White Sox

Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

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Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

Alfonso Soriano hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning and the Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis 3-2 on Wednesday night, ending the Cardinals' run of 13 consecutive winning series.Tony Campana sparked the winning rally with a one-out single off Fernando Salas (0-1). Campana then stole second in a close call that led to the first ejection for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.After Starlin Castro struck out, Bryan LaHair was walked intentionally before Soriano hit a full-count pitch off second baseman Tyler Greene and into the outfield. Campana scored easily to give the Cubs their second consecutive dramatic victory against the CardinalsJames Russell (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to get the win.Chicago led 1-0 before Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer off Carlos Marmol with two out in the eighth inning. LaHair then tied it with a leadoff drive off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth.The Cubs also beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Monday night on Joe Mather's game-ending, two-run single. They will go for the three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon.St. Louis won its last seven series in the regular season last year, then stormed through the playoffs to the World Series title. It opened this season with six more series wins before running into the slumping Cubs, who had dropped seven of eight before the Cards came to town.It was St. Louis' first series loss since it dropped two of three against Cincinnati from Sept. 2-4. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2002 Braves were the last team to put together a 13-series streak.

The Cardinals had just four hits before Holliday drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center for his fourth homer. Rafael Furcal set up the go-ahead drive with a one-out walk against Rafael Dolis, who retired Skip Schumaker before first-year manager Dale Sveum went to his closer with Holliday coming to the plate.Carlos Beltran then walked and move to third on Marmol's errant pickoff attempt before David Freese flied out to end the inning. The erratic closer was jeered by the Wrigley Field crowd of 38,894 as he made his way to the dugout.Chicago nearly wasted a terrific outing by Jeff Samardzija, who struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander yielded just four hits and two walks in his second start against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in 11 days.Samardzija pitched five shaky innings at St. Louis on April 13, but the Cubs roughed up Wainwright in a 9-5 victory.This one was much different.Wainwright allowed one run and six hits over six innings in his best start since he had elbow-ligament replacement surgery last February, sidelining him for the 2011 season. The 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out seven and walked one, but remained winless in four starts this year.Chicago grabbed the lead in the first. David DeJesus drove a leadoff double into the right-field corner and advanced on Tony Campana's sacrifice. Starlin Castro then lofted a fly ball to right, leading to a disputed call at home.Beltran settled under Castro's ball and made a strong throw to the first-base side, forcing Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina to dive across the plate with his glove. Molina was right there as DeJesus stuck his left arm out while sliding past home on the dugout side, drawing a safe call from umpire Chris Conroy.DeJesus clapped his hands and scurried back to the dugout as Molina popped up and began arguing with Conroy. Matheny popped out of the dugout and got between Molina and Conroy before continuing the argument with the umpire. Looking at the TV replays, it was unclear whether DeJesus ever touched home, but Matheny eventually left the field after a short argument.It was a busy night for Molina, who had two hits, made a rare throwing error and picked DeJesus off second after a leadoff double in the fifth.The Cubs had a chance to add to their lead in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Wainwright wiggled out of the jam, showing the moxie that made him one of baseball's best pitchers before the elbow injury.Ian Stewart and Darwin Barney struck out swinging, the latter on three pitches, before Wainwright issued an intentional walk to Geovany Soto. Samardzija then popped out to end the inning.NOTES
The Cubs outrighted RHP Rodrigo Lopez to Triple-A Iowa. Lopez was designated for assignment when RHP Michael Bowden was added to the 25-man roster on Monday. ... Bowden made his Cubs debut in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning.
Box score Complete recapCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

A Jose Abreu awakening could make an already productive White Sox offense even more fearsome

Hitting has not been the biggest problem for the White Sox. But even after a win to kick off this week's series against the Baltimore Orioles, they're still under .500 and in fourth place in the aggressively weak AL Central.

There's a ton of baseball left, and their spot in the standings on April 22 indicates nothing about where they'll be at the end of September. But the issues that have cropped up in the early going — many of them having to do with what's gone on on the pitcher's mound — have signaled that another losing season in the thick of the ongoing rebuilding process wouldn't come as a great shock.

That point being established, there's still been more to smile about in the early going this season than there was perhaps in the entirety of the 2018 campaign, what Rick Hahn described from the beginning as "the toughest part of the rebuild." That turned out to be prescient, with the White Sox losing 100 games. This year, the early season emergence of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and, to a lesser extent, Eloy Jimenez have made it so there are exciting reasons to pay attention to what's going on on the South Side, all the while making for a lineup that can push across a good deal of runs.

Now imagine if Jose Abreu wasn't hitting below the Mendoza Line.

He's not anymore after a big night Monday, but the guy who's arguably still the team's best hitter when everything's right hasn't been right very often so far in 2019. That could be starting to change, though, and if it does, a lineup that's already a heck of a lot more threatening to opposing pitchers than it was at any point in 2018 could become even more fearsome, even more productive. And that leads to more wins, important not just for fans hoping for a surprise run at relevancy given the weak state of the division, but for a team building a lineup for the future that it hopes is scoring a whole bunch of runs in meaningful games in seasons to come.

Abreu went 3-for-5 in Monday night's 12-2 laugher in Baltimore, the White Sox bats looking even better with an opportunity to feast on Orioles pitching, which entered as the worst staff in the majors with a 6.21 ERA and owned a 6.37 ERA after Monday's blowout. But it's a three-game hitting streak for a guy whose average was down to .174 after Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. Since, he's 6-for-15 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Maybe it's just a nice three-game stretch, boosted by a chance to swing against the big leagues' worst pitching staff. But it allows the White Sox to dream about a lineup made ever more dangerous by the regular production of a two-time All Star and one of the AL's reigning Silver Sluggers.

Again, offense has not been the main reason the White Sox are still underwater, from a win-loss perspective, at this point. They aren't exactly blowing the doors off the league when it comes to their offensive prowess, middle of the pack in baseball with 106 runs scored this season. But they entered Monday's game with a 5.44 team ERA, one of the four worst marks in the bigs. The bullpen's ERAs are still on their way down after short outings from the starting staff in the season's first couple of weeks forced them into unenviable situations. One run allowed in Monday's bullpen day should help with that. The team ERA shot down to 5.27 after Monday's game, still not enough to vault them out of the bottom six teams in the league.

But reliable versions of Anderson (who's still hitting over .400), Moncada and Jimenez are pieces this lineup didn't have last year, and they've been three of the best parts of it so far in 2019. Leury Garcia has been quietly productive if not flashy while doing it. James McCann, who hit a three-run homer to start the scoring in Monday night's rout, has put up good numbers in limited time while splitting catching duties with Welington Castillo. Even Ryan Cordell, only the team's starting right fielder for a few days, has shown promise with a couple homers already. There have been holes, of course, chiefly Yolmer Sanchez — who was still hitting under .100 on April 13 but is now batting .231 after a three-hit night Monday — and the sent-down Daniel Palka. Abreu and Yonder Alonso, in the middle of the White Sox order, have been unproductive, as well, while the younger guys have flourished around them.

But an Abreu turnaround — or, really, an awakening, considering how early it still is — would boost the numbers and make the lineup capable of even more on a regular basis.

It could also be another factor in the ongoing conversation about a potential Abreu contract extension. While Hahn has suggested it's unlikely that such a deal would be struck during the season, it wouldn't be surprising to see it come before Abreu is set to hit free agency once the 2019-20 offseason begins. The White Sox are such big fans of what Abreu does in the clubhouse and as a mentor for younger players that production might not play as big a role as it normally would. But obviously the consistency of that production in Abreu's first five big league seasons certainly helps. To keep that production going with a late-April awakening would be all the more reason to keep Abreu around for the transition from rebuilding to contending.

The White Sox lineup has been promising to this point. It could become downright potent if Abreu starts knocking the ball around as we all know he can.

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