White Sox

White Sox blast their way to win No. 20, drop Twins

White Sox blast their way to win No. 20, drop Twins

The White Sox plan to give away a Melk Man t-shirt to fans on May 19.

But they very easily could have distributed it on Friday night as Melky Cabrera delivered against the Minnesota Twins. Cabrera finished with four hits, including a pair of critical ones with two outs, and made a fantastic running catch as the White Sox beat the Twins 10-4 in front of 23,054 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cabrera doubled in two runs in the first inning and singled in another during a critical fifth-inning rally that secured a 5-0 start for Mat Latos, who lasted five frames and allowed four runs. The White Sox became the first American League team with 20 victories courtesy of seven two-out RBIs, including three by Cabrera.

“This is definitely a win for the offense,” Latos said. “It’s not something you want to do, give up four runs. But it’s definitely good to have the offense that we have to come pick us up whenever we do give up that many runs.”

Unlike Thursday night, when they couldn’t take advantage of myriad opportunities, the White Sox offense cashed in on Friday. A team that entered the game 20th in the majors with a .237 average with runners in scoring position went 8-for-14, including five hits with two outs.

Cabrera was the first to strike against Ricky Nolasco when he followed a two-out error by Eduardo Escobar in the first inning with a two-run double to left-center field to make it a 2-0 game.

Four innings later, Cabrera boosted his offense again with another critical two-out hit in a 5-4 contest. It appeared as if the White Sox, who stranded 11 runners in Thursday’s loss, might come up empty again after Adam Eaton tripled and Austin Jackson singled on the infield with no outs.

With the infield drawn in, both Jose Abreu, who had a solo homer in the third inning, and Todd Frazier hit grounders directly at a Twins infielder, allowing no runs to score. But Cabrera worked the count and singled to left on a 3-1 pitch from Nolasco to drive in Jackson for a two-run lead. Brett Lawrie followed with another RBI single to make it 7-4.

“That was a big one,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You had an opportunity there and he came through. He's been swinging it great for us.

“Melky, there have been some big hits from him, knocking in some runs. And Brett's been doing the same thing. It was a big one later on, he hit one down the line that kind of started moving the needle for us and getting us a good lead.”

The White Sox scored three more runs in the seventh inning, all with two outs.

Dioner Navarro had a bases-loaded infield single and Tyler Saladino drove in two with a single to center.

The support proved to be critical for Latos, who allowed four earned runs in five innings for a second straight start. Latos retired the first five batters he faced, but got into trouble with two outs in the second inning as Kurt Suzuki singled in a run to make it a 2-1 game.

Two innings later, Latos left one up outside and Oswaldo Arcia blasted a two-run homer to left to reduce the White Sox lead to 5-3. Eduardo Nunez doubled to start the fifth inning and advanced on two consecutive deep fly balls — one on which Cabrera made an outstanding running catch in the left-field corner — to get the Twins within a run. Jackson and Eaton also contributed a pair of web gems to the cause of Latos, who allowed seven hits and walked two in five innings. The right-hander threw strikes on 55 of 95 pitches.

But he earned his fifth win in six starts as the White Sox continued to lavish him with run support. Latos started the game 35th among 151 starting pitchers with a per game, run-support average of 5.4 runs.

“It isn’t what I wanted, to go five innings,” Latos said. “Some day, sometime, I’ll find the seventh inning. It’s a team win. The guys really had my back.”

Eaton singled in two runs in the second inning to give the White Sox a 4-1 lead.

Abreu — who was later angered when Trevor May hit him with a pitch in the eighth inning, resulting in benches cleared and a Ventura ejection — homered off Nolasco in the third to make a four-run lead.

“That's what we expect,” Saladino said. “You're not always going to score a bunch of runs, but when you put up runs like that, it's not a surprise. It just shows that we put some good at-bats together and timely hitting, and like I said, it's what we expect of ourselves.”

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.