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.”

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.