White Sox

White Sox bullpen holds on in victory over Indians

White Sox bullpen holds on in victory over Indians

CLEVELAND -- The unit as a whole hasn’t been as sharp of late, but the back of the White Sox bullpen continues to get it done.

David Robertson’s two scoreless innings highlighted four strong frames from the bullpen as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in front of 31,753 at Progressive Field on Saturday night. Starter David Holmberg earned his first ever win for the White Sox and Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu each had three hits for the team, which improved to 2-7 on the road trip. It was Robertson's first two-inning save with the White Sox and the second of his MLB career. 

“They came to me before the game and said be ready for (multiple innings),” said Robertson, who struck out four batters. “I said, ‘Ok, perfect.’ I came in after the first inning and they were like can you go again and I was like ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I went out there and finished the job.”

With the top of Cleveland’s lineup due in the eighth, manager Rick Renteria turned to Robertson. Renteria had wiggle room in that Tommy Kahnle could pitch if things took a turn for the worse. But Renteria wanted the White Sox to hold their two-run advantage and thought Robertson was the answer with four straight batters who would hit left-handed due up.

The right-hander took over and worked around a one-walk with strikeouts of Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana. Robertson also returned with a 1-2-3 ninth to convert his 10th save in 11 tries.

The closer’s two-inning effort followed a combined two innings of one-run ball from Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Chris Beck. Jennings yielded a sixth-inning solo shot to Santana that allowed the Indians to get within 4-3 but the White Sox held firm from there.

The bullpen, which has a combined 3.43 ERA, improved to 20-0 when leading after six innings.

“They were excellent,” Renteria said. “We wanted to put our best guy there to kind of see if we could truly stop it. He was good to go the second inning and did a nice job.

“They’re unique situations. They’re still high leverage for me. But you have to be careful. You can’t do it too often.

“You just put a lot of stress on those guys when you do it.”

The White Sox aggressive play on the bases added a little unnecessary stress. Despite finishing with 14 hits, the White Sox hurt several potential rallies as they ran into five aggressive outs.

Todd Frazier was easily thrown out stealing third base in the first inning. Cabrera, who also was forced out at home in the first, was thrown out after an aggressive send by third-base coach Nick Capra on Abreu’s double in the second. Avisail Garcia was throw out going from first to third in the third inning on Frazier’s single to deep shortstop. Abreu was cut down stretching a single into a double in the fifth inning. And Yolmer Sanchez was doubled off third base to end the eighth inning when Leury Garcia popped up a bunt attempt. Renteria was OK with some of those plays but not all.

“It was super aggressive, but not necessarily good,” Renteria said. “Maybe a little reckless.”

Even so, the White Sox did some damage against Josh Tomlin and a cadre of Cleveland relief pitchers.

Abreu had the third of three straight first-inning singles off Tomlin to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Matt Davidson added a two-out, two-run single in the first to put the White Sox up by three runs.

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They made it a 4-0 game in the second inning when Melky Cabrera, who had three hits, singled in a run. And the White Sox tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on Kevan Smith’s sacrifice fly.

The early offense gave Holmberg plenty of breathing room and he took advantage. The lefty didn’t allow a hit until the third inning and used his offspeed pitch to keep Cleveland off-balance. He surrendered a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning but didn’t yield any more. Drafted in the second round of the White Sox on June 9, 2009, Holmberg allowed two earned runs and three hits in five innings. He struck out four.

“It is kind of cool,” Holmberg said. “Just thinking about that, it’s been a long time since I got drafted by this organization. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to win the ballgame.”

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'


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


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.