White Sox

White Sox complete sweep of A's with four-run victory

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White Sox complete sweep of A's with four-run victory

OAKLAND — The way their season has gone the White Sox had to feel as if they were due a few breaks.

They got several on Sunday afternoon to go along with a handful of nice plays made in the field. The White Sox scored four times in the fifth inning as they took advantage of a shoddy Oakland A’s defense and earned their fifth straight victory with a 7-3 win in front of 33,195.

Jeff Samardzija improved as he went along over eight innings and the White Sox completed their first three-game sweep in Oakland since 1997. Winners in nine of their last 12, the White Sox finished their road trip with a 5-1 record to reach the .500 mark (17-17). Avisail Garcia completed a breakout series against the A’s with three hits, including a two-run, opposite-field home run in the ninth.

[MORE: Healthy Avisail Garcia makes difference in White Sox lineup]

“We’ve got a good team, we’re starting to feel that a little bit,” said infielder Gordon Beckham, who drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to give the White Sox the lead for good. “The results are starting to get there so it’s not just us saying it that we have a good team. We’re starting to win some games. We’re starting to come together and I like where we’re headed.”

Though he did a nice job through four innings, Scott Kazmir couldn’t have captained the A’s from running into a Titanic-sized iceberg of bad defense in the fifth.

Trailing 2-1, Adam Eaton reached to start the fifth inning on the first of two Marcus Semien errors — Oakland committed four — and Emilio Bonifacio had a bunt single mishandled. Two batters later, Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single past the dive of third baseman Brett Lawrie. The White Sox then loaded the bases on a Garcia infield single that could have been the second out if perfectly played.

Beckham drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2 and Alexei Ramirez singled in two runs off Kazmir’s glove on what appeared to be an easy inning-ending double play.

[RELATED: Marcus Semien's advice for Micah Johnson: Work hard]

“You’re able to kind of put it in their heads you’re gonna be running hard all the time and putting pressure on,” manager Robin Ventura said. “That stuff happens. You have to be able to take advantage of it and we did today. We got some guys on base, keep moving them around and make it happen.”

The White Sox, who improved to 16-3 when scoring at least four runs, got their first run courtesy of a two-out error by catcher Stephen Vogt in the first inning. Garcia hit a comebacker and Kazmir went home for the first out but Vogt’s throw went over the head of first baseman Max Muncy to allow a run to score.

Garcia capped the scoring with a massive, two-run homer to right off Tyler Clippard in the ninth.

With the aid of a strong defense behind him, Samardzija (3-2) danced in and out of trouble early. He paid for a 0-2 fastball up and over the middle in the fourth as Muncy blasted it for a two-run homer. Billy Butler also had an RBI groundout in the fifth against Samardzija, who allowed three runs in a 120-pitch effort that helped save a few heavily used arms in the bullpen.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

But led by second baseman Carlos Sanchez, the White Sox played sterling defense behind Samardzija. Sanchez turned a pair of nifty double plays in the first and third innings. He followed the latter with a nice one-hop stop of a Butler liner to end the inning. Abreu also made two nice plays at first, including snagging a one-hopper off Butler’s bat in the fifth. Abreu smothered the grounder, which allowed a run to score, but managed to get the force at second even after he went face first into the ground to retrieve the ball.

“Unbelievable,” Samardzija said. “You start with (Geovany Soto) because you’re working with him so much. He did a great job. And obviously Sanchy at second made some amazing plays and saved that run there on that grounder up the middle in the (third) to give us a chance to get out of the inning without scoring. And with Eaton running through walls for you. What else can you ask for there?

“If we play like that every day, we’ll have success.”

 

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”