White Sox

White Sox routed again as April comes to a close


White Sox routed again as April comes to a close

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Flowers suspects it won’t be long before the White Sox get a stern talking to from manager Robin Ventura.

That wouldn’t come as a surprise given the ugly end to April for the White Sox.

A day after they were routed anonymously in Baltimore, the White Sox were humiliated 12-2 in a very public clunker to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night at Target Field. Chris Sale was off, the defense behind him may have been worse and the offense missed out on an abundance of opportunities. Sale established career marks for most runs allowed (nine) and fewest innings in a start (three) as the White Sox finished April at 8-11.

“I imagine one’s coming soon,” Flowers said. “They’re not consistent ones, but when situations or games dictate needing one he’s definitely not afraid to let us know what he thinks.”

Ventura could provide a team that added $137 million worth of free agents this offseason with a long list of grievances after Thursday’s clunker.

Sale showed signs he wasn’t himself early when he gave up a first-inning run. A poor defense surfaced in the second inning to allow another to score.

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The two combined for an epic breakdown in the third inning as the Twins turned a tied game into a rout with seven earned runs off Sale.

“You don’t expect the number seven to come up with Chris pitching,” Ventura said. “There was a lot of different things going on. We just have to be sharper.”

Sharp hasn’t been a word used often this month to describe the White Sox.

They showed signs of the team Ventura believes is postseason-worthy last weekend against the Kansas City Royals.

But the White Sox have struggled to play clean often in their first 19 games and none more so than the third.

Joe Mauer doubled just off Eaton’s glove to start the inning and Sale walked Trevor Plouffe. Kurt Suzuki then singled with two strikes to make it 3-2 and Plouffe moved to third on a Flowers passed ball.

Eduardo Escobar then singled past a drawn-in infield and even though both runners would score easily, Eaton wildly threw to the backstop. Without Sale there to back it up, Eaton’s throw ricocheted toward first base, which allowed Escobar to reach third.

Shane Robinson then singled past another drawn-in infield to make it 6-2. Danny Santana’s single then set up a three-run homer by Brian Dozier.

The Twins also scored three times in the eighth inning against Minnesota-native Jake Petricka.

“I just stunk really,” Sale said. “Don’t judge my teammates on what I put them in. I was bad. I gave up nine hits. There’s no defending that. I walked a couple of guys. If there’s anything, it’s me being pretty darn bad out there.”

Sale’s outing -- he gave up nine hits and eight earned runs -- was reminiscent of Jeff Samardzija’s effort on Wednesday. Samardzija allowed eight earned runs, including six in the first inning, as the Baltimore Orioles routed the White Sox 8-2 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever game closed to the public.

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The White Sox probably wish nobody could have seen this one, either.

Alexei Ramirez’s two-out error on Santana’s grounder in the second inning gave the Twins, already ahead 1-0, life. Santana started running on Dozier’s blooper to center and Eaton didn’t fire the ball in immediately and Jose Abreu cut it off, allowing the runner to score from first to make it 2-0.

“When you can make plays behind (Sale) it’s going to help him out and I didn’t do that today as an individual at some key points,” Eaton said. “That doesn’t fly in the big leagues. You’ve got to make those plays and get them done.”

“You’ve got to make sure to get throws down and get throws in and catch the ball.”

The White Sox offense also added to the misery as it failed to cash in against Twins starter Trevor May. Cabrera and Abreu tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning with consecutive RBI singles. But Adam LaRoche flew out to left and Avisail Garcia struck out. The White Sox, who finished with 11 hits, also left the bases loaded in the sixth inning, stranding 10 men.

“It just has to be better,” Ventura said. “We have to clean it up. Both sides of the ball have to be good. Offensively, we saw a better thing today, but defensively we weren’t really there.”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint


Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.