White Sox

White Sox fall to Orioles in Miguel Gonzalez's return to Baltimore

White Sox fall to Orioles in Miguel Gonzalez's return to Baltimore

BALTIMORE — A potentially great homecoming for Miguel Gonzalez on Friday night was bamboozled by a rookie who had been promoted only a day earlier.

Fighting off an abundance of emotions, Gonzalez looked good against the team that released him only 13 months ago. But the Baltimore Orioles got a huge boost from Gabriel Ynoa, who pitched six scoreless innings in relief. Behind Ynoa the Orioles held off the White Sox 4-2 in front of 20,302 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Gonzalez was saddled with the loss despite allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings as Ynoa shut down the White Sox after entering in the middle of the first inning.

“Everything was going on in my head,” Gonzalez said. “This is where I started my career in the big leagues. The Orioles gave me my first opportunity. But now I’m with the White Sox, happy to be here and we’re doing a good job.”

The best effort of the night belonged to Ynoa, who was promoted on Thursday. He entered the game with two outs in the top of the first inning when the White Sox literally knocked Orioles starter Wade Miley out of the contest.

Jose Abreu hit the first of two direct shots back at Miley when he lined a ball 103 mph off the pitcher’s wrist for a single, one of three hits for Abreu. After several warmup tosses and a demonstration that he was fine, Miley was allowed to remain in the game. But he only last two more pitches before Avisail Garcia lined one 102 mph off Miley’s backside, which led to the veteran pitcher’s exit. Miley officially exited with a left wrist contusion.

Ynoa — who on April 7 allowed seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings to the White Sox Triple-A Charlotte squad — didn’t flinch as he made his warmup tosses, entered the game and retired Matt Davidson to end the first inning with two aboard. Ynoa retired 16 of the first 20 he faced and pitched well into the seventh inning.

Ynoa allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five while throwing strikes on 69 of 101 pitches. His biggest escape of the night came in the fifth inning with Baltimore ahead 2-0 when he got Abreu to chase a 2-2 slider for a strikeout with the tying run aboard. The White Sox also stranded a pair in the first and eighth innings, leaving 10 men on base overall.

“Yeah it throws a wrench into things, but nothing we aren’t used to,” Davidson said. “That was kind of a crazy first inning. Kind of slowed things down.

“(Ynoa) threw pretty good, made pitches when he needed to and we really didn’t put anything together. But nothing out of the ordinary.”

Friday was anything but ordinary for Gonzalez, who pitched in Baltimore for the first time since he was released last March. Gonzalez spent the first four seasons of his career with the Orioles and went 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA in 101 games. He last pitched at Camden Yards on Sept. 30, 2015 and brought a 17-14 mark with a 3.94 ERA in 46 games (43 starts) in Baltimore into the contest.

Two hours before the game, Gonzalez was locked in as he sat on the bench in the White Sox dugout during batting practice. The right-hander also received a nice ovation from his former home crowd when he was announced before the bottom of the first inning.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu playing at a high level for White Sox after slow start]

Perhaps a case of nerves as well as an extra out courtesy of his defense’s inability to make a play led to a shaky first inning for Gonzalez. Shortstop Tim Anderson dove in front of Tyler Saladino, which resulted in a leadoff single for Seth Smith. Gonzalez then walked Chris Davis, allowed a single to Mark Trumbo and hit Jonathan Schoop with the bases loaded to force in a run.

But a fielder’s choice got Gonzalez out of the jam and he found a rhythm, retiring 11 of 12. Davis hit a solo homer off Gonzalez in the third to make it 2-0 but that was it. The right-hander retired the last six he faced and allowed six hits and two runs with a walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

“Coming back at Camden Yards, the fans were happy to see me,” Gonzalez said. “Emotion. A little too much amped up. Settled down after that.”

The White Sox defense never quite settled in. Cody Asche couldn’t handle a Davis grounder that went for a one-out single in the eighth inning off Dan Jennings. After Joey Rickard doubled in a run to make it 3-1, an error by Anderson — his seventh — led to another run. The defensive misplays gave the Orioles enough room to hold off Gonzalez and the White Sox.

“(Gonzalez) did a great job,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We gave him a few too many outs, actually. In the first, on the ground ball in the shift, kind of overplayed it a little bit. Other than that, he had to work through inning, giving up one run, working through all that traffic — really nice job. It was a couple of runs allowed, but not because he didn’t have a really good idea of what he wanted to do. I thought he was very effective. Again, you can’t give a club like that too many outs.”

2020 MLB odds: Why the White Sox aren't a value pick to win World Series

2020 MLB odds: Why the White Sox aren't a value pick to win World Series

Are the White Sox a trendy pick to win the World Series for those placing future bets?

In searching for value plays in a futures bet, the White Sox have gone from 60-1 to win the World Series prior to Thanksgiving, all the way down to 25-1 as we approach Opening Day in late July.

“At 25-1 on the White Sox to win the World Series, I don’t like your value, per se, but I do like the White Sox, say for example, when it comes to say, winning the division,” Sports betting analyst Sam Panayotovich told NBC Sports Chicago.

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The White Sox were already an intriguing team before the pandemic chopped the season from a 162-game marathon to a 60-game sprint, but as they return to the field they have become a team several pundits are keying.  

Panayotovich bought into the intrigue, even prior to the offseason additions of a team that has spent three plus years in a rebuild

Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning will all play a role, seemingly out of the gate, giving a rotation insurance in what will be a two month long roller coaster ride.  

The offseason additions of Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnacion, paired with the expected debuts of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal have turned the White Sox into a sexy pick when it comes to sports betting MLB futures.  

But the rise in appeal among the betting publicly has left Panayotovich pondering the meaning of value when it comes to laying a wager on the White Sox. The 100-win Twins from a year ago are the odds on favorite in 2020, but the White Sox aren’t lurking far behind at 3-1, and become the value play when it comes to 2020 Futures plays on the White Sox.  


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Lucas Giolito not sure MLB can complete 2020 season amid COVID-19 challenges

Lucas Giolito not sure MLB can complete 2020 season amid COVID-19 challenges

If you’re expecting to challenge the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title, no reason to mess around. Why not face them on Opening Day?

“Sounds like fun to me,” Lucas Giolito said on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

But while Giolito will likely be starting for the White Sox that night — July 24 on NBC Sports Chicago — ask him how, or should we say if, this season actually finishes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you get a much different answer, one layered with doubt about possible problems that could lie ahead for the entire league.

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“I’m not 100-percent confident that we’re going to get through a season this year, but I have to prepare for it mentally, physically and be ready to go. We all have to,” Giolito said. “I’m trying to follow the rules, protocols, do everything that I can, communicate to others to do it as well. I think if we can do that and guys are being pretty safe away from the field, then there’s a pretty good chance we can at least get it started.”

Not exactly a quote the league wants to put on a billboard, but it’s baseball’s unfortunate reality.

The players know what they’re up against: a battle against a virus that doesn’t care who’s pitching or hitting, who’s home or away.

“For me, I’m all for whatever keeps us safe. We’re not going to be safe, (so) I guess as safe as possible. So far, I’ve seen no issues with my tests or any of my teammates,” Giolito said. “I just think it’s important that we do everything we can, which by looking around the clubhouse these last few days in our 'Summer Camp,' I feel like everyone on the team is taking it seriously. We’re doing a pretty solid job adhering to all the rules.”

Last week, White Sox players held a Zoom call to discuss not just the rules, but how every single person is responsible for their actions. One bad decision by one player could put the whole team and season in jeopardy.

“When we are away from the field, are we socially distancing? Are we wearing our masks when we go to the grocery store? Or going out to bars or restaurants and hanging out with a bunch of random people? That’s going to be the biggest challenge, I think, for everyone involved with this. Coming together and saying, 'This is the normal right now. This is what we’ve got to do if we want to make this work,'” Giolito explained. “I think it’s going to be important that team leaders, both coaches and players, continue to reiterate that.”

So far, two White Sox players have tested positive for COVID-19. Both positive tests came during the team's intake period, before workouts began at Guaranteed Rate Field last Friday.

Giolito said he’s been tested two to three times.

“If we could (be tested) every day, I would do it every day.”

RELATED: White Sox trust MLB protocol as positive COVID-19 tests, player concerns grow

Watching the workout on Monday, other than the sight of coaches wearing masks, everything looked normal with the White Sox. Eloy Jiménez was laughing and smiling. Luis Robert was roaming center field like a gazelle. Edwin Encarnación was crushing balls deep into the seats.

Despite the pandemic, the goal for 2020 remains the same.

It’s time to start winning.  

In this case, Giolito says that means beating their opponents, as well as the virus.

“It’s unfortunately a risk that I’m taking and many of my teammates are taking," he said. "At the same time, we’re interested in winning, and we’re not going to win if we’re not playing.”


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