White Sox

White Sox fall to Angels, who complete series sweep

White Sox fall to Angels, who complete series sweep

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doesn’t seem to matter what the White Sox do at Angel Stadium. They just can’t beat the Los Angeles Angels.

Despite taking an early four-run lead, the White Sox went on to lose for the 14th time in 15 games at the place the locals call “The Big A.” Miguel Gonzalez walked four batters in the second inning, the first of three four-run rallies by Los Angeles. The White Sox dropped a 12-8 decision to the Angels, who completed a three-game sweep in front of 33,234. The loss is the 17th in 21 games in Anaheim for the White Sox dating back to 2012 and it dropped them to 17-21 overall this season.

“It’s definitely tough to swallow,” said Gonzalez, who allowed five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. “It’s not easy. Guys came out today and hit the ball well. We had 15 hits. Those type of games, those are the games you want to win. Things didn’t go our way. Our bullpen has been throwing the ball really well. Today didn’t go their way. Just flush this game and get ready for the next one.”

Everything appeared to be headed in the White Sox direction in the early innings.

Jose Abreu crushed a low, outside split-fingered fastball from Matt Shoemaker in the first inning for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead. Abreu’s seventh homer traveled an estimated 424 feet and splashed down in the Thunder Mountain Railroad rocks in center field.

The White Sox added on in the second inning, too.

Matt Davidson singled and scored on an RBI single by Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia scored on an errant double play throw to make it 4-0.

But then it all fell apart rather quickly.

After he walked one in a scoreless first inning, Gonzalez walked four in the four-run second inning. Andrelton Simmons drew the first and scored when Ben Revere tripled him in. Danny Espinosa received a free pass and Martin Maldonado’s sac bunt made it a 4-2 game. Cameron Maybin, who went 3-for-4 with a walk after a five-hit effort on Tuesday, walked as did Mike Trout to load the bases. Albert Pujols tied it with a two-run single.

Gonzalez then appeared to find a rhythm as he retired the side in order on seven pitches in the fourth. He recorded the first two outs in the sixth inning before allowing a double to Espinosa and gave way to Anthony Swarzak, who had a 0.00 ERA. Maldonado singled in the go-ahead run and Maybin singled to set up Trout, who blasted a three-run homer for an 8-4 lead.

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Gonzalez allowed five earned runs and six hits with five walks in 5 2/3 innings, his second straight rough outing. Swarzak departed with three runs and three hits allowed.

“It kind of fell apart there,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We’ve been riding these guys pretty hard, all of our relievers. One of the very few instances where our guys had a little tough time.

“This game evolved into one of those games that happens very rarely. We haven’t had that many to be honest. I don’t think it’s something to hold on to and let linger. We have to move on to the next series.”

It got a little worse before it got better.

A Tim Anderson error sparked a seventh-inning rally that included RBI singles by C.J. Cron, Espinosa and Maldonado. Maybin grounded into a double play to push across another run to make it 12-4.

The White Sox refused to go quietly as they scored three runs in the eighth inning. Avisail Garcia, Anderson and Kevan Smith all singled in a run. Garcia also doubled in a run in the ninth inning to get the White Sox within four runs.

“We’re trying our best to get out of this bad streak,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It doesn’t matter that our best right now hasn’t been enough for us. We have to keep working hard every day and do our best every day.

“We’re trying to fight every at-bat, every pitch, every play. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go.”

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.

What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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