White Sox

Sloppy White Sox fall to Yankees in the Bronx

Sloppy White Sox fall to Yankees in the Bronx

NEW YORK — In winning six of their first 11 games, the White Sox pitched well, played great defense and received an appropriate amount of offense. 

But none of those elements was present until it was too late on Monday night. Several missed offensive opportunities, defensive mistakes and pitches left over the plate by Derek Holland sent the White Sox to a 7-4 loss in front of 28,181 at Yankee Stadium. The White Sox stranded several early base runners, committed two errors and Holland yielded two long home runs in the series opener. Yolmer Sanchez hit a three-run homer for the White Sox, who brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. Aroldis Chapman earned the save for the Yankees, who scored five runs in the third inning en route to their eighth straight victory.

"I have to make the adjustments," Holland said. "I wasn't getting the calls inside. I have to adjust to that. Overall I didn't do a good job of executing the way I wanted to. My stuff was great.

"When you have to live in one area, that makes it easier for them to hit the ball. I just have to make a better adjustment.

"It was a good game except for that one inning. You take that away and it's a different game. What it all comes down to, no matter what, is I have to make those adjustments."

The defense forced Holland — who allowed seven runs (six earned) and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings — to make several additional pitches early on. Holland pitched out of a jam in the second inning after Tim Anderson made a throwing error. But he didn't have the same luck in the third.

With one out and a man on first, Jose Abreu bobbled Jacoby Ellsbury's slow roller to the right side and didn't get the ball to Tyler Saladino in time for the out at first. While the official scorer ruled it a hit, the play easily could have resulted in Abreu's third error. 

"I rushed it a little bit, and once you rush the play, things usually happen," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I wasn't paying attention to (Ellsbury's) speed. I just wanted to make the play quickly, and once I tried to rush it, I messed up."

Aaron Hicks then grounded into a fielder's choice for what would have been the final out. But Matt Holliday made the most of the extra out as he hammered a high 2-2 fastball for a three-run homer, a 459-foot shot to left. Starlin Castro and Chase Headley then hit consecutive doubles to put the Yankees ahead 4-0 and Headley advanced to third when Melky Cabrera booted the ball. Aaron Judge's two-out single gave New York a 5-0 lead.

Two innings later, Castro singled and Judge crushed a 2-1 curveball for a two-run homer to put the Yankees ahead by seven.

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Holland and manager Rick Renteria both referred to the left-hander's gameplan to attack right-handed hitters inside. Holland threw as many as seven borderline pitches that didn't result in a called strike, according to brooksbaseball.net. 

"He went out and tried to attack these guys a certain way, they got us a little bit, and we still managed to get the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth," Renteria said.

The White Sox offense continued to sputter until they trailed by seven runs. Abreu and Avisail Garcia both stranded runners in scoring position in the first inning. The White Sox hit into double plays in the second and fourth innings against New York pitcher Jordan Montgomery and Cabrera and Abreu stranded a pair in the sixth. 

Sanchez followed singles by Garcia and Matt Davidson to open the seventh inning with a three-run blast off Montgomery, who went six-plus innings. Sanchez also singled twice and scored on an RBI double by Kevan Smith in the ninth inning. Smith's double meant the Yankees had to call upon Chapman, who yielded a first-pitch single to pinch-hitter Leury Garcia before he induced a game-ending double play off Tyler Saladino's bat.

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

The White Sox catching depth will soon be put to the test.

Saturday, the White Sox placed catcher Welington Castillo on seven-day concussion list. In a corresponding move, the team promoted catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte, 

In 26 games this season, Castillo holds a .176/.286/.318 slashline with three home runs in 85 at-bats. He exited Friday's game against the Twins in the eighth inning after taking two foul tips off of his catcher's mask. 

While White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday that Castillo didn't go into concussion protocol, the team is likely being precautious due to the nature of the injury. 

Zavala, 25, has yet to appear in the big leagues, though he's played in 360 minor league games since the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He holds a career slashline of .267/.335/.457 across all minor league levels, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. 

Zavala's slashline this season is currently below his career averages (.218/.253/.506 in 21 games), but he's hit six home runs in 87 at-bats. Last season, he hit 13 in a combined 380 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

Although the circumstances of his promotion are not ideal, Zavala is leaving Charlotte on a high-note. In last night's game against the Durham Bulls, he went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.

With Castillo out, the White Sox will likely lean on James McCann more. In 31 games this season, McCann holds a stellar .333/.373/.523 slashline

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White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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