White Sox

White Sox feeling empty after squandering another lead in loss to Indians

White Sox feeling empty after squandering another lead in loss to Indians

CLEVELAND -- The White Sox found themselves in an ideal spot early on Thursday night.

They led by three runs and knocked the opposing starting pitcher out after only one inning.

But same as they have most of the season, the White Sox didn’t take advantage of their prime position.

The offense failed to pull away from the Cleveland Indians and it resulted in yet another tough loss as the White Sox dropped a 5-4 decision in front of 12,982 at Progressive Field.

Tyler Naquin’s pinch-hit sac fly off Jacob Turner in the ninth inning helped the Indians to their ninth win over the White Sox in 12 tries. The White Sox are 20-24 this season in one-run games, including four losses on their 4-5 road trip.

“We didn’t add on,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “As hitters, we have to just keep going. We have to get them out of slam range. Get up by more than four runs, that would have been nice. Their bullpen did their job kind of and we added a couple on there, but it wasn’t enough there at the end.

“Just an emptiness leaving at all these parks. It’s tough.”

The most difficult part has been constantly asking a now-short-handed bullpen to pitch in closely-contested ballgames.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

The White Sox have done it all season.

Their 44 one-run games tied them with the Seattle Mariners for the most in the majors and the White Sox have played another 25 games decided by two or fewer runs.

But early on it looked as if the White Sox might pull away on the heels of Wednesday’s 10-run performance. Indians starter Danny Salazar walked three of the first four batters he faced and Justin Morneau hit a bases-clearing double to put the White Sox ahead 3-0.

Salazar exited after 34 pitches and gave way to the bullpen, which is usually a good thing.

Apparently not.

Kyle Crockett pitched a scoreless inning and Steve Clevinger followed with four strong frames, allowing a run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four and afforded the Indians time to rally against Carlos Rodon and the White Sox bullpen.

Rodon threw strikes, attacked hitters and made the big pitch when necessary on Thursday.

He allowed eight hits in six innings, walked none and struck out five. He benefitted from four double plays, with one in each of the first five innings save for the third.

Rodon took a two-run lead into the sixth inning, but quickly found trouble when Jason Kipnis hit a one-out, ground-rule double to put two in scoring position. Rodon surrendered a run on an RBI single by Francisco Lindor, but got another big play from his defense to escape the inning with a one-run lead.

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“Nobody is an easy out,” said Rodon, who has a 3.33 ERA in 24 1/3 innings since he came off the disabled list. “You get 0-2 on them and they seem pretty comfortable laying off the slider and work back in the count. They made it tough.

“Some big pitches made and defense definitely picked me up in the first and a few other times.”

“Definitely an empty feeling. All of us playing hard. We are leaving it all out there and it just doesn’t happen.”

The Indians scored a run in each of the last five innings.

Chris Beck and Turner, both of whom have been thrust into key roles because of an inexperienced group, allowed one apiece in the seventh and ninth innings. Nate Jones, who was summoned to finish the seventh, didn’t escape the eighth before he allowed Jose Ramirez’s two-out, game-tying single.

“They gave us an opportunity early by walking guys and Justin with the big hit,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But after that their bullpen comes in and just kind of shuts us down.

“You’ve got to be able to do more with that once you get the starter out as early as we did.

“The way it started off today, you figured at least offensively gonna have something go your way.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.