White Sox

White Sox put themselves in 'tough spot' in loss to Twins

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White Sox put themselves in 'tough spot' in loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- This isn’t where the White Sox envisioned themselves come September 1.

Instead of competing for a postseason spot, the White Sox continue to harm themselves with poor play. Instead of beating up on Minnesota, the Twins have beat up on them.

Even though they rallied from four down on Tuesday night, the White Sox dropped another critical game, 8-6, as several late errors doomed them against the red-hot Twins at Target Field.

Zach Duke and Tyler Saladino each had errors in the eighth inning as Minnesota, which started the day one back of the second wild-card spot, scored four times against the White Sox bullpen. The White Sox have lost 10 of 14 meetings with the Twins this season.

“I literally did nothing to help us win a game today, and it’s borderline embarrassing,” Duke said. “If I give up one, OK, but I gave up three. It puts us in a really tough spot. It’s hard to swallow.”

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Duke is hardly why the White Sox are 61-69 after 130 games.

Despite a large cash infusion of talent in the offseason, this team has failed to consistently put it all together for more than a few days at a time.

One day it’s the offense that struggles. Then the pitching staff, which has carried the most weight, falters for a day or two. Then the defense takes over.

On Tuesday it was the defense’s turn.

The White Sox had managed to work around a rough start by Chris Sale and found themselves ahead headed to the bottom of the seventh, 5-4. Sale retired Joe Mauer to start the inning but exited with 113 pitches.

Minnesota rookie Miguel Sano quickly tied the score with a 401-foot solo homer to left off Nate Jones.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Improved routine has Erik Johnson ready for second shot with White Sox]

An inning later, Eduardo Escobar doubled off Duke, who made an ill-advised throw to first on Kurt Suzuki’s bunt that got away, allowing Escobar to score the go-ahead run. Saladino then couldn’t handle Byron Buxton’s hot shot, which set up two more runs.

The White Sox scored once in the ninth and had the tying runs aboard for Jose Abreu flew out to center against Glen Perkins.

“Defensively, at the end, that’s what you are disappointed about,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You didn’t get it done that way. It’s tough. They’ve been battling. They’ve been tough on us all year. But the execution there at the end just didn’t get it done.”

Sale looked as if he was on his way to another rough start against the Twins, who had produced 17 of the 61 earned runs he has allowed this season in four starts before Tuesday. Whereas Sale has a 2.68 ERA against everyone else this season, he was 1-3 with a 6.46 ERA in four starts against Minnesota.

The Twins scored four times in the second to break open a scoreless game.

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But Sale kept the situation from snowballing and the White Sox rallied.

Sale struck out 10 -- his 13th start this season with at least 10 -- and allowed four earned runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one.

“We came back and fought,” Sale said. “You just want to give your team a chance to win and not let it snowball and make things worse.”

The White Sox rally began in the fifth when Adam LaRoche singled and Twins starter Tyler Duffey walked the next three batters, including Tyler Flowers with the bases loaded. Adam Eaton, who went 4-for-5, singled in two more to cut the lead to 4-3.

An inning later, Avisail Garcia’s two-run homer off Casey Fien gave the White Sox a one-run lead.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome the late mistakes.

“We continue to put ourselves in situations to be one hit away, so as long as we’re in those situations, we still have a chance,” Duke said. “The team never backs down and never rolls over. It’s encouraging to watch us grind out and come back in games, and then to give it up like I did tonight, it hurts.”

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.”