White Sox

White Sox pitching continues strong start in win over Indians

White Sox pitching continues strong start in win over Indians

CLEVELAND — He enjoys pitching at Progressive Field anyway, but Derek Holland had extra motivation on Wednesday night.

An Ohio product, Holland dedicated Wednesday's effort to the memory of his grandmother, Pat Henderson, who passed away during spring training. Holland spun six scoreless innings and his bullpen did the rest as the White Sox held off the Cleveland Indians 2-1 in front of 15,628 at Progressive Field.

Holland (one hit allowed) and three White Sox relievers combined on a three-hitter to lower the staff earned-run average to 2.54. Matt Davidson's two-run single in the second inning provided the White Sox with their only offense.

"This is where I'm home," Holland said. "To be honest, this game meant a lot more to me. Last time before my grandma passed away, this is where she got to see me pitch."

Holland grew up about 2 1/2 hours away from Cleveland in Newark, Ohio. He's pitched extremely well in his five games at Progressive Field, including a shutout in 2011. Holland lowered his ERA to 1.02 at Progressive Field, the lowest all-time of any pitcher with at least 30 innings.

Wednesday was no different as Holland started the game with five no-hit innings. But the left-hander said all credit belonged to a defense that tracked down six-hard hit balls by Indians hitters.

Even so, Holland impressively escaped jams in the second and sixth innings despite two men reaching in each frame. He issued one of his four walks in each inning and had men on first and second base with one or fewer outs in both innings.

But Holland struck out Brandon Guyer and Yandy Diaz in the second and induced an inning-ending grounder out of Roberto Perez. After Francisco Lindor broke up the no-hitter in the sixth with a double and Edwin Encarnacion walked with one out, Holland retired Jose Ramirez and Guyer to escape again.

"He has worked out of a couple of situations," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's had some walks, but he continues to try to pound the zone, and he's been able to keep them off-balance. His secondary pitches have been very good. He has been spotting his fastball very well.

"He has been around. He's pretty composed and poised out there in every situation. It has been nice to see."

The bullpen also showed its poise in a building where Cleveland recently has shown a penchant for late-innings magic against the White Sox. The Indians are 25-13 against the White Sox in Cleveland since 2013 with nine walkoff victories, including Tuesday's.

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But Anthony Swarzak, Nate Jones and David Robertson ensured there'd be no comeback on Wednesday. Swarzak pumped 95-mph fastballs into the zone and struck out two in a scoreless inning in his 2017 debut. Jones then nearly yielded a game-tying homer to Lindor, who doubled high off the left-field fence. Jones allowed a run but also stranded the tying runner at third when he struck out Encarnacion and got Ramirez to ground out weakly.

Robertson then struck out two batters in the ninth inning to record his first save. Afterward he praised Holland for an effort that lowered his ERA to 1.50. The White Sox pitching staff has a 2.54 ERA.

"He was amazing tonight," Robertson said. "Defense played great behind him. He looked very calm and relaxed. Threw a lot of pitches that were close calls and could have gone either way. He filled up the zone and did what a starter is supposed to do."

Holland said family members from both sides attended Wednesday's game. He also wrote "G-R-A-N-N-Y" on the mound before his first pitch.

"Good to see the family out there," Holland said. "It meant a lot to me. It was a great game."

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”