White Sox

White Sox fall to Royals 3-2 in 14 innings

White Sox fall to Royals 3-2 in 14 innings

KANSAS CITY -- David Robertson and the White Sox bullpen failed to put the Kansas City Royals away again on Wednesday night.

Robertson blew a lead in his third straight appearance at Kauffman Stadium and the White Sox eventually fell to the Royals 3-2 in 14 innings in front of 25,188. Lorenzo Cain’s two-out RBI single off Matt Albers sent the White Sox to their sixth loss in nine games. The White Sox, who stranded 12 base runners, have lost four of five meetings in Kansas City this season despite leading into the seventh inning in each game.

“It’s frustrating,” Robertson said. “Guys did a great job of coming back there in the (11th inning), and then I came in and just screwed it all up. I really needed to get it done right there.  I didn’t make enough good pitches. I left balls over the plate. You walk the leadoff guy he’s going to score.

“I’m frustrated with myself, more frustrated that I let the team down. We all needed this one. I have to be better.”

Cain’s two-out single to center off Albers drove in Christian Colon, who started the 14th inning with a single and moved up on a sac bunt. It arrived three innings after Robertson blew his sixth save in 33 tries and fourth in his last eight. Robertson -- who received a four-year, $46-million contract before the 2015 season -- also blew a save here in Tuesday night’s victory and surrendered a six-run, ninth-inning lead to the Royals back in May.

He opened the 11th inning with a six-pitch walk of Eric Hosmer, who advanced into scoring position on Jarrod Dyson’s sac bunt. Salvador Perez then tied it with a one-out double to right center.

Robertson, who had a 3.22 ERA through July 17, has allowed nine earned runs and 11 hits in 11 innings since. Those appearances have all come after Robertson was sidelined for 12 days with a left leg strain.

“Leadoff walks are always going to hurt, especially in a one-run game as a closer,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s the first thing you look at and guys getting good swings at him first pitch. You have to be better, has to be sharper. We’re not telling him something he doesn’t feel.

“Arm wise and velocity wise he’s where he was, just not quite as sharp. The swings lefties are getting on him, maybe the cutter isn’t as big as it’s been and burying it inside.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

Nate Jones also blew a lead in the eighth inning, which cost Jose Quintana win No. 10 despite 7 1/3 dominant innings. Cheslor Cuthbert’s RBI double on the first pitch he saw from Jones scored Paulo Orlando, who chased Quintana with a one-out double.

Quintana wound up with the 58th no decision of his career despite a fantastic outing.

He had the Royals out of sync all evening as he attacked the strike zone and allowed four hits, walked one and struck out five.

Quintana leads the majors in no decisions since 2012 with eight more than Cole Hamels and nine more than James Shields and Wei-Yin Chen.

The White Sox offense did Quintana no favors, either.

Aside from Shuck’s third-inning solo homer, they got nothing against Ian Kennedy. But it wasn’t because the White Sox didn’t have chances.

The White Sox stranded a pair of runners in the sixth, seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th innings, failing to add on to their one-run lead in the first three.

Tim Anderson briefly put the White Sox back ahead in the top of the 11th with a two-out, opposite-field RBI single just over Eric Hosmer’s glove to make it a 2-1 game. But Royals relievers retired the last 10 White Sox hitters they faced.

The White Sox finished 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“Both teams had a lot of opportunities,” Ventura said. “You feel for Q. Every guy came in after one inning and seemed spent. It was hot out there.

“It’s a tough one when you go 14 and know you had a chance to put it away a couple different times and couldn’t do it.”

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.