White Sox

White Sox offense struggles again in loss to Rays

White Sox offense struggles again in loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jose Quintana missed the bag on Sunday afternoon.

The White Sox and their struggling offense missed out on a chance to earn another series victory.

Quintana’s two-out error in the third inning allowed a critical run to score as the Tampa Bay Rays held on to send the White Sox to a 3-2 loss in front of 21,810 at Tropicana Field. Matt Moore struck out 10 over 6 1/3 dominant innings to outdo Quintana, who struck out six himself.

“You end up missing first and it ends up costing you,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s how close it. Moore was fantastic and something like that ends up costing Q.”

Though he ultimately settled in to face the minimum over his final three innings, Quintana got hit hard early. Tampa Bay scored once in the first inning on a Steve Pearce RBI double to center.

The Rays really made Quintana labor in the third with the score tied at 1.

Logan Forsythe doubled and scored on a Brandon Guyer RBI single, one of four hits for the right fielder. After Evan Longoria singled, Quintana battled back and struck out Pearce and retired Desmond Jennings on a pop out to second. Quintana appeared to get out of the jam with just the run allowed as Logan Morrison hit a grounder to first. But even though Jose Abreu made a nice flip, Quintana missed tagging the base by a wide margin, which allowed Guyer to score all the way from second for a 3-1 lead.

“Jose did a good job,” Quintana said. “I caught the ball. He threw it to me in a good spot. But I never saw the base, and that was the point. I just missed the base. When we play in this situation, you try to go in a good direction, but that’s all. I just missed the base.”

Moore made a similar error in the top of the third that gave the White Sox their first hit (an Adam Eaton infield single) and sparked a game-tying, two-out rally as Austin Jackson singled to right to drive in a run.

But that was the last mistake Moore made until he tired in the seventh inning.

Moore struck out Jose Abreu to strand runners on the corners and end the rally, which prompted the slugger to hit his bat in frustration.

Using a fastball-knuckle curve combo, Moore retired 11 of the next 12 he faced.

This is what happens when a cold offense (see: 15 runs in six games) runs into a pitcher who spotted his fastball outside and had his offspeed diving inside to righties.

“We’ve been struggling,” Ventura said. “But today, I don’t know too many teams that would go up against Moore and do anything. He was fantastic and it was coming out of his hand great and we scuffled. We’re a swing-and-miss kind of team and we’ve got some pop with it, but today he was just better.”

The left-hander struck out Todd Frazier and Jerry Sands three times each.

It wasn’t until Brett Lawrie doubled in the seventh that the White Sox got to Moore again. Avisail Garcia singled in Lawrie to make it a 3-2 game and chase Moore, who gave up five hits and hit one. But the combination of Enny Romero and Alex Colome combined to retire eight of nine batters to close out the game.

Frazier struck out again to start the ninth inning ahead of a walk by pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera. Colome battled back and induced a Brett Lawrie pop out and Garcia grounder to end the game.

Frazier, who has struck out 14 times in 49 at-bats, praised Moore’s effort. He also noted that the White Sox, himself included, missed hittable pitches.

Though the White Sox offense struggled on the road, the team won four of six. Frazier is taking solace in that despite the team’s slow offensive start.

“It’s been a rough stretch,” Frazier said. “But if you’d tell me we’d be 8-4 right now, I’d say that’s great, good start. You’ve got to work on the positives. It’s just one of those days. It has been adding up a little bit. It’s early, but at the same time, you want to be doing well. Maybe trying a little too much. But we’ll take 8-4 any day of the week.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka


Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?


Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.