White Sox

White Sox offense continues to struggle in loss to Twins


White Sox offense continues to struggle in loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re 20 games in and what is expected to be a formidable offense still hasn’t surfaced for the White Sox.

Kyle Gibson did plenty and his defense did the rest as the Minnesota Twins scored on a Jose Quintana wild pitch and beat the White Sox 1-0 on Friday night in front of 22,794 at Target Field.

Gibson and Glen Perkins combined on a six-hitter as the White Sox lost their third straight and scored three runs or fewer for the 12th time in 20 games (they’re 1-11 in those contests). Quintana took the loss despite limiting the Twins to a run in seven innings.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche, who went 2-for-4. “We’ve run into some pitchers last few days that aren’t overpowering, but seem to be really hitting their spots and making pitches when they need them. Tonight, (Gibson) had that downhill plane, kept the ball down and had some run on it.”

Quintana (1-2) deserved much better.

It appeared like he might earn the 42nd no decision of his career when the White Sox got the go-ahead run into scoring position in the ninth inning.

[MORE: Ventura has addressed White Sox as individuals and as a group]

With two outs, pinch-hitter Gordon Beckham singled to left field, allowing Avisail Garcia to race to third. On the play, left fielder Eduardo Escobar bobbled the ball and Beckham reached second.

But Perkins blew two mid-90s fastball past Tyler Flowers for swinging strikes and then got the catcher looking at another for strike three.

They also had the bases loaded in the second inning, but Flowers grounded into an inning-ending double play when Gibson broke his bat. The Sox also had two on in the seventh inning but Flowers hit into a fielder’s choice and J.B. Shuck popped out to third.

To add injury to insult, the Twins took away several more hits in the fifth inning. Torii Hunter robbed Conor Gillaspie of at least a double with a leaping grab at the wall in right-center field and Joe Mauer had a diving stop for a fielder’s choice on J.B. Shuck’s grounder.

“They’re just not very opportunistic tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys had some pretty good at-bats. We swung it OK. They made some good plays on us, but we hit the ball hard. You just continue to go, continue to grind. Eventually that turns.”

Quintana’s luck has to, right?

He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning and nearly got out of one in the fifth inning only to throw a wild pitch with two outs to allow Kennys Vargas to score the game’s only run.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Quintana faced the minimum in four of seven innings and struck out five. He walked two.

But it wasn’t enough.

“I see the lineup,” Quintana said. “The guys feel bad when they try for you in the game. Two runs or something in these 1-0 games, that’s crazy. But it’s a crazy game and try your best and hope for the next one.”

The White Sox have to hope this offense, one with a team .238/.288/.345 slash line, wakes up quickly.

They expect it will, as Alexei Ramirez and LaRoche are notoriously slow starters. They figure Adam Eaton -- who missed Friday’s game with flu-like symptoms -- can’t carry a .241 on-base percentage forever. But a team that spent $67 million on Melky Cabrera and LaRoche to bolster the offense has produced 64 runs and been shut out twice, both times by Minnesota.

“We’re going through one of those stretches where we are just not getting it going across the board,” LaRoche said. “So, it will turn. It just sucks going through it.”


For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

The White Sox lost Saturday night.

That’s baseball, of course, they’re not all going to be winners. And this rebuilding franchise has seen plenty of losses. But the feelings have been so good of late — whether because of Eloy Jimenez’s 400-foot homers or Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young caliber season to this point or a variety of other positive signs that make the White Sox future so bright — that losing Saturday to the first-place New York Yankees seemed rather sour.

Obviously there will be plenty more losses for this White Sox team before the book closes on the 2019 campaign. Back under .500, these South Siders aren’t expected to reach elite status before all the pieces arrive, and it would be no shock if they’re removed from the playoff race in the American League by the time crunch time rolls around in September.

But don’t tell these White Sox that an 8-4 defeat is a return to reality or a reminder that this team is still a work in progress. Even if, for a lot of players, development is still occurring at the major league level, the “learning experiences” that have been such a large part of the conversation surrounding this team in recent seasons and their daily goal of winning baseball games aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Yankees are sitting in first place and they lost two games in a row,” catcher James McCann said Saturday night, providing a reminder of how the first two games of this weekend series went. “Just because you're expected to win and expected to be World Series contenders doesn't mean you're not going to lose ballgames. It's how you bounce back.

“And it doesn't mean you're going to win tomorrow, either. It's just, how do you handle a defeat? How do you handle a bad at-bat? How do you handle a bad outing, whatever it may be? But it doesn't mean that we step back and say, ‘Oh, we're back under .500, we're supposed to lose.’

“We expect to win when we show up to the ballpark. You can take learning experiences whether you win or lose. Do I think a game like tonight reminds us we're supposed to be in a rebuilding mode? No. We still expect to win, and we're going to show up tomorrow with that mentality.”

Maybe that’s a description of the much-discussed “learning to win” young teams supposedly need to do on the road to contender status. Maybe that can’t happen until a team figures out how to bounce back from a defeat — until it learns how to lose and how to act in the wake of a loss.

For all McCann’s certainty about the team’s expectations on a daily basis, his explanation was peppered with questions. He said he’s seen the answer to “how do you bounce back?” from this club, and his three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday night was fairly convincing evidence that the White Sox didn’t use up all their fight just getting back to .500.

So while the White Sox know they won’t win every game — that no team will — they need to know how they handle defeat. Losing, it turns out, might end up being more instructive about when this team is ready to win.

“I think we've done a pretty good job (bouncing back),” McCann said. “You look at the road trip in Houston and Minnesota where we took two out of four from a good Houston team and then played really not very good baseball for three days in Minnesota only to come home and have an extremely good homestand.

“It's the big picture. It's not the very next day. It's not, ‘We've got to bounce back and win.’ It's not a must-win situation in the middle of June. But it's how do you handle yourself? How does a game like tonight, do you show up flat tomorrow and let it snowball into a three-, four-game spiral? Or do you fight?

“And that's what this team's been really good at doing is fighting and not giving in.”

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Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

The temperature is rising on the South Side, and if you look outside, you know it has nothing to do with Mother Nature.

Instead, it’s a heat wave coming from a fresh-faced 22-year-old slugger who’s crushing baseballs, igniting a fan base and screaming “Hi Mom!” to his actual mother whenever he spots a TV camera with its red light on.

Eloy Jimenez has arrived with the White Sox, and according to a New York Yankees All Star who has known him for years, the best is yet to come.

“Not this year, but next year, he’s going to be even better,” infielder Gleyber Torres said about Jimenez.

The two of them were signed by that team across town in 2013 when they were both 16 years old. They were practically inseparable back then, and they remain tight to this day.

“I talk with Gleyber pretty much every single day now. He’s kind of like my brother,” Jimenez said. “We haven’t lost that communication, and I think that’s good for us.”

Torres echoed similar thoughts about Jimenez.

“In my first couple years with the Cubs, he was my roommate every day. We’ve got a really good relationship. We’re like brothers. We are really good friends,” Torres said. “I’m just happy to see what he’s doing right now.”

Which, lately, has been just about everything.

There was that majestic home run Jimenez belted on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals that landed on the center field concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field, the two walks the next day when the Yankees decided to pitch around Jimenez as if he was a perennial All Star, and then the two-homer game on Friday: The first one gave the White Sox the lead, the second stuck a dagger into the Yankees, as well as the heart of his longtime friend.

“For sure, I didn’t like it,” Torres said with a smile about Jimenez’s two-homer, six-RBI game. “I’m not surprised. I knew Eloy before he signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican. He’s a big dude. The power is coming every day.”

How good can Jimenez be? Torres, who plays on a star-studded team with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, sees Jimenez reaching the same stratosphere.

“He can be a star for all of MLB. He’s just a young guy right now, but when he matures a little more, he can do everything.”

Jimenez is turning up the heat in Chicago, and it’s not even summer yet.

The South Side can’t wait for the sizzle to come.

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