White Sox

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

The White Sox found yet another way to survive on Monday night.

All it took was a third straight walkoff hit, something they hadn’t done in more than 50 years.

Tyler Saladino helped his team shake off a second straight blown save when he singled in the winning run with one out in the ninth to send the White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,510 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox, who had two game-winning hits in the ninth inning on Sunday, now have three in a row for the first time since Aug. 4-6, 1962. It also was the team’s fifth walkoff of the season as they improved to 49-50.

“It's a morale booster for sure, and its just good baseball,” Saladino said. “The guys are pumped.”

They should be.

Somehow a patchwork bullpen without two key arms kept the White Sox in position for Saladino’s heroics despite blowing a lead for a fourth straight day. J.B. Shuck started the ninth-inning rally with a single to right off Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery. Dioner Navarro’s sac bunt advanced Shuck into scoring position before Saladino fouled off an 0-2 pitch and singled up the middle. Cubs center fielder Matt Szczur couldn’t handle the ball and Shuck scored to set off a third straight wild celebration on the field.

“We’ve been all over the place,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These guys are resilient. They fight back. They come every day to play hard. You need some stuff to go your way and I think tonight is one of those.”

[MORE: Cheering section of one: Melky adds 3 highlights to reel]

The White Sox could use a truckload more given what they’ve experienced since the second half began 11 days ago. Not only were they slowed by a horrible West Coast road trip full of close, painful losses, the White Sox have dealt with a number of unforeseen elements over the previous four days.

They battled the heat, rain delays, suspended games and a suspended teammate, which has the bullpen as taxed as it has been all season. Not only have they played eight games decided by two runs or fewer, the White Sox bullpen had to cover all nine innings vacated by Chris Sale on Saturday/Sunday when he was scratched from his start.

Both Nate Jones and David Robertson were unavailable on Monday to help the White Sox nurse a two-run lead. Jones had pitched five times in six days and Robertson pitched three times in a span of 18 hours.

Even though he’d already made 12 pitches and pitched three of the previous four games, Matt Albers returned to the mound in the ninth to preserve a two-run lead. The Cubs took advantage as Javy Baez, who earlier homered, doubled, stole third and scored on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single. Fowler went to third as Kris Bryant singled and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double by Melky Cabrera, who made three big plays in the outfield. Anthony Rizzo singled past a drawn-in infield off Dan Jennings to tie the score. Jennings yielded another single but struck out Jason Heyward to strand the winning run at second.

Prior to the ninth, the White Sox had managed well enough.

Aided by his defense early, Miguel Gonzalez managed to pitch out of several jams throughout the night to keep the Cubs wrapped up.

Cabrera made a spectacular catch to rob Bryant of a homer in the first inning and he and Saladino combined to throw out Baez at home plate to end the third.

[MORE: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

But Gonzalez did much of the rest on his own, including twice retiring Addison Russell with men in scoring position. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks and struck out eight, which matched his season high.

The White Sox offense also struck first against Jake Arrieta. Saladino provided the team its first hit with a one-out double to left in the third inning and Adam Eaton singled him in to make it 1-0. They added three more in the sixth on Todd Frazier’s three-run homer, the 29th pitch of the inning by Cubs starter Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta -- who allowed four earned runs in six innings -- threw 37 pitches in the sixth and exited the game. The four runs proved just enough to hold off the charging Cubs until Saladino joined Eaton and Cabrera, whose game-winning hits started celebrations on Sunday.

“With the way we’ve been going, we’ll take any win we can get,” Frazier said. “Eventually, ride that horse and keep on rolling and start winning games without walk-offs. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re getting back in that fun zone again.”

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.

The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:

— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.

— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.

— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).

— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.

— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)

— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).

Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?


If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

We heard a lot about "learning experiences" during the White Sox 100-loss 2018 season.

It was Rick Renteria's way of describing the to-be-anticipated growing pains for highly touted players spending their first full seasons in the major leagues. Fan expectations were high for the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Yoan Moncada, and by very few measures did those players — some of the first of the organization's bevy of prospects to reach the South Side — live up to those expectations.

But that doesn't mean that those players' seasons were devoid of value. Renteria, the White Sox and the players all expect these "learning experiences" to have long-term benefits. In other words, it's the struggles now that will help these players succeed and create the planned perennial contender on the South Side.

So if those "learning experiences" were so valuable, what did these guys learn?

Giolito finished his first full season in the bigs with a 6.13 ERA, leading baseball in earned runs allowed and leading the American League in walks. What did he take from what looked from the outside like a disappointing season?

"I think I learned the most from my worst starts this year, the ones where I didn’t make it out of the first, didn’t make it out of the second," Giolito said before the end of the White Sox season last month. "Just going out there not having the right mindset from the get go and allowing the game to speed up on me really quickly, there’s maybe two, three, four games where that happened. And obviously I came out of those games upset and frustrated, but now looking back on them from this perspective at the end of the season, I really learned the most from those.

"Entering every single start, I get roughly 32 of them a year, make sure that I’m prepared, I’m ready to pitch, my routine is set and I’m following it to a ‘T.’ And over the second half of the season, I started to put up better numbers, put up more competitive starts just through that process of earlier in the year grinding and grinding and not doing well. I learned a lot about myself in that process as a pitcher and as a competitor."

Certain numbers don't exactly show a drastic improvement from one half of the season to the other: Giolito's ERA prior to the All-Star break (6.18) and after it (6.04) were pretty much the same. He had a much improved August (3.86 ERA in six starts) and a rough September (9.27 ERA in five starts).

But again, the 2018 season wasn't about what the numbers look like now. It was about what those numbers will look like a year or two or three from now, when the White Sox make their transition from rebuilding to contending.

"You go out there and you don’t get the job done, you’re knocked out of the game early, looking back on it, it’s like, ‘Now I know what doesn’t work.’ And I’m able to make those adjustments and the changes to the routine and the changes to mindset and things to be able to go out there," Giolito said. "I’m not going to have my best stuff every day. Some days I might not feel right and might be battling myself a little bit. But it’s being able to make that quick adjustment, not letting the game speed up. That’s the biggest thing.

"At this level, you go out there and you’re not feeling right in the first inning, it might be three runs, four runs on the board before you even know it. And I think getting that experience, getting to pitch every fifth day for an entire season and having a ton of downs and starting to figure it out more toward the end, it’s gaining that experience and learning what works and learning what doesn’t."

Throughout the season, Renteria complimented Giolito for the pitcher's ability to move on from rough beginnings to starts and turn in a five- or six-outing despite the early trouble. Giolito did a good deal of that throughout the season, with longevity during starts rarely being an issue, even if the run totals were high. Only six of his 32 starts in 2018 were shorter than five innings, and the percentage of his starts that lasted six and seven innings increased from the first half of the season to the second.

And then there are the walks, and there was a significant decrease in the amount of guys Giolito was putting on base between the first and second halves of the season. He walked 60 batters in 103.1 innings in the first half for a BB/9 of 5.2, compared to 30 batters in 70 innings in the second half for a BB/9 of 3.9.

So there were positives for Giolito to take from his 2018 campaign.

"The second half of the season, bouncing back from what I was doing. Cutting down on the walks, starting to pitch better, pitch more consistently. Even games when I wasn’t sharp, I was getting hit around, not doing so well, I did a better job of at least giving the team a chance, getting a little bit deeper into the game," he said. "So I’d say those are some of the highlights, learning from the mistakes and learning from the failures and within the season being able to make the right adjustments to be more successful."

On Opening Day, Giolito talked about how different a pitcher he was more than a year after joining the White Sox organization. One full season in the big leagues, and Giolito is again a different pitcher. It's that continuing evolution that the White Sox hope will make him a mainstay in their rotation of the future.

"More experience, more mature. I’m no longer really fazed by the big situation. If I get into trouble in the first inning, I’m not worrying about it or thinking about it or how I screwed up the last at-bat, last pitch, I walked a guy, gave up a double, whatever it might be. Now, what’s in the past is in the past, even when I’m out there," he said. "If I mess up a couple pitches, I know the adjustment to make and I’m going to do my best to make that adjustment without it taking a couple innings or even never making the adjustment the entire start, which is what was happening through April, May, June.

"Just getting that experience and learning to make those adjustments on the fly. I’d say that’s what I’m really taking away from this year."