White Sox

Sloppy White Sox stymied by Cueto, Reds in Game 1

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Sloppy White Sox stymied by Cueto, Reds in Game 1

The first game of Saturday’s White Sox-Reds doubleheader was full of odd occurrences early and sloppy play late.

En route to losing 10-4 to the Reds, White Sox starter Hector Noesi was knocked out of the game in the second when Billy Hamilton’s comebacker drilled him in the lower back, causing a contusion and day-to-day injury status.

“Yeah, it got him in a good spot, I guess,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It tightened up on him. At this point it’s just day-to-day.”

After the bottom of the second ended with Tyler Flowers and Micah Johnson striking out looking, hitting coach Todd Steverson was ejected — for the first time as an MLB coach, no less.

And Cincinnati’s lead could’ve been greater had it not made three outs at home plate. Brandon Phillips hit into a rare 2-3-2 double play to end the third, Avisail Garcia threw out Zack Cozart on a fly ball to end the fourth and Skip Schumaker was tagged out trying to score on a wild pitch in the eighth.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Reds starter Johnny Cueto was largely unhittable throughout the afternoon, allowing only a solo home run to Alexei Ramirez (the 100th of his career) before the White Sox plated three in the ninth charged to him. He threw 8 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Scott Carroll came in cold out of the bullpen in relief of Noesi and ate up 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and one strikeout. Cincinnati got on the board in the seventh when Johnson couldn’t quickly fire Ramirez’s feed to first base for a shot at a double play, allowing Jay Bruce to score the first run. Schumaker followed with an RBI double, and the Reds tacked on a third run on Bruce’s groundout in the eighth.

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“Scotty came in and filled in great,” manager Robin Ventura said. “When Hector goes out, getting him on the line drive, you’re trying to steal some innings and keep it close and Scotty did a good job of doing that. And right there at the end we couldn’t throw some strikes.”

Ventura was alluding to Dan Jennings’ in the ninth-inning implosion in which he allowed four runs on RBI singles to Phillips and Schumaker, a bases-loaded walk to Kristopher Negron (who has a .111 batting average) and an RBI sacrifice fly to Hamilton. He was pulled after throwing 39 pitches, 19 for strikes, and Marlon Byrd ripped a three-run homer on Jake Petricka’s first pitch to cap a seven-run frame.

The White Sox finished the first game with two errors, three wild pitches and eight walks issued 

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

The White Sox lost Saturday night.

That’s baseball, of course, they’re not all going to be winners. And this rebuilding franchise has seen plenty of losses. But the feelings have been so good of late — whether because of Eloy Jimenez’s 400-foot homers or Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young caliber season to this point or a variety of other positive signs that make the White Sox future so bright — that losing Saturday to the first-place New York Yankees seemed rather sour.

Obviously there will be plenty more losses for this White Sox team before the book closes on the 2019 campaign. Back under .500, these South Siders aren’t expected to reach elite status before all the pieces arrive, and it would be no shock if they’re removed from the playoff race in the American League by the time crunch time rolls around in September.

But don’t tell these White Sox that an 8-4 defeat is a return to reality or a reminder that this team is still a work in progress. Even if, for a lot of players, development is still occurring at the major league level, the “learning experiences” that have been such a large part of the conversation surrounding this team in recent seasons and their daily goal of winning baseball games aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Yankees are sitting in first place and they lost two games in a row,” catcher James McCann said Saturday night, providing a reminder of how the first two games of this weekend series went. “Just because you're expected to win and expected to be World Series contenders doesn't mean you're not going to lose ballgames. It's how you bounce back.

“And it doesn't mean you're going to win tomorrow, either. It's just, how do you handle a defeat? How do you handle a bad at-bat? How do you handle a bad outing, whatever it may be? But it doesn't mean that we step back and say, ‘Oh, we're back under .500, we're supposed to lose.’

“We expect to win when we show up to the ballpark. You can take learning experiences whether you win or lose. Do I think a game like tonight reminds us we're supposed to be in a rebuilding mode? No. We still expect to win, and we're going to show up tomorrow with that mentality.”

Maybe that’s a description of the much-discussed “learning to win” young teams supposedly need to do on the road to contender status. Maybe that can’t happen until a team figures out how to bounce back from a defeat — until it learns how to lose and how to act in the wake of a loss.

For all McCann’s certainty about the team’s expectations on a daily basis, his explanation was peppered with questions. He said he’s seen the answer to “how do you bounce back?” from this club, and his three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday night was fairly convincing evidence that the White Sox didn’t use up all their fight just getting back to .500.

So while the White Sox know they won’t win every game — that no team will — they need to know how they handle defeat. Losing, it turns out, might end up being more instructive about when this team is ready to win.

“I think we've done a pretty good job (bouncing back),” McCann said. “You look at the road trip in Houston and Minnesota where we took two out of four from a good Houston team and then played really not very good baseball for three days in Minnesota only to come home and have an extremely good homestand.

“It's the big picture. It's not the very next day. It's not, ‘We've got to bounce back and win.’ It's not a must-win situation in the middle of June. But it's how do you handle yourself? How does a game like tonight, do you show up flat tomorrow and let it snowball into a three-, four-game spiral? Or do you fight?

“And that's what this team's been really good at doing is fighting and not giving in.”

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Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

The temperature is rising on the South Side, and if you look outside, you know it has nothing to do with Mother Nature.

Instead, it’s a heat wave coming from a fresh-faced 22-year-old slugger who’s crushing baseballs, igniting a fan base and screaming “Hi Mom!” to his actual mother whenever he spots a TV camera with its red light on.

Eloy Jimenez has arrived with the White Sox, and according to a New York Yankees All Star who has known him for years, the best is yet to come.

“Not this year, but next year, he’s going to be even better,” infielder Gleyber Torres said about Jimenez.

The two of them were signed by that team across town in 2013 when they were both 16 years old. They were practically inseparable back then, and they remain tight to this day.

“I talk with Gleyber pretty much every single day now. He’s kind of like my brother,” Jimenez said. “We haven’t lost that communication, and I think that’s good for us.”

Torres echoed similar thoughts about Jimenez.

“In my first couple years with the Cubs, he was my roommate every day. We’ve got a really good relationship. We’re like brothers. We are really good friends,” Torres said. “I’m just happy to see what he’s doing right now.”

Which, lately, has been just about everything.

There was that majestic home run Jimenez belted on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals that landed on the center field concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field, the two walks the next day when the Yankees decided to pitch around Jimenez as if he was a perennial All Star, and then the two-homer game on Friday: The first one gave the White Sox the lead, the second stuck a dagger into the Yankees, as well as the heart of his longtime friend.

“For sure, I didn’t like it,” Torres said with a smile about Jimenez’s two-homer, six-RBI game. “I’m not surprised. I knew Eloy before he signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican. He’s a big dude. The power is coming every day.”

How good can Jimenez be? Torres, who plays on a star-studded team with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, sees Jimenez reaching the same stratosphere.

“He can be a star for all of MLB. He’s just a young guy right now, but when he matures a little more, he can do everything.”

Jimenez is turning up the heat in Chicago, and it’s not even summer yet.

The South Side can’t wait for the sizzle to come.

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