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.”

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

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USA TODAY

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

Baseball fans might want to sit down for this shocking news: Gerrit Cole lost last night.

The Washington Nationals played in and won a World Series game for the first time in their history, but the more hard-to-believe news was Cole's performance, in which the potential AL Cy Young winner gave up five runs and took the "L."

That result made the Nationals the first team to hand Cole a loss since May 22, when he lost to the White Sox in Houston. The two squads are the only teams Cole has lost to since the calendar switched from April to May. It was just the third time since that loss to the White Sox in which the Astros lost a game Cole started.

That goes to show you just how insanely good Cole has been this season. Between losses, he owned a 1.59 ERA in 25 games, including his first three starts of this postseason. All in all during the regular season, he led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and led baseball with 326 strikeouts.

But the Nationals flipped that script in Game 1, tagging Cole for five runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers off the bats of Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman. It was a performance reminiscent of that May night, when the White Sox scored six runs off Cole, getting home runs against the ace from Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu.

Of course, this statistical happenstance won't be the only thing tying Cole to the White Sox this fall. The South Siders have starting pitching at the top of their offseason to-do list, and Cole will be the biggest name on the free-agent market. What's expected to be the richest pitching contract in baseball history and a supposed preference to play on the West Coast might lessen the chances that Rick Hahn's front office will reel Cole in, but they're just one offseason removed from chasing the two biggest names on the free-agent market, when they pursued Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last winter.

Cole in a White Sox uniform come Opening Day? Maybe if Cole subscribes to the old logical of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

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Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

The business of free agency and trades doesn’t begin until after the World Series, but you White Sox fans are a lot like me. You can’t wait till then. So, without MLB’s permission, I have plugged in baseball’s Hot Stove a little early (don’t tell anyone). And while I cannot personally bring you Madison Bumgarner, Trey Mancini, Francisco Lindor and Charlie Blackmon, I talk about them (and a lot more) in this edition of the Sox Drawer.

What position do you feel is at the top of the list for a major offseason signing? — @BJBumgarner

Thanks for the question, B.J. And sorry if I’m blowing your cover here, but any chance you’re related to the aforementioned Madison Bumgarner? If so, I know a baseball team on the South Side that can definitely use him. Feel free to pass that long at the next family gathering.

Seriously though, it’s tough to say if starting pitching is at the very top of the White Sox offseason wish list, but it’s right up there with right field and designated hitter. I’ll call it a three-way tie. And since I brought up MadBum, he really would be an interesting fit for the White Sox: a left-handed veteran who’s won a World Series (or three) and a World Series MVP. He’d be like the Jon Lester signing on the North Side ahead of the 2015 season, a plant-the-flag deal that would signal to the rest of the league that the White Sox mean business in 2020 and beyond.

He’s not the same dominant pitcher he was from 2013 to 2016, but he started 34 games in 2019, finishing with a 3.90 ERA with 203 strikeouts in 207.2 innings. However, at 30 years old, does he want to cash in his chips and pitch in the American League where he has to face a DH instead of a pitcher every five days? Bumgarner also loves to hit. He’s won two Silver Slugger awards. Maybe he can be a starting pitcher/DH for the White Sox? OK, maybe not.   

Who’s the most realistic free agent the White Sox will sign? I’m thinking someone like Zack Wheeler or Jake Odorizzi. Thoughts? — @arkennedy47

In terms of starting pitching, I agree that the Wheeler/Odorizzi tier seems more realistic for the White Sox. In the past, they’ve tried to stay away from signing pitchers to deals beyond three years. The biggest and most recent exception was when they signed John Danks to a five-year, $65 million extension in 2011 — and he proceeded to go 25-48 with a 4.92 ERA in those five seasons that were supposed to be right in the middle of his prime. Pitchers. They can be a dicey bunch.

What kind of deals will Wheeler and Odorizzi get? Tough to say, but they might be more in line with what the White Sox are willing to stomach in terms of years for a starting pitcher. If you want my full list of realistic free agents for the White Sox this offseason, I shared them on our most recent White Sox Talk Podcast. We all made a wide range of predictions. Take a listen.

After last season, I refuse to dream of or even ponder a wish list for the White Sox. Heart still being put back together. — @AdamTeacher

Adam, I hear you. The failed attempt to sign Manny Machado last winter still lingers as we head into this offseason. Some of you have moved on. Others have not. Under the circumstances, the breakthrough seasons of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson in 2019 hopefully helped lessen the blow:

Moncada: .315/.367/.548, 4.6 WAR

Anderson: .335/.357/.508, 4.0 WAR

Machado: .256/.334/.462, 3.1 WAR

Hello, Our Chuck. First let me say I wasn’t too disappointed the Sox didn’t acquire Manny, because here’s a name I would REALLY love to sign when he’s available in 2021, Francisco Lindor. How can we make this happen? He’d kill it with this new brand of youth on the Soxside. — @panchrio

With two years left on his contract, Lindor’s free agency when he turns 28 is likely going to be Machado and Bryce Harper all over again. The switch-hitting, all-world shortstop would certainly look great in a White Sox uniform, and I appreciate your forward thinking, but we’ve still got two more seasons before we get there. But since you asked the question, I’ll give you an honest answer. If Tim Anderson continues to trend upward offensively and improves defensively, I don’t think it would be wise financially to spend $300 million on Lindor. Better to use that money elsewhere.

But if the White Sox end the 2021 season and Anderson is not the player they envisioned he’d become and they have a glaring need at shortstop, then sure, the White Sox should go down the Lindor path, and White Sox fans can buckle their seatbelts for another rollercoaster offseason. Until then, I expect the Indians to trade Lindor (possibly as soon as this winter) so they can get something for him since they will likely lose him to free agency and end up with nothing in return.

Is it possible the Sox could trade for the Orioles Trey Mancini? Is he even available? What would it take to get him? — @JayDBaseball

On paper, give me Trey Mancini right now, all day, everyday. He’s 27, he plays right field and isn’t a free agent until 2023. He’s not the best defensively, but everyone loves the swing and his numbers from 2019, which was a big breakout season for him: .291/.364/.535 with 35 home runs.

The Orioles are dreadful. They’ve just started their rebuild and are coming off a 108-loss season. Think of the White Sox when they started their own rebuild in 2016. If the Orioles are going to trade a cost-controlled player like Mancini, they’re going to be asking for a big haul in return. We’re probably talking two of the White Sox top prospects.

A more realistic player the Orioles could be open to trading is Jonathan Villar, a 28-year-old switch-hitting, second baseman/shortstop who played all 162 games last season and stole 40 bases. He only has one more year left on his contract. With Nick Madrigal seemingly close to the majors, maybe this isn’t a perfect fit. But if the White Sox decide to give Madrigal more seasoning in the minors, Villar could be a possibility.

What is a likely timetable for Abreu to get a deal? When could we expect that? — @JesmarGuzman

Since the free-agency window doesn’t officially begin until six days after the World Series (there’s a five-day quiet period where teams can exclusively negotiate with their own free agents but can't sign them), the earliest Abreu can reach a deal with the White Sox is some time in early November, depending on how long the World Series lasts. I know Abreu told reporters during the season that if it was up to him, “I would sign myself,” but when it comes down to doing actual business, negotiating usually doesn’t start with, “I’ll sign myself to whatever number you put on the table.” That said, both sides have expressed a strong desire to continue together, and I expect that to happen with Abreu and the White Sox.

Still, after winning the 2005 World Series and publicly handing the baseball from the final out to Jerry Reinsdorf during the victory parade, Paul Konerko didn’t re-sign with the White Sox until Nov. 30. He considered offers from the Orioles and Angels before agreeing to come back to the South Side.

Maybe they come to an agreement during the exclusive negotiating window and it’s a quick, done deal. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t be concerned. It’s just business.

Corey Dickerson ... yay or nay? I think he’s a great fit. — @JustinGranzin

Dickerson might be a great fit as a left-handed hitter and clubhouse guy, but he’s only played four games in right field in his career. I’d want to look into that before paying him around $10 million a year.

I know there’s a lot of noise to sign a left-handed power bat in right field, but shouldn’t one be prioritizing defense for the right-field spot? IMO, I think defense and on-base needs to improve more than power. I don’t think MLB is going to allow as many homers next season. — @bmarsh442003

All good points here. Defense, on-base percentage and power. It would be great to have all three of these traits in one player if you can find it. “Hello Boston Red Sox, can we have Mookie Betts, please?”

The White Sox do need more balance in the middle of their lineup, and they will get that from a left-handed power hitter. Maybe that guy becomes your DH and you acquire a right fielder who can play defense and draw walks? A different baseball could drastically reduce the amount of home runs next season, but unless you know for certain it will happen, it’s tough to plan a whole season around it. But I get where you’re coming from.

What will it take to get Blackmon from the Rockies? Heard they may be shedding payroll. I think he could play either corner spot. — @Wrighthood24

I like everything there is about Charlie Blackmon except this: his home and road splits. Playing in the high elevation of Coors Field, he’s a perennial All Star. Away from Denver, it’s been a different story. Check out his numbers in 2019:

Home: .379/.435/.739

Road: .256/.299/.432

Unless the White Sox move their home games to Denver, I’d probably stay away from a Blackmon trade.

Pitching and defense win (games) and basic baseball fundamentals. Too many mental errors last year. — @JohnFab91929303

Yes to all that.

What is your prediction for 2020 win total? Over/under 81? Sox finally back to a winning season? — @shoopcapone

Get back to me in spring training.

And finally ... 

When will the people get what they want? A Chuck Garfien bobblehead. — @DCeaseTheDay

If that’s what people want, we’ve got serious problems.

Thanks everyone for your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

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