White Sox

White Sox lose in 10 innings, swept by Tribe

White Sox lose in 10 innings, swept by Tribe

CLEVELAND — The spiral has lasted 36 games and the White Sox still haven’t discovered an escape route.

Sunday’s chapter involved another disheartening loss as the White Sox fell 3-2 in 10 innings to the Cleveland Indians in front of 25,269 at Progressive Field. Two days after they were felled by a walkoff homer, Jose Ramirez completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox with a two-out RBI single off David Robertson. The White Sox — who finished with five hits — have lost 26 of 36 contests and dropped to a season-worst three games below .500. The White Sox trail the Indians by 5 1/ 2 games.

“It’s like we can't get any good luck to go our way,” Robertson said. “I wish there was a magic answer. We’re scuffling. There’s no doubt about it. We’re not a bad team. We’re just not playing well right now. We’re just not having things go our way, and it’s a tough stretch.”

Robertson said he didn’t do himself any favors as he allowed a leadoff double to Rajai Davis in the 10th. Davis advanced to third on a Jason Kipnis sac bunt and that’s when the White Sox got creative. Not only did they intentionally walk Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli, the White Sox brought in a fifth infielder for a play.

Robertson retired Friday’s hero Carlos Santana on a foul out to third and the White Sox returned to a normal defensive alignment. But Ramirez singled past Jose Abreu, who misplayed an in-between hop, for yet another deflating loss for the White Sox.

“The bounce was farther than what I expected and my only alternative was to try to dive back (lunge back) to see if I could catch the ball,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It was a very tough play.”

It was yet another instance this weekend where the White Sox found themselves in a trying position because of their continued offensive woes. Jose Quintana was in line for a loss Friday even though he only made one mistake because the team’s struggles. The onus shifted to Carlos Rodon on Sunday as the White Sox couldn’t break through for more than a run against Carlos Carrasco.

The White Sox jumped ahead of the Indians early as Tim Anderson and Abreu doubled with one in the first inning to put them ahead 1-0. But Carrasco retired Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier, who continues to slump.

The White Sox pulled back ahead 2-1 in the fourth inning on a solo homer by Cabrera. But Carrasco otherwise kept them in check. After he induced a double play earlier in the fifth, Carrasco worked around a two-out error by Kipnis when Abreu grounded out with two on. He also stifled earlier opportunities with double play balls in the second and sixth.

Bryan Shaw got Carrasco out of trouble after a one-out double by Adam Eaton in the eighth as Abreu popped out and Cabrera grounded out.

The White Sox only had multiple base runners in three of 10 innings.

“They’re tough,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They have some great pitching. You have to take advantage of your opportunities. You’re going to end up having them cost you.

“If you don’t cash them in, you’re going to pay for it.”

Rodon turned in yet another strong performance as he struck out a season-high eight batters.

The left-hander peppered the zone with strikes and worked ahead in the count, walking only one batter in a 99-pitch effort.

He twice surrendered the lead, but Rodon didn’t break even though he faced several tight situations. The left-hander stranded two runners in the first inning with a strikeout of Jose Ramirez and dodged a hairier situation in the third.

Davis doubled to start the inning and stole third. But Rodon struck out Kipnis, got a grounder to short by Lindor and then struck out Santana to strand runners on the corners.

Juan Uribe tied it in the fourth with a solo homer. But Rodon retired nine of the last 11 batters he faced. He has a 3.25 ERA over his last six starts with 34 strikeouts in 36 innings.

“We have to keep grinding and find a way to (score) more runs,” Abreu said. “I don’t know why or what’s the reason, but we weren’t able to score too many runs in this series. That’s baseball and it’s tough, but we have to find a way to score more runs, because we are wasting some very good games.”

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

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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?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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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.