White Sox

White Sox retain Crosstown Cup, avert sweep behind Chris Sale's 15 Ks

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White Sox retain Crosstown Cup, avert sweep behind Chris Sale's 15 Ks

Shortly after Sunday’s 3-1 White Sox victory over the Cubs, Jose Abreu asked a clubhouse attendant to have Chris Sale autograph a baseball for him.

Abreu said the ball is a gift for his son, but nobody could blame him if he kept it for himself after Sale’s dominant performance in the finale of the 2015 Crosstown Cup.

Sale matched a career high with 15 strikeouts and didn’t yield a hit until the sixth inning as the White Sox won in front of 39,475 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Melky Cabrera all homered off Dan Haren as the White Sox stopped the Cubs’ nine-game winning streak and evened the teams’ season series at three games apiece. The series tie means the White Sox — whose pitchers struck out a franchise-record 18 and combined on a three-hitter — retained the Cup after they won three of four meetings in 2014.

“Everybody knows the quality he has,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “We have to thank God because he’s with us. He’s an outstanding pitcher, probably one of the best in baseball right now, and every time he’s on the mound for us — I don’t know how to explain it because he’s unbelievable.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Tyler Saladino's defense at third improves with experience]

Sale’s fastball-slider-changeup combo did all the talking from the outset.

The left-hander struck out the side on 14 pitches in the first inning and didn’t have a batter put the ball in play until Jorge Soler reached on an error in the second. Sale struck out two more in the second inning, another in the third and got all three batters in the fourth. His first eight strikeouts came via swings.

“He was ready to go,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He was fantastic today. I don't know, not too many times he's been better than that. He's had some that were close to it, but right from the start of the game, when he strikes out the guys in the first inning, strikes out the side, you're feeling pretty good about it. He was darn near unhittable for the time he was in there.”

Sale only got into trouble once as he loaded the bases in the sixth inning, hitting Anthony Rizzo on a pitch on which he appeared to not check his swing. Dexter Fowler ended Sale’s no-hit bid with a clean, one-out single to left in the sixth, and Chris Denorfia drew a walk ahead of the Rizzo at-bat.

But Sale got out of it with a strikeout of Soler, who took a 1-2 slider just off the outside corner for a called third strike.

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox make ‘tough’ decision to DFA Emilio Bonifacio]

Starting the seventh inning with 104 pitches, Sale struck out Addison Russell on three offspeed pitches, got Starlin Castro on a 2-2 slider and blew Miguel Montero away with a 1-2 fastball that registered 95 mph.

Sale struck out eight of nine Cubs starters, including Kris Bryant three times.

He limited the Cubs to a hit, two walks and a hit batter over seven innings and threw strikes on 73 of 116 pitches.

“A couple of guys had tough days against him,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “A couple of guys he executed every pitch in every at-bat against him. On their end they just have to top their cap. He’s tough when he doesn’t hit spots, and when he does it’s almost impossible.”

It wasn’t much easier against Nate Jones, who struck out the side on 13 pitches in a scoreless eighth inning, including pinch-hitters Kyle Schwarber and Chris Coghlan. Jones’ final strikeout established a new franchise record for the White Sox in a nine-inning game as they bested the previous mark of 17 from Sept. 13, 2014.

“I wouldn’t say I knew the exact number,” Sale said. “But I knew they were getting up there. It’s fun. The crowd gets into it. People in the K Zone are going crazy for me. It’s a fun, fun time. You have balls leaving the park, guys hitting homers. It’s a fun atmosphere to play in.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Quintana-Schwarber showdown turned tide in White Sox loss]

Abreu relishes the opportunity to play behind Sale. When Sale is as outstanding as he was against the Cubs, Abreu said the offense wants in the worst way to get him a victory. Abreu’s opposite-field drive in the third got that campaign started with Ramirez contributing in the fourth and Cabrera in the fifth.

The three-homer showing helped Sale to his 11th victory and netted Abreu a nice keepsake for his son.

“When Sale is on the mound he motivates you to do your best, and you’re not thinking about the other team, you’re thinking about your team and your teammates and that’s the only thing you have to take care,” Abreu said. “He’s so dominant.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.