White Sox

White Sox draw positives from trio of comebacks in loss

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White Sox draw positives from trio of comebacks in loss

The comeback is an almost mandatory attribute of a high-quality team.

And though the White Sox didn’t win Saturday, their three comebacks — and the accompanying signs of resiliency — pleased the South Siders following an admittedly tough 7-6, extra-inning loss to the visiting Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.

“You would rather have the win, but I’m really glad how this team competed against them,” catcher Geovany Soto said after the game. “We battled all day long. We come from behind and we keep battling, and it didn’t go our way. But it feels good to share the feel with all these guys in here. They want to play ball and they are competitors.”

Jose Quintana wasn’t at his sharpest Saturday, surrendering three first-inning runs to put his team in an early hole. But Comeback No. 1 followed in the next five frames as the White Sox chipped away against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, scoring on a Melky Cabrera RBI single in the third, an Adam Eaton RBI single in the fourth and an Alexei Ramirez sacrifice fly in the fifth.

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Quintana — whose 5 1/3-inning outing Saturday was his shortest since May 7 — surrendered his fourth and final run in the sixth when Alex Rios and Paulo Orlando hit back-to-back doubles. But then came Comeback No. 2, when in the seventh Ramirez poked his third home run of the season just out over the right-field fence to tie the game at 4.

Resiliency already well established, the White Sox were required to show more after Jake Petricka loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Zach Duke came in, and a sacrifice fly and bases-loaded walk followed, putting the Royals ahead by two. Those two runs, both charged to Petricka, snapped the White Sox bullpen’s 21-inning scoreless streak.

With the dominant Kansas City bullpen in to end things, the White Sox improbably staged Comeback No. 3 off closer Greg Holland. With two outs, Adam LaRoche singled and Ramirez walked ahead of J.B. Shuck’s double to left-center field that scored the two runners and tied the game.

There would be no more comebacks in extra innings as a taxed Dan Jennings, in his fourth inning, gave up the game-winning home run to Lorenzo Cain and the White Sox couldn’t muster anything in the bottom of the 13th.

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But while the game went the wrong way for the White Sox in the end, it was the way it went three times prior that had them looking on the bright side during their postgame comments.

“For these guys we haven't scored a ton, but they battled the whole time there,” Ventura said. “Shucky with a big one at the end. Holland has always been tough on us and to be able to come through and tie it up, we just couldn’t push that extra one across that you needed. We had four (extra) innings to do it and couldn't get anything going.”

Shuck has proven himself mighty clutch so far this season. He has three game-winning hits already, and while Saturday’s double wasn’t one of them, it still was came at a crucial moment with the White Sox down to their last out.

Part of coming back, though, also means that you’re trailing, something that’s not a positive for a team fighting to get out of the American League Central’s cellar. Quintana coughed up another batch of first-inning runs, a continuation of an upsetting trend that has been of extreme detriment to the White Sox. It’s the team’s worst pitching inning by far, with the staff boasting a 6.88 ERA in the first inning following Saturday’s game. South Side pitching has allowed 68 earned runs — 71 runs total — in 89 first innings this season. The next highest number for a single inning is 45 runs allowed in the third inning.

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The early hole has plagued the White Sox, and though they came back multiple times Saturday, Quintana wasn’t too happy to have put his teammates in that position in the first place.

“I think the first inning was slow,” Quintana said. “First inning marked my game. I gave up three runs, and it's hard.”

“It’s part of the game too,” Soto said. “But we need to keep that at a minimum. This team has been playing great baseball the last 15 days. I feel that it’s going to turn around. We’ve been battling, playing some good teams. We’ve been seeing that we are battling and we are having extra inning games and competing right there with them. It’s a matter of getting it together and getting a ‘W.’”

But a season where positives not named Chris Sale have been hard to come by, Ventura & Co. will talk proudly about this one: three comebacks against the American League’s best team. Win or lose, heartbreaking or not, that’s an admirable feat on its own.

“I feel that we take it, try to look at the positive. Tomorrow we have another game,” Soto said. “So, right now, what I’m seeing is we are competing and we are grinding and battling and coming back from being behind, and that’s kind of the way I see it.

“You can see the fight in this team, and you will continue to see it.”

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.