White Sox

White Sox fall to Pirates as losing streak hits seven

white-sox-0618.png

White Sox fall to Pirates as losing streak hits seven

The effort continues to be there, but the results remain woefully short for the White Sox.

The Pittsburgh Pirates blooped, bled and broken-batted the White Sox into submission in front of 21, 296 on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Gregory Polanco’s RBI groundout in the eighth inning was just enough to send the White Sox to their seventh straight loss as they fell, 3-2, to Pittsburgh.

After losing four straight Interleague meetings with the Pirates, the White Sox — who were outhit by Pittsburgh 46-13 and finished with four or fewer hits in four straight games for the first time in franchise history — dropped to a season-worst nine games below .500 despite rallying twice against All-Star-to-be Gerrit Cole.

“Sometimes the ball has different ideas of what it wants to do,” White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. “It was just one of those days. We had to work for everything we got.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Robin Ventura upset by White Sox defensive miscue]

During their go-ahead rally in the eighth, the Pirates stayed with the same formula they used all night, heeding the advice of Wee Willie Keeler, who famously said: “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”

Tied at 2, Jung Ho Kang reached on a one-out infield single — Pittsburgh’s fourth of the game — against Jake Petricka. Pedro Alvarez then got enough of a 2-2 curveball from Zach Duke to pitch it into center and put runners on the corners. Polanco hit a grounder to the right side and Gordon Beckham couldn’t field it cleanly, making an unlikely double play impossible and giving the Pirates the lead for good.

“They caught some breaks,” White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said.

Pittsburgh utilized the same practice for seven innings against Samardzija, dinking him to the tune of 10 singles.

But Samardzija didn’t cave, limiting his opponents to two runs. Kang singled off Samardzija’s glove in the fourth to drive in a run and make it 1-0. An inning later, Pittsburgh loaded the bases as Samardzija couldn’t track down Jordy Mercer’s single off his glove, Corey Hart hit a jam shot to right and the pitcher hit Chris Stewart. Josh Harrison’s sac fly made it a 2-1 game.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Samardzija struck out seven and allowed two runs, throwing strikes on 78 of 114 pitches.

“He had his spots there where they didn’t hit stuff hard necessarily,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He pitched well enough to win.”

With the aid of a wicked two-seam fastball, scoring off Cole (11-2) seemed like an impossible feat.

But the White Sox did anyway as Melky Cabrera had a sac fly in the fourth inning to tie it at 1 — Jose Abreu had doubled and advanced on a fly out. Three innings later, Geovany Soto crushed a solo homer to left center to tie it at 2.

The White Sox also missed out on two great chances against Cole, who limited them to three hits and two runs in seven innings. Eaton singled and moved up on a wild pitch with no outs in the first inning but never advanced from there.

Eaton then walked to start the sixth inning, stole second and moved to third on J.B. Shuck’s bunt. But Abreu grounded out with the infield in, and Cabrera flew out to left center after Adam LaRoche walked with two outs.

“We’ve had some opportunities to win some games, and we just haven’t been able to mount anything offensively,” Ventura said. “When we have that opportunity, when we have that inning when it looks like it’s your way, we don’t do anything with it — that’s the frustrating part.”

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

0722_eloy_jimenez.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

1019_matt_davidson.jpg
USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.