White Sox

White Sox lose as Royals hit three homers off Carlos Rodon

White Sox lose as Royals hit three homers off Carlos Rodon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He has already bounced back from serious adversity once this season. Now Carlos Rodon will look to rebound from a pair of rough starts late in the year.

The White Sox starter yielded three home runs in four-plus innings on Monday afternoon as the Kansas City Royals handed an 8-3 loss to the White Sox in front of 31,502 at Kauffman Stadium. Rodon, who recently won five straight decisions, lost for a second straight start after he allowed six earned runs in a 96-pitch effort. The White Sox, who won Friday’s contest in dramatic fashion, lost their third straight to the Royals and 14th in 19 meetings this season.

Jose Abreu and Carlos Sanchez both homered in the losing effort.

“I’m going to be fresh in these last two starts, just try to finish strong and move on,” Rodon said. “These things happen. I just have to keep on having fun. Sometimes I forget this is a kid’s game and you just have to enjoy it. Sometimes the pressure gets to you, and you take it as a job. It’s not a job, although it is. Kids play this game all over the world. We all started as kids, and we just have to remember this is a kid’s game and have fun with it.”

There were no indications Rodon was in for a difficult day when he retired the side in order in the first inning on only 11 pitches.

He found trouble in the second inning and faced a stressful situation in each frame the rest of the way. He fell behind 2-1 in the second inning when he yielded solo homers to Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar on fastballs and had to work around a two-out double to Christian Colon. Rodon managed to strand a runner in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings.

But the stress seemed to catch up to Rodon in the fifth inning, and things got ugly in a hurry. Rodon’s throwing error on Billy Burns’ infield single put him in scoring position. Whit Merrifield then singled to put runners on the corners and stole second base. Eric Hosmer broke a 2-all tie with an RBI single, and Kendrys Morales knocked Rodon from the game with a three-run homer, a 436-foot shot to left center.

Rodon allowed eight hits in four-plus innings and has seen his ERA increase from 3.80 to 4.29 in his last two starts.

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It’s not the first time Rodon has found himself in a difficult spot this season. He was outwardly frustrated as he headed into the All-Star break injured and with a 2-7 record despite having pitched well enough to win in 10 of his first 16 starts.

But Rodon vowed to treat the second half as if he was starting from zero and expected to rebound. Until his last start, Rodon has done just that. From Aug. 6 to Sept. 9, Rodon went 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings, which brought his record within a game of .500.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks that Rodon’s turnaround can be extremely valuable from a mental standpoint.

“You’re looking at a kid who went through a rough patch, and he’s been able to see his way out of it, see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Ventura said. “You can get buried in this game and not be able to mentally get your way out of it to where you have the confidence to go out there and commit to a pitch and locate it and be able to get people out. He has been able to do that. He’s turned a new leaf to where the belief is there. He’s showing it in his actions. Just the stuff he’s doing during games. I think that’s the important part for him taking it this far is you’re seeing it.”

The White Sox offense put up a decent fight early on but couldn’t keep pace with the Royals.

They pulled ahead 1-0 in the second inning when Todd Frazier singled in Justin Morneau, who doubled in his first at-bat in six games.

Two innings later, Abreu crushed a 3-1 fastball from Yordano Ventura for a game-tying homer to center that went over the third wall just below the massive scoreboard. But Ventura shut the White Sox down from there. Aside from the 431-foot solo homer by Sanchez in the seventh, the White Sox managed little else against Ventura, who went the distance.

“That (earlier) stretch was good,” Rodon said. “These past two games weren’t my finest. I wish I would have been better for this team, and that’s on me.”

G-Elite-O: Lucas Giolito turns in his best outing of the year by silencing Twins

G-Elite-O: Lucas Giolito turns in his best outing of the year by silencing Twins

"Lucas G-Elite-O."

That shirt was visible while Lucas Giolito's younger brother, Casey, was being ... I guess you would call it "interviewed" by Bill Walton last week in Anaheim.

The T-shirt is right. The White Sox most definitely have an elite arm on their hands.

The elder Giolito brother, the All-Star pitcher and ace of the South Side starting staff, has bounced back from his post All-Star break bump in the road and returned to the dominant form that made him a Cy Young candidate in the first half.

Wednesday he turned in what was probably his finest performance of the season to date, silencing a Minnesota Twins team that lit him up for seven runs less than a month ago. This time through the menacing Twins lineup, Giolito tossed nine shutout innings, allowed just three hits, walked no one and struck out 12 batters. It was his third straight start with double-digit strikeouts, and he's got 36 of them in those three outings.

He was downright filthy Wednesday, keeping quiet a lineup that leads baseball in home runs and torched White Sox pitching for 14 runs just hours earlier on Tuesday night.

Wednesday's performance went hand in hand with his other shutout of the season, when he kept the Houston Astros from crossing home plate back in May. That night he was also excellent, but with fewer hits and walks allowed and more strikeouts against the Twins, I'll give the title of best outing of the year to Wednesday's.

Perhaps more impressive than anything, though, has been Giolito adding to the theme of this resurgent season, bouncing back when trouble has struck. It's the general transformation that's taken him from the highest ERA among qualified starters in 2018 to an All Star this season. Both Giolito and catcher James McCann have noticed one of the biggest differences being that early damage in games doesn't rattle him like it did last season. And now we have Giolito erasing a less-than-ideal stretch to return to dominant form.

Giolito's ERA was down to 2.22 after six innings of one-run ball against the New York Yankees on June 14. In the seven starts that followed, his ERA exploded to 3.52 thanks to a 6.38 ERA in those seven outings. He gave up 26 runs and 39 hits in those 36.2 innings. He's responded phenomenally, with a 2.12 ERA in his last six starts, a stretch that's featured 53 strikeouts and just nine walks in 34 innings. His season ERA stands at 3.20.

For any who might be skeptical that this is the pitcher Giolito will be for years to come, that's a pretty good sign.

In general, there seems to be a good deal of skepticism surrounding how the White Sox rotation will fare in 2020, and much of it is plenty warranted. Michael Kopech will be coming off Tommy John surgery with just four major league starts under his belt. Reynaldo Lopez has been mostly excellent since the All-Star break but had a miserable first half. Dylan Cease has struggled from a results standpoint in his brief big league tenure, with a 5.93 ERA in eight starts. And until the White Sox start making moves this winter, we don't even know who will occupy that fifth spot.

But Giolito is doing his best to show that he can be relied on to be a force at the top of that rotation. Performances against two of the best teams in baseball, the Astros and Twins, have been the biggest exclamation points on that statement to date.

It wouldn't be surprising, though, to hear that "reliable" isn't enough for him. It's not "G-Reliable-O," after all.

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In interview, Jose Abreu says Jerry Reinsdorf told him he'll never play for another team

In interview, Jose Abreu says Jerry Reinsdorf told him he'll never play for another team

The evidence that Jose Abreu will be back with the White Sox after his contract ends at the end of this season has been ample throughout 2019.

Here's some more.

In an interview with the Sun-Times' Daryl Van Schouwen, the slugging first baseman said that White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has told him that he will play for the White Sox for the remainder of his major league career.

"Jerry, several times, has told me and my family that I am not going to wear a jersey other than a White Sox jersey," Abreu told Van Schouwen. "I believe him. I believe in his word. And like I said, I’m very happy with and loyal to this organization. Hopefully everything is going to pan out."

That's the latest example of the mutual admiration between Abreu and the White Sox. Abreu has spent much of 2019 talking about his love for the organization and his desire to stay with the team as it makes the transition from rebuilding mode to contention mode. Likewise, White Sox brass continuously talks about how much Abreu means to the team, not only as a productive hitter but as a mentor for the team's growing group of young players.

“The impact that I don’t think he really knows that he has is how hard of a worker he is,” James McCann said last month at the All-Star Game in Cleveland. “He’s a superstar. He’s a three-time All Star, he puts up unreal numbers, he’s setting organizational records. But you wouldn’t know that based on the way that he acts, the way that he goes about his business, the way that he works. He’s the first one in the cage, he’s in the weight room every day, he leads by example.

“So for me, the impact that he has is when a young kid shows up there and thinks he’s made it and then looks at this guy over here who’s busting his tail day in and day out. That’s only a good thing. It helps the culture. It helps the clubhouse realize, ‘Hey, we’ve still got to work.’”

While general manager Rick Hahn has made it clear that it's unlikely Abreu would get a new deal before the end of the season, with the White Sox preferring to take care of such business in the offseason, he's also said that it's "very likely" Abreu will be around for the good times after experiencing nothing but losing records in his six big league seasons with the White Sox since coming over from Cuba ahead of the 2014 campaign.

Abreu's resume is undeniably terrific, a three-time All Star with consistent levels of production that made him just the third player in major league history — along with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — to start his big league career with four straight seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs.

He's also red hot at the moment, with a .325/.382/.613 slash line to go along with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 20 games this month. And that's before he started Wednesday's game with three hits. He's on pace to smash his career high for RBIs, up to 96 of them on the campaign as of this writing. After a pair of freak injuries last season that limited his production in 2018, Abreu has played in every White Sox game but one this season.

The White Sox have repeatedly mentioned their love for Abreu as a mentor and role model for all the organization's young players, and it's clear that they hold him in the same esteem as players who have their numbers retired and have statues built at Guaranteed Rate Field. Reinsdorf presented Abreu with a specially made ring when Abreu hit for the cycle in 2017.

Abreu has returned that love over and over again in his comments, and it seems like a new contract between the two parties is inevitable.

"I’m telling you guys that if the White Sox don’t sign me, I’m going to sign here anyway. I’m going to sign myself here," he said last month. "I’m going to be here, believe me. I’m going to be here.

"I don’t want to miss this, I don’t want to miss what is coming, and I’m going to be here."

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