White Sox

Todd Frazier hurt as White Sox struggle late again in loss to Rangers

Todd Frazier hurt as White Sox struggle late again in loss to Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre and the Texas Rangers sure know how to make a comeback, or three.

Beltre had the tiebreaking RBI single soon after his long errorless streak ended and his team fell behind, and the Rangers overcame three deficits for the second consecutive game in less than 24 hours against the American League's top team, beating the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday.

"To keep grinding away . we never gave up," outfielder Ian Desmond said. "We had a goal to win that series and we came out and did it. It's a good sign."

The Rangers (20-15) moved a season-high five games over .500, while the White Sox still had the AL's best record at 23-12.

In an eventful game for third basemen, Beltre had a throwing error in top of the sixth to end his streak of 44 games without an error that dated back to last September and was the second longest in the career for the four-time Gold Glove winner - he had a 53-game streak in 2006.

That error led to an unearned run that put the White Sox ahead 5-4. But the Rangers got even in the bottom of the inning on Desmond's second RBI single before Beltre had the go-ahead hit.

White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier got his 10th RBI in the three-game series with his homer leading off the fourth. But he left the game in the bottom of that inning when he cut his lower lip and needed five stitches after falling hard face-first into one of the arm rests attached to the seats in the first row while chasing Prince Fielder's foul pop. Frazier said he also bit a small hole through his tongue.

"My momentum took me into the stands, and my head went right into the arm rest. Basically, I felt my tongue went through my bottom lip," Frazier said. "Ice it up a lot and I'll be good to go for Friday."

Tony Barnette (2-2) got the final out in the sixth after taking over for starter Cole Hamels before Tom WilhelmsenJake Diekman and Sam Dyson each worked an inning. Dyson hit the first batter to start the ninth, but benefited from a strikeout-caught stealing double play for his first save.

Dan Jennings (1-1) allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings.

After Frazier's third homer in the series, and 11th of the season, tied the game, Melky Cabrera followed with a single and Lawrie homered into the White Sox bullpen in left field for a 4-2 lead. Bullpen catcher Adam Ricks caught Lawrie's deep fly, reaching up with his bare hand to make the grab.

Texas, which rallied late Tuesday night for a 13-11 win, had tied the series finale at 4 in the fifth when Fielder looped a two-run double down the left field line with the White Sox defense shifted the other way.

"It's great to see these guys never quit," Hamels said. "Everybody has a part in it. It's been a fun 24 hours."

Hamels struck out nine with no walks in 5 2/3 innings but also gave up nine hits, the most the ace left-hander has allowed in his 19 starts for the Rangers since they acquired him in a trade last summer. He ended up with a no decision and his career-best 11-game winning streak stayed intact though not extended.

TAKE THURSDAYS OFF

The Rangers have scheduled off days on four consecutive Thursdays, starting this week. Texas was the only team to play 13 consecutive games to start the season, and the finale against the White Sox was its 22nd game in 23 days since then.

PITCHER SWAP

The Rangers recalled left-hander Andrew Faulkner from Round Rock before the game and sent right-hander Anthony Ranaudo back to the Triple-A team. Ranaudo on Tuesday night became the first Texas pitcher to issue five walks in an inning since Rich Harden in May 2010, and first reliever since Mitch Williams in May 1988.

TRAINER'S ROOM

White Sox: After Frazier got stitched up, the White Sox said he is day to day.

Rangers: An MRI on A.J. Griffin's shoulder showed no issues. The right-hander will be able to resume throwing as soon as the inflammation subsides. Before joining the Rangers this season, Griffin (3-0, 2.94 ERA) hadn't pitched in the majors since 2013 because of right elbow surgery and a right shoulder strain. He went on the 15-day disabled list Sunday after coming out of his last start with shoulder stiffness.

UP NEXT

White Sox: Chicago has a day off Thursday before a three-game series at the New York Yankees starting Friday night.

Rangers: The Rangers open a three-game series at home Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Michael Kopech hasn't had a good June, but that hasn't changed White Sox optimism regarding top pitching prospect

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AP

Michael Kopech hasn't had a good June, but that hasn't changed White Sox optimism regarding top pitching prospect

It wasn’t long ago that the question was: “Why isn’t Michael Kopech pitching in the major leagues?”

The question is now firmly: “What’s wrong with Michael Kopech?”

The new script is of course a reflection of how quickly opinions change during a baseball season, when “what have you done for me lately?” tends to drive the conversation more than looking at the entire body of work.

But the body of work doesn’t look too awesome for the White Sox top-ranked pitching prospect these days. He carries a 5.08 ERA through 14 starts with Triple-A Charlotte. But it’s the recent struggles that have folks second guessing whether he’s ready for the big leagues.

The month of June hasn’t gone well for Kopech, who has a 9.00 ERA in four starts this month. That features two especially ugly outings, when he allowed seven runs in two innings and five runs in three outings. But for a guy who’s got blow-em-away stuff, it’s the walks that are of the utmost concern to box-score readers: He’s got 21 of them in 16 innings over his last four starts. That’s compared to 20 strikeouts.

More walks than strikeouts is never a good thing, and it’s been a glaring bugaboo for White Sox pitchers at the major league level all season. Kopech wasn’t having that problem when this season started out. He struck out 68 batters and walked only 25 over his first 10 starts. But things have changed.

With director of player development Chris Getz on the horn Thursday to talk about all of the promotions throughout the minor league system, he was asked about Kopech and pointed to Wednesday’s outing, which lasted only five innings and featured four more walks. But Kopech only allowed two earned runs, and Getz called it a good outing.

“Last night I was really happy with what he was able to do, and that’s really in comparison looking at his last probably four outings or so,” Getz said. “He did have a little bit of a hiccup, getting a little erratic. He was getting a little quick in his delivery, his lower half wasn’t picking up with his upper half. The command of his pitches was not there.

“But last night, although the line is not the best line that we’ve seen of Michael this year, it was still a very good outing. He was in the zone, commanding the fastball. His body was under control. He threw some good breaking pitches, a couple of good changeups. He was back to being the competitor we are accustomed to. We are hoping to build off of this outing. I know he’s feeling good about where he’s at from last night and we’ll just kind of go from there.”

It’s important to note, of course, that the White Sox are often looking for things that can’t be read in a box score. So when we see a lot of walks or a lot of hits or a small amount of strikeouts, that doesn’t tell the whole story nor does it count as everything the decision makers in the organization are looking at.

Still, this is development and growth in action — and perhaps a sign that the White Sox have been right in not yet deeming Kopech ready for the majors. Kopech perhaps needs the time at Triple-A to work through these issues rather than be thrown into a big league fire.

As for how these struggles will affect his timeline, that remains to be seen. The White Sox aren’t ruling anything out, not promising that he’ll be on the South Side before the end of this season but certainly not ruling it out either.

“If he builds off of what he did last night, commanding his fastball, his breaking pitches continue to kind of define themselves, I think we’ve got a chance to see him,” Getz said. “He’s going to find his way to the big leagues. He’s going to be an impact frontline type starter. I’m very confident in that.

“Now just like a lot of great players, sometimes it’s a meandering path. And to say that he’s gone off track is not fair because it’s only been a couple of outings. I think he’s in a really good spot. If he builds off of this, I don’t think it’s unfair to think he’ll be up here at some point.”

Dylan Cease promoted to Double-A as he continues to impress White Sox: 'He's more or less forced our hand'

Dylan Cease promoted to Double-A as he continues to impress White Sox: 'He's more or less forced our hand'

Rick Hahn’s been saying it all year: The good ones have a way of forcing the issue.

Consider Dylan Cease one of the good ones.

The pitcher acquired alongside top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez in last summer’s crosstown trade with the Cubs was one of the more than a dozen players promoted within the White Sox farm system Thursday. He put up stellar numbers during the first half with Class A Winston-Salem and because of it is on his way to Double-A Birmingham.

While many rebuild-loving fans could’ve forecasted Jimenez’s rapid journey through the organization, Cease’s acceleration is one that even the White Sox are considering a “pleasant surprise.”

“There’s definitely been some pleasant surprises,” Chris Getz, the White Sox director of player development, said Thursday. “For one, I think Dylan Cease was a guy, heading into the season, his first full year with us, the focus was: every fifth day, a full season’s worth of innings. He’s more or less forced our hand.

“He's really come on, he’s pitching with four pitches, four plus pitches, he’s commanding the ball, very mature kid. And he’s certainly ready for the next challenge at Double-A.”

Cease turned in a 2.89 ERA in his 13 starts with Winston-Salem, striking out 82 batters in 71.2 innings. Considering he made just 25 starts above Rookie ball during his time in the Cubs’ organization, the dominance in his first taste of High A is quite the positive for the White Sox.

The team’s starting rotation of the future is a mighty crowded one, with roughly a dozen different guys competing for those spots: current big leaguers Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito; Triple-A arms Michael Kopech, Carson Fulmer, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams; Double-A hurlers Cease, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning; and Class A pitchers Lincoln Henzman and Blake Battenfield, both of whom earned their own promotions Thursday.

There’s a lot of time before the White Sox have to settle on which five will make up that future starting staff. But Cease could be doing the work of making a name for himself, something that hasn’t been easy to do. With all the love he’s getting, he’s still the organization’s fourth-ranked pitching prospect. Heck, thanks to Jimenez, he wasn’t the top-ranked guy in his own trade.

But Cease is getting attention now, and if he keeps pitching like this, he could keep forcing the White Sox hand.