White Sox

White Sox offense stays in a funk in loss to Indians

White Sox offense stays in a funk in loss to Indians

Early in their 10-game homestand, Jimmy Rollins said when the White Sox score a run for Chris Sale it can feel like four to opponents.

Ditto for the White Sox offense, which is stuck in a deep freeze.

Despite a little late noise on Wednesday afternoon, the White Sox couldn’t find their way out of a funk that has now lasted a dozen games.

Corey Kluber pitched seven sharp innings and the White Sox lost their third straight to the Cleveland Indians, falling 4-3 in front of 22,561 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox -- who have produced three or fewer runs in nine of 12 games -- lost their fifth straight series, dropping three of four to Cleveland. The team’s lead in the American League Central has slipped to a half game after losing 11 of its last 15.

“We’re not putting up runs, that’s the bottom line,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “When your pitchers are busting their tail, we have to find a way to stop the burning and get some runs in.”

Melky Cabrera provided temporary relief with one out in the eighth inning with a two-run homer off Byran Shaw to get the White Sox within a run. Jose Abreu also singled off Shaw to give him three hits for a second straight game and put the tying run aboard. But Shaw got Brett Lawrie to foul out and Dioner Navarro grounded out to first base.

Indians closer Cody Allen retired the White Sox in order in the ninth inning.

Until recently, the White Sox have given themselves plenty of chances. They entered Wednesday with a .322 on-base percentage. But over their last dozen, the White Sox have a .289 OBP.

Kluber limited the White Sox to four at-bats with a runner in scoring position in the finale, allowing seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out nine.  

The right-hander was effective in keeping the White Sox cold in their limited chances.

Jimmy Rollins made the final out of the third inning with a groundout with a man in scoring position and flew out with two on to end the fifth. Adam Eaton -- who went 0-for-5 -- struck out ahead of Rollins in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh with a runner in scoring position.

The White Sox are 18-for-90 (.200) with four doubles, a home run and 23 RBIs with runners in scoring position in their last 12 games.

“Got runners on first and third less than two outs and I don’t get the job done, that’s unacceptable,” Eaton said. “It’s tough.

“We’ve got to score more runs, pitching has been there.

“We’ve got to step it up.”

An ineffective offense hurt White Sox starter Jose Quintana yet again.

He struggled early and found himself deep in a number of counts, but recovered to give the White Sox six solid innings.

Lonnie Chisenhall put Cleveland ahead for good in the second inning with a two-out, two-run triple to right field. Eaton just missed as he tried to making a spectacular diving grab, which allowed the ball to go to the wall.

The Indians added a run in the third off Quintana on a Juan Uribe sac fly.

Quintana retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. He allowed three earned runs and five hits with a walk in six innings. Quintana struck out eight.

Now the White Sox have to find their bats as they head back onto the road. The team has actually fared better away from U.S. Cellular Field this season, going 14-9 with an average of 4.74 runs a game compared to 3.48 in 25 home games.

But the White Sox are headed to Kansas City for four, followed by three against the New York Mets and three in Detroit.

“You keep going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You regroup. You get going. We had our big guys going and it didn’t go well for us. Offensively we can do some more.”

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

For over two years, Charlie Tilson was starting to look like his own version of "Moonlight" Graham, the player made famous in the movie "Field of Dreams" because he played in one major league game and never got to bat.

The White Sox traded for Tilson just before the trade deadline passed in 2016. Two days later he made his big league debut with the White Sox in Detroit. He got a single in his first at-bat, but left the game with an injury and missed the rest of the season. Tilson also missed all of the 2017 season and his MLB future was starting to come into question.

Back healthy, Tilson started this season in Triple-A Charlotte and hit .248 in 39 games when he got called up to replace Leury Garcia, who was placed on the disabled list. On Thursday, Tilson returned to a big league field for the first time in more than 20 months. He went 0-for-3 in a loss to Baltimore.

Friday marked a return to the site of Tilson's big league debut and the injury that made it such a brief stint. Tilson has now played three big league games, over the course of nearly 21 months, and two of them have been in Detroit.

Tilson went 1-for-4, meaning both his hits are in Comerica Park. The White Sox lost 5-4 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.