White Sox

White Sox rally again for seventh win in 10 tries

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White Sox rally again for seventh win in 10 tries

OAKLAND — The White Sox offense has begun to develop a knack for the big comeback.

A five-run, seventh-inning rally Friday night helped the White Sox win for the seventh time in 10 games as they downed the Oakland A’s 7-6 in front of 21,464. Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia each had two-run hits and Zach Duke earned a four-out save with the help of a great, game-ending defensive play as the White Sox — who have nine comeback victories — improved to 15-17.

“It just says a lot about guys’ fight and not laying down and assuming we’re beat,” said LaRoche, who drove in three runs. “That’s been huge for us to be borderline dead for five or six innings with nothing going and then all of a sudden go out and score three or four runs.”

Just like they did on Monday in Milwaukee, and several times earlier in the season, the White Sox rallied from what seemed like an insurmountable deficit.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Carlos Sanchez used April demotion as motivation]

The White Sox trailed 6-2 with Oakland starter Jesse Hahn on a roll, having retired 18 of 20 after he allowed two first-inning runs.

But Brett Lawrie’s error on Geovany Soto’s one-out grounder and a single to left by Carlos Sanchez woke the White Sox from their slumber.

Adam Eaton then just beat the relay on a potential inning-ending double play and Melky Cabrera followed with an RBI single off reliever Fernando Rodriguez. Rodriguez hit Jose Abreu to load the bases and LaRoche shaved the deficit to 6-5 with a two-run double to right center off left-hander Fernando Abad. Avisail Garcia completed the comeback with a two-run double to left-center field off Evan Scribner.

“As much as it sputtered for awhile it’s been good lately,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It was a good first inning and after that Hahn was tough. I think he only gave up one hit after four or five innings.

“I think they kinda fed off each other.

“It was big.”

The White Sox looked as if they’d continue a recent hot streak with the bats after scoring twice off Hahn in the first inning. LaRoche drew a bases-loaded walk to put them ahead 1-0 and Conor Gillaspie singled in another run. But the White Sox left a few runs on the board as Hahn wiggled out of trouble and took control.

Before Lawrie’s error gave, the only hit off Hahn came via an Alexei Ramirez bunt single in the fourth.

The White Sox offense entered Friday hitting .285/.350/.408 with 50 runs scored in its previous 11 games. The same group scored 64 in its first 20 games.

“We’ve shown that the game is never really over,” Duke said. “We’ve come back late in games, so we’re staying on edge out there in the bullpen at all times.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

A ninth-inning rally by Oakland nearly sent the game into extras. With David Robertson off limits (he pitched on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday), Duke returned in the ninth to close it out. He walked pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt with two outs and Coco Crisp lined a double to deep left-center field. A’s third-base coach Mike Gallego waved Vogt home and a strong relay from Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez with a cut off by Jose Abreu led to a game-ending rundown.

“Hooray,” Duke said. “Hallelujah. It was just awesome, just expertly done. Every throw hit the guy in the chest, and a head’s up play to cut it off.”

Rookie starting pitcher Carlos Rodon had to be having similar thoughts after he was out of sorts.

Making his second career start, Rodon hit a wild streak, walking six batters, including three in the fourth inning. Rodon, who pitched out of trouble in the first three innings, gave up a leadoff solo home run to left to former Charlotte batterymate Josh Phegley in the fourth.

One out later, Rodon issued three straight walks and Josh Reddick later cleared the bases with a three-run triple to put Oakland ahead 4-2.

The next inning, Rodon walked two more batters — one scored — and gave way to reliever Scott Carroll. Carroll allowed a run in the sixth when Reddick doubled and Billy Butler singled him in as the A’s pulled ahead 6-2.

“That’s big,” Rodon said. “Teammates picked me up, the bats showed up later on in the game and we scored, made a big run there and end up winning that game. It’s a lot better than losing, that’s for sure.”

 

José Abreu: Dallas Keuchel's words or not, White Sox would have played better

José Abreu: Dallas Keuchel's words or not, White Sox would have played better

Dallas Keuchel spoke, and the White Sox responded.

That was an easy way to read what happened this week in Detroit.

After a seemingly listless performance in the series-opener — a 5-1 defeat that followed the sting of a missed opportunity against the Cleveland Indians one night earlier — Keuchel addressed the team. Then he told reporters what he told his teammates.

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“I would have liked to see the team play better tonight, especially after a kind of defeating loss last night,” the veteran left-hander said Monday. “We just came out flat, and I feel like we just stayed flat the whole game. … We've got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound and doing what it takes to win, and we've got some guys going through the motions. So we need to clean a lot of things up. If we want to be in this thing at the end of the season, we're going to have to start that now.

“When you have enough talent to potentially win every game, it's very frustrating when you have games like this, and it just seems like we were out of it from the get go.”

The White Sox won the next two games in Detroit, scoring 15 runs on a combined 18 hits.

So Keuchel woke everybody up. His words spurred these White Sox.

Right?

“I think the conversation that we had with him, that he had with us, it didn’t really effect the way that we played the last two games,” first baseman José Abreu said Friday through team interpreter Billy Russo. “I think that we would do that either way.

“I do appreciate the conversation that he had with us. He had some concerns, and he’s a veteran. He shared those concerns with us, and I appreciate that. But it’s not a secret that the first game in Detroit wasn’t one of our best games. That was a bad game for us. But it wasn’t because we didn’t want to do good. It just was one of those games where we couldn’t do better in that particular time. The next two days, we did perform and we did what we were supposed to do.

“That’s why I think there’s no reason for people to put the spotlight on what Dallas said because we won the last two games. I think we would do it either way.”

Before anyone thinks of making the leap to clubhouse controversy, know this. Abreu, who’s been described as a team leader and certainly has been a mentor and a role model to the young players around him over the last few seasons, has been a vocal proponent of two things: the need for players to work hard and do the things they’re supposed to do to put themselves in position to win, and the high level of talent these young White Sox have.

With rebuilding cornerstones like Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez and now Luis Robert firmly under his wing, it’s understandable Abreu would be protective of them and their fellow youngsters when called out for a lack of effort. And why shouldn’t he if that’s not what he’s seeing? Few are closer to those guys on a daily basis, and he would know if they weren’t living up to his own high standards when it comes to work ethic. Of course, Keuchel didn’t name any names, and those closest to Abreu might not have been the ones he was referencing Monday night.

Abreu has spent years talking up how good this group of players can be, and he knows what it's capable of. It's no surprise that he believed the White Sox capable of turning in a better performance than the one they did Monday night, and that belief would have been the same whether Keuchel opened up or if no one said a word.

RELATED: White Sox face Cardinals with another bullpen day in Game 2 of doubleheader

For what it’s worth, another White Sox mainstay was more willing to connect the dots between what Keuchel said and what happened in the days that followed.

“I hope they had some effect,” manager Rick Renteria said Friday. “I hope it affected them. I think any time you have a peer trying to motivate you, it's a good thing, especially somebody who's been around a little bit.

“As we've talked about before over the last three or four years, at some point we want the players to go ahead and take ownership. We've had guys doing it subtly, you guys haven't heard about it. In this instance, you heard about it. And I hope it did have an effect.”

This seems less like the White Sox answering the prayers of talk radio with a brewing battle inside the clubhouse and more just an interesting comparison of vantage points.

Keuchel knows what it’s like to win. He’s got a World Series ring on his finger. But Abreu knows this team. He knows these guys. Keuchel’s a newcomer, but one brought in partially because of his winning experience. Abreu has no winning experience in the major leagues, all six of his previous White Sox seasons ending in sub-.500 finishes, but perhaps no player in that clubhouse is more familiar with the intricacies of this franchise’s rebuilding process. And the White Sox made what seemed like an easy decision to keep him a central part of it with his three-year contract in the offseason.

This season — before it was all jumbled up by the pandemic — was supposed to be about the White Sox finally reaching the stage of their rebuild where they started to win. But it was also supposed to be about getting to that point. A schedule squeezed down to 60 games, and an American League playoff field expanded from five to eight teams, might have given the White Sox a better chance to do something they haven't done in more than a decade. But the shortened season robbed them of the typical six-month marathon in which a team can evolve into a winner.

Keuchel and Abreu both have important roles to play in getting the White Sox to where they want to be, and both of those vantage points will be critical along the way.

Remember: They both want the exact same thing.

“I told Rick Hahn this,” Keuchel said during spring training, “I said four out of the last five years I've made the playoffs, and I don't expect any of these three years to be any different.”

“I think it's just about time for us to start winning,” Abreu said around the same time. “It's just that time for us to start winning games and start to be relevant.

“The team that the front office put together, we're going to be able to do it. We have to be united. We need to be strong in good times and bad times if we want to be successful this season. With the guys that we have right now, that's something that's doable. That's our goal.

“I think expectations are high because we all know that this is the time for us to win.”


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White Sox face Cardinals with another bullpen day in Game 2 of doubleheader

White Sox face Cardinals with another bullpen day in Game 2 of doubleheader

Despite their preseason stockpile of starting-pitching depth, the White Sox will resort to their second bullpen day of the season in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Lucas Giolito, the ace of the South Side staff, takes the ball in the first game against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, who will be seeing game action for the first time in more than two weeks as they finally resume play at the end of a pause caused by nearly 20 positive tests for COVID-19 among players and staff.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria revealed Friday that Game 2 will feature another group effort by his relief corps. Remember that doubleheader games are now just seven innings long.

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This bullpen day comes just one week after the last. A week ago, in the second game of the White Sox series with the Cleveland Indians, Renteria called on seven different relievers in a 7-1 loss. While Matt Foster started things well, Drew Anderson, who was newly called up from the team's alternate training site in Schaumburg, fell apart in the fourth inning and was tagged for six runs. With the White Sox unable to solve Indians starter Zach Plesac that day, the remaining five White Sox pitchers mostly served in mop-up duty.

Now, that's certainly not to say every bullpen day will yield a similar result. The White Sox bullpen has looked like a strength this season, even if the team's relief ERA of 4.15 was just the 15th best in baseball as of this writing. But it's a perfect example of how quickly the White Sox starting-pitching depth has been drained and the position it's put the team in just a third of the way through this shortened 60-game season.

Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón remain on the injured list with no timetables for their returns to the White Sox rotation. Gio González has been called on to fill in for López, and he's been unable to make it out of the fifth inning in any of his first three starts in a White Sox uniform, though the team has won two of those three games. There has been no replacement in the rotation for Rodón.

RELATED: White Sox, Cardinals to play doubleheader after Friday's game postponed

Back on Aug. 5, general manager Rick Hahn said both injured pitchers could be back in action within a few weeks, certainly better than season-ending diagnoses for those two key cogs. But a few weeks is a big chunk of this 60-game season. With Renteria not delivering timelines for either pitcher Friday, it seems Saturday's bullpen day might not be the last one we see from the White Sox this summer.

For those wondering where highly touted pitching prospect Dane Dunning fits into all this, Hahn specifically said that Dunning would not be called upon to take Rodón's spot last weekend. The general manager said on Aug. 5 that Dunning, coming off Tommy John surgery, had not yet worked his way to the kind of length the team wants to see from starting pitchers at the big league level. That's not to say Dunning won't appear at all for the White Sox this season, but as of nine days ago, he wasn't ready yet, not to mention that the front office continues to operate under the idea that an injury at the major league level should have no effect on when a prospect is ready for a promotion.

But with López and Rodón on the shelf — along with youngster Jimmy Lambert, who's on the 45-day injured list — Dunning not ready, Michael Kopech electing not to play this season due to personal reasons and Ross Detwiler limited to a relief role at the moment, there are few if any places for the White Sox to turn. The team inked veteran left-hander Clayton Richard to a minor league deal, but Hahn said going outside the organization for rotation help isn't very likely with the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month.

That all makes it seem like bullpen days might be something to get used to for a little while.


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