White Sox

White Sox lose fourth straight, drop series opener to Twins

White Sox lose fourth straight, drop series opener to Twins

Tuesday night’s contest is one of those painful times general manager Rick Hahn promised would come.

A rebuild often includes some ugly moments that drive fans mad. Normally, they come in bunches, too.

What can make it even more frustrating is when a familiar face comes back to do some damage. Hector Santiago played that role yet again on Tuesday as he shut down his old teammates, who were looking to bounce back from their worst series of the season after a surprising start.

Santiago and the Minnesota Twins were too much as the White Sox dropped their fourth straight with a 7-2 loss in front of 14,498 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mike Pelfrey took the loss for the White Sox, who dropped to 15-16.

“We’ve got to put everything together,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We’ve got the energy, but it seems like right now we’re not clicking on all cylinders.”

Pelfrey looked good early against the Twins, the team he pitched for from 2013-15. Making his fourth start of the season for the White Sox, Pelfrey retired the first eight batters he faced and nine of the first 10.

The White Sox took advantage and spotted Pelfrey a 2-0 lead with a pair of RBI singles in the bottom of the third inning. But the lead was gone in an instant as Minnesota rallied for three quick runs in the fourth.

Jorge Polanco led off with a single, stole second and scored on a Max Kepler RBI single. Kennys Vargas then turned around a 92-mph sinker from Pelfrey and deposited it into the right-field bleachers, the two-run shot exiting his bat at 115 mph to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.

“It’s never good to give up three, but especially after we score two,” Pelfrey said. “I’m pretty disappointed in myself for that. That kills the team. That’s not good.”

“I don’t think we ever gave up in Baltimore and kept fighting and had some close games. That’s a good team, a really good team.

“Tonight, I’ll take the blame for that. These guys gave me a lead and I gave it right back. That can be demoralizing and that’s my fault.”

A replacement for the injured James Shields, Pelfrey’s output began to rapidly slow down. While he recorded two more outs, the right-hander exited with two runners aboard after he walked Kepler in the fifth inning.

Dan Jennings retired Vargas to end the threat.

But it was the third time in four starts that Pelfrey hasn’t completed five innings.

The outing left too much work for a banged up bullpen, which is missing Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka. Jennings, who appeared for the 15th time in 31 games, allowed three earned runs and three hits in 2/3 of an inning as the Twins began to pull away. Minnesota had six hits in seven at-bats to start the top of the sixth against Jennings and Chris Beck, scoring four times to make it 7-2.

That was more than the White Sox offense could match.

For the sixth time in nine games, the White Sox scored fewer than three runs. An offense that appears to be woefully short on on-base percentage has scored three or fewer runs in 17 of its 31 games.

The White Sox appeared to have found the elixir to solve Santiago’s dominance against them. Omar Narvaez walked with one out in the third inning and singles by Willy Garcia and Tyler Saladino made it a 1-0 game. Jose Abreu then continued his hot streak with an RBI single to right to make it 2-0.

But Santiago, who entered 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA against his former team, settled down. He worked around three hits and five walks to limit the White Sox to two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Were that not enough, the White Sox threw in a pair of outfield errors for good measure on consecutive plays. Avisail Garcia overran the two-run single of Ehire Adrianza in the sixth inning, which allowed the batter to reach second base. Adrianza then scored on Byron Buxton’s RBI single that made it 6-2. Willy Garcia made an error on that one, which allowed Buxton to move into scoring position. He then scored easily on Joe Mauer’s RBI single.

“We couldn’t minimize their damage as they continued to tack on runs and we weren’t able to respond,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s that simple.

“When you’re trying to establish a way of playing the game of baseball, of which they’ve kind of taken hold of it -- we’ll move forward and we can’t get too high or too low. You’re right, this is four in a row. As far as this one, it’s done.”

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency travel order Thursday that requires travelers visiting Chicago from states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases to quarantine for two weeks.

By the end of the month, a certain group of travelers — Major League Baseball teams — are scheduled to visit Chicago to play games against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Likewise, the White Sox will be traveling to play road games in other states, as well, from which they will eventually return.

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But the White Sox say they aren't expecting the new order to impact their upcoming 2020 season.

"Based on our current understanding, we do not expect this to impact our operations as presently planned," a White Sox spokesperson told NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday.

Currently, no states that are home to Central Division teams from either the AL or NL are impacted by Mayor Lightfoot's order. But as has become extremely apparent, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can change things quickly, and there's no knowing which states might be impacted come Opening Day or at any point during the two-month baseball season.

At the moment, the mayor's order, which goes into effect Monday, applies to visitors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Landing on that list involves a specific metric. Per the city's website, "a state will be designated if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average."

Major League Baseball is imposing a geographic schedule to minimize travel for teams during the shortened, 60-game season. Teams will only play their division rivals and teams from the same geographic division in the other league. The White Sox will play their four AL Central rivals and the five teams from the NL Central.

As of the mayor's order being issued Thursday, the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were not part of the travel order. But every one of those states except Missouri, as well as Illinois, is currently experiencing a week-to-week increase in the number of new cases. The number of new cases is also rising in Iowa, where the White Sox are still on schedule to play in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13.

The city has the ability to grant exemptions, though, and Major League Baseball's extensive health and safety measures could come into play. According to the city's website, "the Commissioner of Health may additionally grant an exemption based upon an organization’s or business’ testing and other control policies or in extraordinary circumstances, which warrant an exception from mandatory quarantine."

So the city has the power to let the MLB season, as it pertains to teams traveling in and out of Chicago, to operate as planned. It can allow the Cleveland Indians come to town, or allow the White Sox to return from a trip to Detroit, even if other travelers from Ohio or Michigan, for example, are mandated to quarantine for two weeks.

As mentioned, the evolving status of the pandemic and the response to it, not just in Chicago but across the country, can change everything in a hurry. Major League Baseball faces its own internal hurdles when it comes to safely getting the season off the ground and completing it.

But as the White Sox understand it, there might not be reason to believe Mayor Lightfoot would be throwing a separate wrench into the difficult task of playing the 2020 baseball season.


Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

One of the most popular questions surrounding the White Sox, as they head into a season unlike any other, has lingered throughout the three-month layoff.

What kind of rookie year will Luis Robert have?

Things have obviously changed since March, when spring training came to an abrupt halt and everyone on the South Side had to wait indefinitely to see Robert play his first major league game. The wait is over, but Robert's first taste of the bigs will come in a shortened, 60-game season. The hype is still there, sure — and for good reason — but as past hyped White Sox prospects like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez have shown, it can take time to adjust to major league pitching and start playing up to expectations.

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Moncada went through a full season's worth of struggles in 2018, striking out 217 times before having a huge 2019 campaign and emerging as the team's best all-around player.

So when he shares confidence that Robert's going to do just fine in his rookie season, it might not be a bad idea to listen.

"He’s a young guy with a lot of talent. Everybody saw that during the spring," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "I think for him, the key is to just play his game, don’t feel pressure, and with the support of all of us, he’s going to be good. I’m very confident he’s going to have a very, very good season just because of the talent he has."

The talent is obvious. Robert garnered preseason expectations as a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors because he's a true five-tool threat who spent last season wowing minor league crowds with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field.

The hype is real.

“He can do it on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said back in February. “He’ll hit a 400-plus-foot home run one day, and then he’ll make a Superman catch in the outfield. It seems like he can do it all. Stealing bases every day. He’s definitely the complete package.”

But how will the unpredictable circumstances of 2020 affect Robert? How they will affect anyone remains a mystery until teams start workouts this week and start playing games a few weeks later. One thing we can calculate at the moment is time, and Robert won't have much of it to make any necessary adjustments.

We saw it take far more than 60 games for Jimenez to get used to the way big league pitchers were attacking him last season. He figured it out eventually, started launching balls over the center-field fence and had a torrid final month to his rookie campaign. Robert won't have the same luxuries in 2020.

RELATED: Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

But he will have resources, the same ones he was expected to be able to lean on before the pandemic wiped so much of the season off the calendar. Moncada has benefited so much from Jose Abreu's mentorship, and there's no doubt that Abreu and Moncada both will offer any advice they have to their countryman Robert.

"I passed through that process, and Abreu was there helping me through the process and that was very helpful," Moncada said Wednesday. "And I think for (Robert), it’s going to be the same. We’re going to be there for whatever he needs, for whatever questions that he has. That’s going to be very helpful for him. We’re always going to be there for him."

They'll just have to be there from six feet away.