RBI single and Alexei Ramirez singled in two more in a third-inning rally.

But the White Sox missed out on several earlier opportunities, too. They had runners on the corners and one out in the fourth but Kris Medlen struck out Tyler Flowers and got Beckham to fly out. Adam Eaton, who scored the tying run after he doubled to start the eighth inning, drew a leadoff walk against Medlen in the fifth but was picked off first base. A night earlier, Geovany Soto was picked off second base with a full count and Abreu at the plate. The White Sox rallied back on Saturday too but came up empty.

“These guys are grinding,” Ventura said. “They’re not laying down. They continue to battle back. … We just didn’t get it done.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins hit two home runs as part of a three-hit day. He drove in two runs, scored two runs and walked once in a 10-4 loss. Collins now has seven homers on the campaign with an ungodly .421 on-base percentage. He's batting .326 over his last 25 games. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and a walk, and Jordan Guerrero gave up four runs and walked five in four innings.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash lost both games of a doubleheader, 10-5 and 7-0. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Gavin Sheets each picked up two hits on the day.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and scored a run in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 2-1 win.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.