White Sox

White Sox bats support Jose Quintana in skid-snapping win over Tigers

White Sox bats support Jose Quintana in skid-snapping win over Tigers

DETROIT -- The White Sox have provided few runs to support Jose Quintana the last four seasons. But lately, a lack of home runs for Jose Abreu has been the team’s bigger issue.

One led to the other on Thursday afternoon as Abreu snapped a 32-game homerless streak and the White Sox provided Quintana with a season-high for runs in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front in front of 33,023 at Comerica Park. Abreu’s two-run shot during an early five-run rally was his first in 137 plate appearances.

Avisail Garcia also homered in support of Quintana, who pitched 7 1/3 strong innings to lead the White Sox to their first road win of the season in 12 games against the Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals.

“I think that’s actually better than Q getting some runs, they’re both right up there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It has been a long time and somewhere in there it has been dragging on (Abreu). His swings today were great, he’s been hitting a lot of balls right on the nose, which is a good sign for him.”

Abreu’s homer bookended a second-inning rally against Jordan Zimmerman that provided Quintana with a commanding lead. Already ahead 4-1 and on the heels of a 10-pitch walk in his first plate appearance, Abreu ripped a 90-mph fastball to left for a two-run homer and a five-run lead.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

When he returned to the dugout, Melky Cabrera, who earlier singled in a run, forced Abreu into giving him an impromptu piggyback ride in the dugout. The homer was the first for Abreu since June 23 at Boston.

“We were just happy and we were celebrating that moment,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It was a long time.

“It was always in my mind. It was a tough time for me because I never experienced something like that in my career. I (have had) bad stretches when I didn’t hit homers, but not like this. …

“I feel relieved.”

Unfamiliar with such a lead, Quintana pitched well. It allowed him the chance to relax “a little,” but not too much against a powerful Tigers lineup. He attacked the strike zone and was extremely efficient after a rough first inning, which ended with a fantastic relay from Cabrera to Tyler Saladino to Omar Narvaez to throw out Nick Castellanos at home. Quintana, who threw strikes on 69 of 93 pitches, retired 15 of 17 starting in the second inning.

He ran into some difficulty in the seventh inning when he allowed three straight singles for Detroit to get within 6-2. But Quintana retired the next three batters, including Kinsler, to prevent further damage.

He allowed three earned runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out three as he improved to 9-8.

“Sometimes when you get a lot of runs, you can relax a little,” Quintana said. “(Abreu’s homer) was really good for us and really good for him. It’s exciting. Everybody had a lot of energy today, especially when it was hot. It was good. Everybody did a great job today.”

The White Sox offense didn’t waste any time against Zimmerman, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings. They scored a run in the first inning on Justin Morneau’s bases-loaded sac fly to capitalize on Zimmerman’s wild streak. He hit Tim Anderson to start the game and later walked Abreu. Anderson scored on Morneau’s sac fly to left and exited the game with a bruised left hand. X-rays were negative and the White Sox rookie shortstop is listed as day to day.

An inning later, Garcia put the White Sox back in front 2-1 with a 430-foot solo home run to center. Zimmerman never recovered as he allowed a Narvaez single and walked Saladino. Cabrera’s one-out single pushed across a run to make it 3-1 and Adam Eaton followed with a sacrifice fly.

“They jumped on (Zimmerman) pretty good and that inning just kept going,” Ventura said. “You didn’t really know where it was going, but a lot of good at-bats in that lead up to the homer that topped it off. A lot of good at-bats along the way.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

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USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.