White Sox

White Sox offense keeps sputtering in loss to Royals

White Sox offense keeps sputtering in loss to Royals

The White Sox were spotted a bases-loaded, nobody-out opportunity to break out of their collective slump. But even putting things on a figurative tee weren’t enough. 

All the White Sox got from that sparkling run-scoring chance in the seventh inning was one run, which was the team’s only tally in a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals in front of 27,631 Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. 

It was the team’s eighth loss in its last 10 games and dealt the American League Central leaders their fourth consecutive series loss in a row. The White Sox aren’t hitting the panic button right now, but haven’t consistently put together both good pitching and good hitting since sweeping the Minnesota Twins two weeks ago. 

“We all have to come together as a unit, as hitters, and understand that we are good and when we get opportunities, we have to capitalize whether it’s a sac fly or ground out and do our job,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “That’s what we haven’t been doing as hitters.”

After being muted for six innings by the combination of Royals starter Danny Duffy — who was on a strict pitch count and only threw 4 1/3 innings — and reliever Peter Moylan, the White Sox offense seemed to wake up in the seventh against left-hander Brian Flynn. Dioner Navarro drew a leadoff walk, and Tyler Saladino followed with a single to left. 

Adam Eaton then laid down a bunt, which was uncharacteristically bobbled by sure-handed Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas to load the bases. Up stepped Jose Abreu — hitting second for the second consecutive game — to face Joakim Soria with the tying run on second. 

Abreu meekly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring Navarro but neutering the inning. Frazier struck out, stranding the tying run on third, to end the frame. 

Abreu entered Saturday with just a .646 OPS with runners in scoring position, the product of just one extra-base hit (a double). 

“You could see it as far as getting in those situations trying to probably hit a seven-run homer,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You can’t get out of it that way. You gotta be able to relax and get through it.

“… The tough part of baseball is they don’t just give you a week off where there aren’t going to be any games. So I don’t know if he gets a day off or not but we’ll be there for him.”

It hasn’t just been Abreu, though. Frazier pointed to his hitless showing this series, and Brett Lawrie’s sixth-inning single ended an 0-19 stretch. The confluence of middle-of-the-order slumps has been magnified against the defending World Series champs, who have played much better than their 22-20 record would suggest this weekend. 

Starter Miguel Gonzalez did his part by turning in his best start in a White Sox uniform. The 31-year-old right-hander scattered two runs over six innings on six hits with eight strikeouts and no walks — his first start since last July that he didn’t issue a free pass. 

Kansas City plated a run in the first inning on an Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly, and Lorenzo Cain swatted a solo home run in the sixth to notch the second tally. 

“There’s always slim margins that make it hurt,” Ventura said. “If you get blown out 10-1, you had no chance anyway. These are always the ones you look back at the opportunities you had and they’re harder to get over.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'


Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one


Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.