White Sox

White Sox drop fifth game in six tries, fall to Astros extras

White Sox drop fifth game in six tries, fall to Astros extras

The White Sox dropped another winnable game on Tuesday night.

General manager Rick Hahn spoke of his disappointment before Tuesday’s contest because he thought the White Sox should have had a more productive road trip. A 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Houston Astros in front of 13,481 at U.S. Cellular Field probably didn’t make Hahn feel much better.

Though the first-place White Sox continued to fight despite playing without cleanup man Todd Frazier, they missed out on several key scoring opportunities and stranded nine runners in all. Evan Gattis made them pay with a two-out, two-run homer off Matt Albers in the 11th that sent the White Sox to their fifth loss in six games.

“From a big picture standpoint, we feel good,” Hahn said. “From a day-to-day standpoint, frankly we should have done a little better on the last road trip and I think everybody feels that way in there right now. We were in all six games, but wound up winning only two of them.”

The White Sox bullpen has been at the center of those struggles after an incredible run to start the season. The unit has a 5.03 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in May after posting a 1.69 ERA in April.

With the go-ahead run at second, Gattis fell behind Albers in the count 0-2. But Albers left a 92-mph sinker up and Gattis crushed it.

Zach Putnam also allowed a run in the eighth inning.

“That one pitch, you’d like to get it back,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “(Albers has) been pitching great for us and these last couple haven’t been what he’s been doing previously. But you still see it there, there was some zip on it and Gattis got the one he needed.”

The White Sox scored twice off the Astros’ bullpen.

Adam Eaton’s two-out RBI double off Tony Sipp in the 11th got the White Sox within a run. But Sipp struck out Alex Avila to strand the tying run.

Tyler Saladino also had a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning as Houston closer Luke Gregerson blew the save. But Gregerson extended the contest to extras as Jose Abreu grounded out and stranded a pair of runners. Abreu, whose fourth-inning solo homer off Dallas Keuchel got the White Sox on the board, stranded seven runners overall.

The White Sox seemed to have Keuchel on the ropes in the seventh inning as he walked the first two batters he faced on eight consecutive balls.

Even so, the White Sox immediately called for a sacrifice bunt from Saladino, who fouled off the first pitch and then laid one down just in front of home plate, which led to a force out at third base. Working with men on first and second, Keuchel couldn’t work out of the jam as he then walked Eaton on four pitches to load the bases.

But Ken Giles took over and struck out Jimmy Rollins and Abreu consecutively to strand the bases loaded.

“I don’t think you sit there and count on (Keuchel) going to continue to just throw balls, but once we got guys in scoring position, you feel like you have a chance,” Ventura said. “We got ourselves in a good situation and then they bring in a guy (Giles), that he just blew a couple of guys away.”

In an attempt to challenge more hitters, White Sox starter Carlos Rodon worked at a higher fastball velocity all evening and had some success. He hit 98 mph on the radar gun and struck out seven batters and only walked one.

But Astros first baseman Tyler White met two of Rodon’s challenges, homering to nearly the same spot in left field on both. White’s homers came on 3-2 and 3-1 counts, respectively.

Rodon allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings.

The Frazier-less White Sox had few early chances against Keuchel, who retired 11 straight until Abreu’s homer.

The White Sox pulled ahead in the bottom of the fifth on four consecutive two-out hits. Dioner Navarro and Saladino doubled, which made it a 2-2 game. Eaton then singled in a run to put the White Sox ahead and Rollins singled. But Keuchel struck out Abreu to strand the pair.

“We left a lot of guys on base today, a lot of opportunities,” Ventura said. “Any time you lose like that you feel like that.”

The White Sox are 7-7 in May. They lead the division by 3 1/2 games, but have to feel like it could be larger. Avila said the solution to the team’s woes is simple.

“Win,” Avila said. “It’s pretty easy. Just get a good outing from your pitcher, make some clean plays in the field and get a timely hit when you need it. We battled today. Best way to do it is win.”

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.