White Sox

'Vintage' Chris Sale returns, dominates as White Sox top Twins

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'Vintage' Chris Sale returns, dominates as White Sox top Twins

Chris Sale’s 98th and final pitch of Sunday’s game was a 98 mile per hour fastball, one that whizzed past the bat of Trevor Plouffe for strike three.

And with that, the left-hander’s return to the top of the White Sox rotation was complete.

Sale struck out eight in six innings of work to lead the White Sox to a 6-2 win over Minnesota in Sunday’s rubber match in front of 23,057 at U.S. Cellular Field. The 26-year-old allowed one run on five hits with one walk in his first start against a major league club — including in spring training — since last September.

“He looked great,” manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s nothing else to say. It was vintage him.”

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Sale largely relied on his mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and upper-80’s changeup, as his slider wasn’t sharp over the course of the afternoon. Sale only threw 10 sliders and didn’t get a swing and miss on any of them, but it didn’t matter — his changeup generated six swings and misses and his fastball got 14 whiffs, according to BrooksBaseball.net.

Despite having only thrown a handful of bullpen sessions and faced a pair of Single-A squads to get ready for the season after an avulsion fracture in his foot kept him out of spring training games, Sale threw 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

“I think it’s somewhat typical of a dominant pitcher in this league,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. I’m sure (Clayton) Kershaw and all those guys have similar numbers when they’re out there, at least on their good outings. You kind of set the tone right out of the gate throwing strikes, very aggressive, he was commanding them early too so that makes it tougher on those guys.”

The White Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on an RBI single from Adam LaRoche and an RBI double from Alexei Ramirez in the first inning, and after Danny Santana doubled in a run in the top of third, LaRoche answered with a solo home run in the bottom half, his second of the season. Sale said getting that early advantage helped him get into a rhythm, which translated into him notching the White Sox first quality start of the season.

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As he and Ventura have reiterated over the course of his month-and-a-half recovery, Sale’s injury was confined to his foot and didn’t involve anything to really worry about like an elbow or shoulder. Sale and the White Sox followed a slow, calculated recovery plan — one that created enough down time for the left-hander to binge-watch "Breaking Bad" and increase his arsenal of knock-knock jokes — so when he did take the mound Sunday, he said he felt like his injury never happened.

Sale’s strong start, along with some gutsy relief work by Zach Duke and a two-run insurance home run by Gordon Beckham, gave the White Sox their first series win of the season. After an 0-4 start caused some early restlessness, the White Sox are back to blasting celebratory music in the clubhouse — Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was on the playlist Sunday — and things seem to be returning to normal for the long haul of the regular season.

And normal for Sale means, after a strong start, fielding questions about how good a pitcher he can be. If he can keep this up, the early Cy Young talk surely won’t be far around the corner, even if he isn’t too willing to entertain it.

“I’m just a pitcher,” Sale said. “You guys (the media) have all these questions for me like I can read the future and have all the answers. I’m a baseball player. I want to go out and play baseball and do the best I can. That’s all I’ve ever done and all I’m ever going to do. All the extra stuff is cool and fine, but I’ll stick to being a baseball player.”

Rick Renteria voices frustration with Reynaldo Lopez during start in Detroit

Rick Renteria voices frustration with Reynaldo Lopez during start in Detroit

Reynaldo Lopez’s outing Sunday in Detroit didn’t get off to a good start and his performance led to a couple lengthy lectures from his manager.

After giving up a two-run home run in the first inning, Lopez allowed a leadoff single to Dawel Lugo in the second. White Sox manager Rick Renteria paid Lopez an early mound visit.

This wasn’t pitching coach Don Cooper going to the mound to talk to Lopez about mechanics or strategy on the next batter. Renteria walked up, looked Lopez straight in the eye and talked at him for 15 seconds without Lopez getting in a word. At one point in the interaction, Renteria appears to say "It's time to wake up."

MLB.com’s Scott Merkin asked Renteria about the mound visit after the game. If it wasn’t clearly apparent by watching the interaction, Renteria wasn’t pleased with Lopez.


Lopez threw over to first a couple times before getting behind 2-0 to the next batter, Grayson Greiner. Greiner grounded into a double play, but former White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham homered off Lopez right after that.

Lopez gave up another run in the third and Renteria again felt the need to lecture Lopez. This time it took place in the dugout.

With Lopez sitting in the dugout, a somewhat animated Renteria pointed to the 25-year-old’s chest multiple times. Lopez simply took it in and nodded. Watch this interaction and the mound visit in the video above.

Lopez came out for the fourth inning and gave up his fifth run. He was pulled before the start of the fifth. He gave up five runs on nine hits (three home runs) in four innings in a 6-3 White Sox loss.

Lopez has a 5.57 ERA on the season, which is a big drop off from his promising 3.91 ERA in 2018. Lopez was far from a finished product last year, but showed the potential to be a long-term piece in the White Sox rotation. Now? Not so much.

If Renteria’s words about making sure Lopez “was aware that he was actually pitching today” weren’t stern enough, he continued with a more general comment about the future of the White Sox.


If that wasn’t specifically directed to Lopez, it certainly applies to him. Lucas Giolito has established himself as a lock for the 2020 rotation. Dylan Cease will be given a chance to continue to improve. Michael Kopech is coming back from injury. The White Sox likely add a starting arm either via trade or free agency this offseason.

Lopez may not be a part of the future rotation and time to show he deserves a spot is running out.

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Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

It took a couple months for Eloy Jimenez to get going in his rookie season, but the prized White Sox outfielder is meeting most reasonable expectations for his first year in the majors.

Jimenez smacked his 30th home run of the season Sunday in Detroit, which represents a notable round number milestone. Jimenez now has eight home runs in September and it’s only the 22nd of the month.

Jimenez launched a 2-0 slider to left center in his first at-bat to give the White Sox an early lead in Detroit.

A 30-home run season is a long way from the player Jimenez looked like in April and May. Entering June 1, the 22-year-old was hitting .220/.273/.390. He was struggling to lay off sliders out of the zone and looked a bit lost at the plate.

In June, Jimenez looked like the talented hitter the White Sox believed he was capable of becoming. He hit .284/.340/.602 with eight home runs, including a memorable go-ahead home run in Wrigley against the Cubs.

An injury playing the field in mid-July in Kansas City cost him a couple weeks and seemed to disrupt whatever rhythm he was building in June. This month, Jimenez is once again showing his elite potential. He won AL Player of the Week last week.

Jimenez’s overall numbers now have the look of a solid, promising, albeit still flawed rookie season. After Sunday, Jimenez is hitting .269/.318/.514. The power is there, but the batting average and walk rate are both lower than most expectations for him long-term. However, to put up an above average overall season at the plate as a rookie while dealing with two stints on the injured list is definitely a strong base to build from.

Expectations will be higher for Jimenez in 2020. Many will expect him to take a step towards becoming a middle of the order hitter for years to come. For now, it’s safe to look at Jimenez’s 30th home run as proof of a solid rookie campaign.

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