White Sox

White Sox end homestand with whimper in loss to Twins

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White Sox end homestand with whimper in loss to Twins

The White Sox have played some of their best baseball of the season in front of their home crowd.

But U.S. Cellular Field hasn't been too kind to the South Siders lately.

The White Sox wrapped up a disappointing seven-game homestand on Sunday with a 8-1 loss to the Twins, resulting in their fifth loss in seven games over that stretch.

Early inning troubles plagued the White Sox again when starter Jose Quintana gave up a leadoff home run to second baseman Brian Dozier.

The left-hander then settled down, retiring the next nine hitters before a disastrous fourth inning ensued.

First baseman Joe Mauer smacked a line drive right at Adam Eaton, but the center fielder seemed to take his eye off the ball in hopes of trying to double off Shane Robinson from second. Eaton let the ball get by him, allowing Robinson to score on the error, bringing the Twins' lead to 2-0.

“Big inning there I created,” Eaton said. “Tough ball. Goes up and it’s kind of knuckling. Play needs to be made.

“I would be lying to you if my eyes weren’t wandering a little bit. I’ve made that play 100 times. Whatever happened to that ball, it didn’t find my mitt.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Later that inning, outfielder Torii Hunter drove in a run on an infield single and allowed another run to score. Three batters later, outfielder Eddie Rosario delivered a two-run single to extend the Twins' lead to 5-0.

“He had good stuff,” Ventura said of Quintana. “But you start getting up in the zone fastball wise, these guys can hit a fastball. They’re on it.”

Jose Abreu finally got the White Sox offense going with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. It was the slugger's seventh of the season and first since May 9.

“For him, there’s more there,” Ventura said of Abreu. “We know that. This is just a rough stretch for him but he homered today and you hope that’s good things to come.”

Dozier continued his dominance over the White Sox on Sunday by smacking a three-run home run off reliever Scott Carroll in the seventh.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson was brilliant for the second time this year against the White Sox. The right-hander tossed eight innings of one-run ball, including eight strikeouts. He's only given up one run over 16 innings against the South Siders in 2015.

“Even when they got up, Gibson was pumping strikes,” Ventura said. “If he was going to give us something, a walk or a hit batter you’d take it but he jumped ahead early.”

[RELATED: White Sox hoping to find answers on extended road trip]

Adam LaRoche, who went 0-for-3 in the loss, believes the team is capable of much more and it’s hard to watch the performances they’ve had on the field.

“Extremely frustrating,” LaRoche said. “We are not just getting beat: we are beating ourselves and making good pitchers look great. It’s embarrassing.”

The White Sox failed to provide Quintana with much run support again. In his last five starts, the offense has only provided seven runs for the left-hander. 

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia returned to the lineup after a two-game absence due to right knee inflammation and went 1-for-2. Ventura removed him from the game for precautionary reasons in the seventh.

Two rough series at home against the Indians and Twins have the White Sox doing an emotional 180 from when they arrived back home just six days ago. As they load up for Toronto with a matchup against the Blue Jays on Monday and an 11-game road trip staring them in the face, Ventura hopes the team packs a scrappy attitude to turn their luck around.

“You’re able to gain some momentum from where we started and it ended not well,” Ventura said. “Now you got to find a way to go on the road and keep grinding. These guys just need to find a way to scratch across a couple runs and make it a clean game.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

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USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.