White Sox

White Sox jump on rare Moustakas error in win over Royals


White Sox jump on rare Moustakas error in win over Royals

It’s the kind of play the White Sox probably expected Mike Moustakas to make, given how many hits the slick-fielding Kansas City third baseman has taken away in the past.

But Moustakas couldn’t cleanly glove Jose Abreu’s chopper in the bottom of the sixth inning, and all of a sudden, a previously-listless offense had a rally going.

The White Sox went on to score five times in the bottom of the sixth to blow past Kansas City for a 5-3 win Sunday afternoon in front of 23,317 at U.S. Cellular Field. Had Moustakas cleanly fielded the ball — center fielder Adam Eaton, who was on third at the time, cautioned that it wasn’t an easy play — he probably would’ve turned an inning-ending double play to keep the Royals ahead by a 3-0 score.

“When there’s a mistake being made or maybe a close play that’s not made, you have to pounce on that,” Eaton said. “If you’re going to be a good team you have to do that.”

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That’s exactly what the White Sox did, as after Eaton scored on the error Adam LaRoche flipped Edinson Volquez’s two-strike curveball into center for an RBI single. Avisail Garcia loaded the bases with a line drive single to center and, following Alexei Ramirez's strikeout, Conor Gillaspie lined a low fastball into right for a go-ahead two-run single. Flowers tacked on the fifth run with an RBI single to right.

For an inning that opened with an outstanding defensive play — Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon leapt over the short wall down the left field line to catch Micah Johnson’s foul ball, inadvertently body-slamming an unsuspecting fan in the process — the White Sox did well to come back and secure a series victory over the defending American League champs.

“Their whole defense doesn't give many opportunities,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think you even saw what Gordon was doing in left field, he made some great plays on us. You have to take advantage of it when you get a chance like that. It was a great little run right there for our offense in coming back.

“Volquez was throwing great. He was tough and you know the shadows are coming eventually so it was nice to push those across. Big at-bats by Conor there and (Flowers) to get an extra one. It was a nice job by the offense to just really keep it going.”

The sixth-inning rally made sure John Danks’ second consecutive quality start wasn’t wasted, as the left-hander fired six innings of three-run ball with eight strikeouts. Jake Petricka, Zach Duke and David Robertson combined to throw three scoreless innings to nail down the victory, with Robertson notching a save about three and a half hours after he earned the win in the continuation of Friday’s suspended game.

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Winning both games on Sunday was a nice mental jolt for the White Sox after they’d been beat up — literally and figuratively — by Kansas City in their first four meetings of the season. Eaton admitted that if the Royals came into Chicago and swept this series there probably would’ve been a mental block the next time they played them, even if that’s not until mid-July.

“Against a team that's already played you tough, you have to be able to withstand it and keep going and stick together,” Ventura said. “These guys are definitely doing it.”

This week’s upcoming seven-game road trip to Baltimore and Minnesota should provide a better indication of whether the White Sox have righted the ship after that 0-4 start, though the club has won three of its last five series (including a two-game split in Cleveland).

But whether it was Gillaspie ripping that go-ahead single or Melky Cabrera making a fantastic leaping catch to take away an RBI in the eighth, the White Sox can see themselves establishing the kind of identity they expected to have at the beginning of the season.

“Over the last five or six games we’ve played a really good brand of baseball,” Duke said. “Early on you are kind of trying to feel each other out and see how you are going to figure out to win games. I feel like we are starting to do that and playing our style.”

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked


White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.