White Sox

White Sox lose eighth straight despite Chris Sale's 14 strikeouts

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White Sox lose eighth straight despite Chris Sale's 14 strikeouts

Chris Sale flirted with a perfect game in another historic performance on Friday night.

But the White Sox didn’t back him and even though Sale retired the first 17 batters and struck out 14, the Texas Rangers rallied in the ninth for a 2-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 22,864.

Sale not only joined Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in major league history to strike out at least a dozen batters in five straight starts, he had the White Sox in line to snap a seven-game losing streak until David Robertson allowed a bases-loaded, two-run pinch-hit single to Mitch Moreland. The eight-game losing streak is the team’s longest since Aug. 28-Sept 7, 2013.

“Sale did exactly what you want an ace to do in a situation like this,” Robertson said. “I went out there and stunk it up and gave it up tonight. It was a poor performance on me. I should have been there to pick the team up. We needed this one really bad. This one hurt.”

[SHOP: Buy a Chris Sale jersey]

Robertson got the call with the White Sox holding a 1-0 lead because the White Sox want to keep Sale healthy.

Not only had Sale already thrown 111 pitches on Friday, he made 125 in his previous start in Tampa Bay on Sunday. With that in mind, White Sox manager Robin Ventura called upon Robertson, who got into trouble when he walked Shin-Soo Choo walked and Elvis Andrus singled with one out. Both advanced on a wild pitch before Robertson struck out Joey Gallo. The White Sox intentionally walked Prince Fielder and pinch hitter Mitch Moreland ripped a 1-0 fastball to right for a single.

“If this was probably later on and you were in the playoffs, you might send (Sale) back out there,” Ventura said. “But he’s got a long way to go in this season and you’re trying to take care of him, too.

“He’s the crown jewel of our pitching staff and you have to take care of that. Other guys have a job to do.”

Sale did his with aplomb against the sleep-deprived Rangers, who arrived in Chicago at 5 a.m. from Los Angeles. He struck out two batters in four of the first six innings.

Jose Abreu nearly gave away Sale’s shot at perfection in the fourth when he bobbled an Andrus grounder only to recover with a blind, back-handed flip that Sale caught with his bare hand for the out. Sale struck out Joey Gallo to end the inning and motored on until Hanser Alberto broke up Sale’s bid for a perfecto with a soft liner into center for a single. But Sale quickly rebounded with a five-pitch whiff of Shin-Soo Choo, his 10th strikeout. Not only did that extend Sale’s franchise record for double-digit strikeout performances to 25, it makes Sale the first pitcher since Johnson in 2002 to accomplish the feat in six straight starts.

[GIF: Watch Abreu's no look toss to Sale for the out at first]

Sale struck out Gallo again in the seventh inning and returned to strikeout the side in the eighth inning, too. His strikeout of Ryan Rua to start the eighth put him on par with Johnson and Martinez.

Over his last six games, Sale has 71 strikeouts versus seven walks in 45 1/3 innings. He’s allowed seven runs (six earned) and 22 hits.

In the dozen-over-five starts-stretch in which he has matched Martinez and Johnson, Sale has 65 strikeouts and six walks in 38 1/3 innings. Martinez was the last pitcher to have at least 12 strikeouts in five straight starts from Sept. 4-27, 1999 for the Boston Red Sox. Johnson’s run went from June 19-July 11, 1998 while he pitched for the Seattle Mariners.

As good as he was, Sale didn’t flinch at Ventura’s decision, not with Robertson in the bullpen. Robertson has converted 13 of 17 opportunities this season.

[MORE: Ventura: Mistakes always affect the rest of the game]

“You can almost guarantee that’s not gonna happen too many times with him on the mound,” Sale said. “He’s one of the best in the game.

“Given the circumstances and everything, there’s a reason. It’s an easier decision when you got a guy like that coming in, too.”

The White Sox offense continues to make life difficult for the rest of the team. Even though they finished with nine hits, the White Sox were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10. The White Sox stranded two in the first and the ninth, had a runner thrown out at home in the fourth and left ‘em loaded in the seventh.

Tyler Flowers, who reached base all three times, provided the only run with a fifth-inning solo homer.

“We had some opportunities, there were some chances to score some runs, we didn’t do it and that’s -- you start looking at the things that are going on, we need to be able to score some more runs for him,” Ventura said.

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.