White Sox

White Sox swept in Detroit on Justin Upton's walk-off homer

White Sox swept in Detroit on Justin Upton's walk-off homer

DETROIT (AP) — Justin Upton got another chance, and he made the most of it.

Upton hit a game-ending, three-run homer, and the Detroit Tigers overcame Justin Verlander's groin injury to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Sunday for a sweep of their weekend series.

"I had just missed one a couple pitches before - I wanted it back, but you don't get them back," Upton said. "I kept battling and I got another pitch. I didn't watch it, but I knew I got it good."

Nicholas Castellanos was hit by a pitch from David Robertson (3-2) leading off the Detroit ninth. Second baseman Yolmer Sanchez then misplayed a potential double-play ball and was only able to get Miguel Cabrera at first.

J.D. Martinez, who is hitting .292 with a .792 slugging percentage, was intentionally walked to get to Upton. The slugger fell behind 0-2, took a cutter for ball one, and then hit a curveball over the wall in left for his 11th homer.

"It was a terrible breaking ball that hung in the middle of the zone," Robertson said. "I'm sure it landed 10 rows back, but I wasn't looking. It sounded loud."

The White Sox have dropped five in a row. They were outscored 32-10 in the series.

"We can't keep doing this," Robertson said.

Martinez also connected for the Tigers, who have won four straight and five of six to move back to .500 at 28-28. Justin Wilson (3-1) picked up the win with a scoreless inning.

"We knew if Justin could get through the top of the inning, we had a good chance with 2-3-4 coming up in the ninth," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I'm sure that was a fun day of baseball for our fans."

Todd Frazier led off the third with his eighth homer, lifting the White Sox to a 2-0 lead. Sanchez then walked on four pitches before Verlander departed with right groin tightness.

Verlander also was visited by a trainer in the second, but he stayed in and struck out Avisail Garcia with the bases loaded to end the inning. The Tigers said he was removed for precautionary reasons.

"He had an MRI just to make sure things are OK, but as things stand, we expect he'll make his next start," Ausmus said.

Martinez hit a solo shot in the fourth for his 10th homer, and the Tigers added three more in the sixth.

John Hicks tied the game with an RBI double, and then stole third as Frazier charged a fake bunt attempt. Hicks scored when Alex Presley's grounder went off Sanchez's glove for an error, and Jose Iglesias made it 4-2 when he drove in Andrew Romine with a fielder's choice.

"When Pres fouled the first bunt off, I saw they weren't running the wheel, so third base was open," Hicks said. "Once I saw the pitch was down, I just took off."

Warwick Saupold pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Verlander, but Alex Wilson blew the advantage in the eighth.

Tim Anderson and Kevan Smith hit consecutive RBI doubles, tying it at 4. Leury Garcia singled off Daniel Stumpf to put runners on the corners with one out, but Shane Greene retired the next two batters.

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TRAINER'S ROOM

White Sox: RHP James Shields (lat strain) started his rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Charlotte, allowing three runs in four innings.

Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler (hamstring) is expected to return from the disabled list on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Ausmus said the team will announce the corresponding move at that point.

ROOKIE MISTAKE

White Sox rookie Adam Engel came up with runners on the corners and one out in the eighth. Manager Rick Renteria called for a safety squeeze, but Engel missed two attempts at pitches outside the zone, and then struck out on the next pitch.

"That's tough for him right now because we lost the game, but it will be a great learning experience for him," Renteria said. "We discussed the play and how he needed to wait for a better pitch in that situation."

AUSTRALIAN LONG MAN

Ausmus thought the game's unsung star was Saupold, who stepped up after Verlander's injury.

"That's the second time in a row that he's come up huge for us," Ausmus said. "Both in Kansas City and here, he's given us multiple innings to get us deep into a game."

UP NEXT

White Sox: After an off day on Monday, Chicago continues a three-city road trip with three games in Tampa Bay. Jose Quintana (2-7, 5.60 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday's series opener.

Tigers: Following an off day, the Tigers begin a three-game set against the visiting Angels on Tuesday. Daniel Norris (2-3, 4.47 ERA) will pitch the first game of the series for Detroit.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.