White Sox

Too many mistakes sink White Sox in loss to Yankees

Too many mistakes sink White Sox in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK — No aspect of the White Sox performance Sunday afternoon was without its mistakes.

If any had been, they might have walked away a winner.

The White Sox didn’t catch the ball, their starting pitcher couldn’t command it, the offense missed several chances and the bullpen struggled yet again. All of that added up to a near-miss and a 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees in front of 41,979 at Yankee Stadium.

Instead of heading home with their first series win at Yankee Stadium since 2005 and a .500 road trip, the White Sox traveled back to Chicago with their fourth loss in five games. However, they maintained a five-game lead in the American League Central as Cleveland lost again to Minnesota.

“It was a good back and forth game, but it was a frustrating one at times too,” catcher Alex Avila said. “We weren’t able to make that one pitch, two or three mistakes today on the pitching side, and we weren’t able to get that hit to make it a two- or three-run lead.”

The bullpen will catch much of the heat for Sunday’s loss. But the mistakes could be found in almost every nook and cranny.

Ultimately, the Yankees scored four times against White Sox relievers in their final three times at bat.

Zach Duke surrendered a go-ahead, two-run shot to Carlos Beltran in the sixth, the 400th home run of the outfielder’s career putting the Yankees ahead 5-4. Chase Headley’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh off Matt Albers broke a 5-all tie. And Brian McCann added a critical insurance run with a solo homer off Nate Jones in the eighth.

“You always know there are going to be blips in there at some point,” manager Robin Ventura said.

The defense played a role, too.

Brett Lawrie’s throwing error in the sixth ended a 12-game errorless stretch for the White Sox — the longest in franchise history — and brought Beltran to the plate with the tying run aboard. Instead of staying with Dan Jennings, Ventura opted for Duke, who had retired Beltran in 22 of 27 career meetings. But Duke left a 2-2 fastball up, and Beltran planted it in the left-field bleachers for a two-run shot and 5-4 Yankee lead.

Lawrie also skipped a throw in the first inning that Jose Abreu couldn’t scoop, which allowed the first batter of the game (Jacoby Ellsbury) to reach against Miguel Gonzalez. Ellsbury later scored on a Beltran sac fly that made it a 1-0 game.

“It’s going to happen,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We worry about the mental mistakes, not the physical ones because we know eventually it’s going to happen.”

Making his second straight start, Gonzalez struggled with command and only lasted 4 2/3 innings. He walked five batters, hit another and gave up three earned runs and five hits before giving way to Jennings.

“Control wasn’t there today,” Gonzalez said. “Ball was moving a lot. I tried to stay under control, kept the team in the game. It was a battle out there.

“I thought I could have gone more, but that control wasn’t there. It’s part of the game sometimes.”

The offense also was susceptible to a mistake or two, too.

Though the group finished a strong road trip with five more runs, giving it 37 in six games, missed opportunities were everywhere.

The White Sox stranded nine runners.

No chance was bigger than the one in the seventh, when the White Sox tied the game against Dellin Betances but couldn’t convert despite having two runners in scoring position and none out.

Abreu and Frazier singled to open the inning, and Melky Cabrera doubled in a run to make it 5-5. But Lawrie grounded out, and Betances struck out Avisail Garcia and Avila to keep it even.

The White Sox — who struck out 12 times — also stranded a pair of runners in the second, third and fifth innings.

“We had a lot of guys, second and third and couldn’t get them in.,” Ventura said. “But there was some tough pitching going on out there. It’s a tough go, and it’s a tough day.

“We just couldn’t hold it. We’d get a lead, they kept fighting back, and even for us, late, the seventh inning you end up tying it back up, but we just couldn’t pin it down.”

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.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.