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.

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

It appears Eloy Jimenez is heating up.

The White Sox rookie outfielder didn’t get off to a great start this season, but he showed flashes of his potential. Then, he went down with injury and missed more than three weeks.

After going 0-for-7 in his first two games back from injury, Jimenez broke out with two home runs on Wednesday. He followed that up with another bomb on Thursday in a 4-0 win in Houston.


The fact that Jimenez stringing home runs together wasn't the big story of the game is a testament to Lucas Giolito's impressive outing on the mound.

Jimenez now has as many home runs in the four games since coming back from injury (3) as he had in his first 21 games before going down. That’s far too small of a sample size to say the time off did anything productive for Jimenez, but the 22-year-old is showing the power he was known for in the minors.

Overall, Jimenez is hitting .234/.280/.447. The average and on-base percentage are lower than expected considering he was a career .311 hitter in the minors. However, eight of his 22 hits in the majors have gone for extra bases, with six of those being home runs.

Thursday’s home run went 414 feet after he blasted shots of 419 and 417 feet the night before.

He also had some fun with the camera in the dugout and then had some fun in the field by celebrating a diving catch with a laugh.


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