White Sox

White Sox mistakes doom them in loss to Cubs

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White Sox mistakes doom them in loss to Cubs

The White Sox have nobody to blame for Saturday night’s loss but themselves.

Looking more like the error-prone club they were in the first half, the one that tripped all over itself, the White Sox missed out on key chances and were all about the freebies in a 6-3 loss to the Cubs in front of 39,579 at U.S. Cellular Field.

En route to their second straight loss, the White Sox committed two errors and stranded eight as they finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Winners of nine straight, the Cubs send Dan Haren against Chris Sale on Sunday as they look to complete series sweep.

“You look at the whole game and they made some mistakes we didn’t capitalize on and we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They put some stuff in play and they scored when we made some mistakes.

“You know the reason why you’re in a tough spot tonight.”

[MORE: Ventura 'shocked' by news of John Farrell's cancer diagnosis]

The first difficult position was choosing between red-hot hitters Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber in the fifth inning with a man on second and two outs in a 1-all game. Ventura elected for the lefty-lefty matchup for Jose Quintana (Fowler doubled in a run in the third) and Schwarber, hitless in his first two at-bats, made them pay.

“The swings that Schwarber had against Q earlier, Q’s better against lefties, it’s a better matchup,” Ventura said.

Schwarber ripped a 2-2 inside fastball from Quintana into right field for a tie-breaking single, though Avisail Garcia nearly threw Addison Russell out at home.

“I tried to go in,” Quintana said. “It was bad pitch and I have to be better on that pitch.”

The White Sox could say the same thing about their defense. Several miscues led to another Cubs run in the sixth.

Lost in the sky at dusk, center fielder Adam Eaton never had sight of Anthony Rizzo’s routine fly until it was too late and then he and Melky Cabrera nearly collided, resulting in a one-out double.

“Very helpless,” Eaton said. “It was a tough play. When it went up, trying to communicate to everyone that I can’t see the ball. As scary as it is, you don’t see it until it hits the lights. At that moment in time, I saw the ball. I didn’t hear Melky and I didn’t really know where he was so the center fielder in me said ‘I need to catch the ball here.’

“Probably wasn’t the right play to call for it.”

Jorge Soler singled to left and Cabrera threw high to the plate, just over Tyler Flowers’ glove, which allowed the run to score. Soler advanced to second on the play, as Quintana didn’t back up the throw.

Quintana allowed three earned runs and seven hits in six innings.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

A White Sox error in the seventh inning -- the result of two bad throws -- fueled a three-run rally to help the Cubs put the game out of reach.

With two on and one out and the Cubs leading 3-2, Zach Duke fielded Schwarber’s comebacker but threw high to second base. Though Alexei Ramirez caught it for the second out, he bounced an ill-advised relay throw to first -- Schwarber would have been safe anyway -- and Jose Abreu couldn’t pick it, which allowed David Ross to score from third. Rizzo and Soler then each singled in a run with two outs to give the Cubs a 6-2 lead.

A four-run cushion was plenty for Jake Arrieta, who wasn’t as sharp as he has been but was plenty good. Arrieta’s throwing error in the second inning on Ramirez’s comebacker led to a run. But after he stranded a man on second base in the first inning, Arrieta struck out Flowers to leave Ramirez at third in the second. Arrieta then pitched around Kris Bryant’s one-out error in the fourth.

With Garcia on third, Arrieta got another comebacker from Ramirez and had the lead runner hung up only for Bryant to drop the throw. But Arrieta struck out Carlos Sanchez -- who had an RBI groundout in the second -- and Flowers to strand the pair and keep it a 1-1 game.

Arrieta allowed five hits and three earned runs, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 14-6.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” Flowers said. “They’re taking advantage of mistakes. It seemed like every time someone got into scoring position they found a way to get him across some way, shooting balls down lines or blooping them in. They’re swinging it well, we’ve just got to score more runs.”

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

Back for another round of questions here in the Sox Drawer. Let's go.

Q: Do you believe this is the Sox "Lester" offseason where they make a large investment in a player for the future? Or are we still one year away from seeing this? — @BCurley3

CG: That's a question many White Sox fans are wondering about. And by the "Lester" signing, I assume you are referring to the likes of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. I'd like to think that if the White Sox have a desire to sign a big-name free agent, they will make every attempt to do it now and not wait for the 2020 free agents, even if it's coming off a 100-loss season. As general manager Rick Hahn put it in his season-ending press conference, "You can't always control when certain players become available. You can say in 2020 or 2021 we expect to be this, and we know we are going to need X. You can't look at the projected free agent and say that player will be available, much less that player will be a White Sox when the time comes." It might turn out that the White Sox don't sign that marquee free agent this offseason, but going off what Hahn said, I believe they will go all-in when their targeted "Jon Lester" is available.

Q: If you had your choice, would the White Sox sign Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado? — @Dehhmac_

CG: I'll take either. Arenado gets the edge defensively. Machado has the advantage offensively. One stat about Arenado that gives me some pause is his career home/away splits. At Coors Field, he's slashing .320/.374/.609. Away from Coors Field, he's at .263/.318/.469. He's still a great player, but his numbers are inflated due to the higher elevation in Denver. If they don't sign him to a contract extension this winter, I'm curious to see if the Rockies listen to trade offers during the Winter Meetings like the Orioles did with Machado last year. The Rockies are much more competitive than the Orioles, so they might decide to go for it one more time with Arenado. If not, a crazy Winter Meetings just got crazier.

Q: I have long expected this to be the offseason when the Sox start signing free agents. However, lately, I've heard about possible big-name trade potentials. Do you expect trades this early in the rebuild or mainly acquisition through free agency? — @ToddHertz

CG: At some point, the White Sox will probably dip into their farm system to acquire major league upgrades where they see fit. Because there were so many injuries to prospects last season, I'm not sure they've seen enough to know exactly what they have to make those kind trades just yet. However, the one position in the minors where they seem very deep right now is in the outfield. That could be an area they could subtract from to add elsewhere. I think the White Sox timed their rebuild very well with free agency. Last year's lackluster free-agent class was a great time to be on the sidelines. The next two winters will have much better talent available. The White Sox don't have much on the books and will be in a good financial position to make upgrades.

Q: After Eloy comes up in April who's the next guy in waiting and when does he come up? —  @franknacchio19

CG: With two open spots in the rotation, we could see a few prospects compete for starting jobs in spring training. Jordan Guerrero, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams are possibilities. All three of them finished the season at Charlotte and could be close to knocking on the door. The next big name after that would seemingly be Dylan Cease, who if he continues to pitch like he did this past season will probably be on the Michael Kopech timeline to the majors, and Kopech came up in August.

Q: If the rumors are true and the Diamondbacks dismantle their roster, which player on their roster makes sense for this White Sox team long term? —  @mr_zablocki

Q: Who would you hypothetically trade for Goldshmidt? — @DaRealScaletta​​​​​​​

CG: Looking at the Diamondbacks' roster, there aren't many natural fits with the White Sox rebuild. Where's the All-Star third baseman on a rebuilding team with a four-year, team-friendly contract? I like Zack Greinke, but he's going to be 35-years-old and has three years and $104 million left on his contract. A 27-year-old Robbie Ray would be solid, but he's under team control for only two more years. Paul Goldschmidt is an all-world first baseman with three Gold Gloves, but he's a free agent after next season. Depending on what the White Sox do with Jose Abreu, who also has one year left on his contract, maybe they go after Goldschmidt next offseason if they don't re-sign Abreu.

Q: Tell a Yolmer story. — @NJBooth20

CG: Yolmer was wearing this cool T-shirt in the clubhouse this past season. On the front, it said "play hard" with a photo of him making Mickey Mouse ears. On the back it said "have fun," and there's the photo of him pouring Gatorade all over himself. I asked him if I could have one of those T-shirts. He said, "50 dollars." I countered with, "How about 30?" With perfect comedic timing, Yolmer came back with, "Make it 10." He might not be the best bargainer in the world, but Yolmer Sanchez is definitely one of the funniest people around.

Q: Why did Nagy run the ball on 3rd and 4?? — @rypie182​​​​​​​

CG: Not sure.

Q: Can I leave a voicemail? Too drunk to tweet. — @HurriKayne26​​​​​​​

CG: Rough Bears game.

Q: Who will be the biggest surprise and/or the greatest improvement for next season's team? — @nicklicious33​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. If he's able to come back, I can think of one person in particular who would be quite an incredible surprise in 2019. That's Danny Farquhar. At home in California recovering from his near-death brain aneurysm, Farquhar is training with the hopes of pitching in the majors again, possibly as soon as 2019. I wouldn't put it past him. He's a special person who has been defying the odds since that horrific night in April. It would be great to see!

Thanks again for all of your questions. We'll do it again next week.

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.