White Sox

Sale superb, victorious in first career start

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Sale superb, victorious in first career start

CLEVELAND -- Chris Sale won his first career start, limiting Cleveland to one run in 6 2-3 innings and leading the Chicago White Sox to a 4-2 win over the Indians on Monday night.Sale pitched out of Chicago's bullpen the past two seasons but moved into the rotation after ace Mark Buehrle left as a free agent this winter. The left-hander, who had made 79 relief appearances, took a one-hit shutout into the sixth. In his longest outing, Sale allowed three hits and struck out five.The 23-year-old had little trouble with a Cleveland team that came in batting .153.Rookie Hector Santiago gave up Jose Lopez's leadoff homer in the ninth before getting his second save.A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer in the first, four batters after Alejandro De Aza homered leading off against Josh Tomlin (0-1).Indians manager Manny Acta rested some of his left-handed regulars after a long season-opening series with Toronto and because of how tough Sale can be on lefties.It didn't do much good.Sale handled Cleveland's right-handed hitters, too.When the White Sox selected Sale in the first round in 2010, the team's immediate need was for a reliever and he had been reliable in that role. But Buehrle's departure left open a spot in the rotation and the White Sox decided to convert Sale. If his first start is any indication, he seems to be in the right spot.Sale coasted into the seventh before giving up a leadoff single to Shelley Duncan. He came back and got Jason Kipnis to hit into a double play, but manager Robin Ventura, who said before the game that Sale was not on a strict pitch count, decided 100 was enough and pulled his young lefty.As he stepped into Chicago's dugout, Sale was warmly greeted by high-fives from his teammates.The White Sox needed just five batters to double their home run total for the season in the first.De Aza connected on Tomlin's fourth pitch for Chicago's first leadoff homer since Oct. 2, 2009. Paul Konerko hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera caught up to but didn't field cleanly. Pierzynski followed by rocketing a 2-0 pitch into the lower seats in right to make it 3-0.The three runs matched the entire amount allowed by Cleveland starters Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe in 22 innings.Tomlin dusted himself off after the rough beginning and recorded his seventh strikeout in the fifth before De Aza doubled with two outs and scored when Brent Morel lined an RBI single off first baseman Lopez's glove.Sale allowed only Aaron Cunningham's two-out single in the second and carried a 4-0 lead into the sixth before the Indians finally scored.With two outs, Sale hit Shin-Soo Choo on the left hand, sending Cleveland's right fielder sprawling in the dirt near home plate. Last season, Choo missed eight weeks after his left thumb was broken by San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez and needed surgery. Choo stayed in and promptly stole second before Carlos Santana brought him home with a single to right.Chicago's bullpen had not allowed an earned run in 8 2-3 innings before Lopez connected in the ninth, hammering a 2-2 pitch off the foul pole in left.Notes
White Sox RF Alex Rios had a Little League-like error in the seventh when he dropped a routine fly that bounced embarrassingly off his glove. ... Acta remains confident RHP Roberto Hernnandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, will rejoin the Indians at some point this season. Acta spoke to Hernandez on Sunday and reported the 31-year-old, who has been pitching at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic to stay in shape, is "a little antsy." Acta was asked if he will call Hernandez "Roberto" or "Fausto" when he returns. "I never called him Fausto," Acta said. "I always called him Grande' (big)." ... Konerko, who needs four homers to reach 400 for his career, tied Hall of Famer Luke Appling for second place in club history with 3,528 total bases. ... The White Sox plan to tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Tuesday. ... Pierzynski is the only catcher in baseball to record 1,000 or more innings caught in each of the last 10 seasons. He's three shy of 1,500 career games.
Box scoreCopyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.