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.”

 

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.