Reynaldo Lopez’s defense didn’t do him any favors on Wednesday night, but he managed the situation as best as possible.
The White Sox rookie starting pitcher limited the red-hot Cleveland Indians to a run despite four misplays behind him in six innings. Lopez earned his team’s lone atta boy of the night from manager Rick Renteria for his ability to overcome lousy White Sox play in a 5-1 loss to the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field. Even though he had to pitch with additional traffic courtesy of a poor defense and it ran up his pitch count, Lopez somehow managed to keep the White Sox within striking distance.
“Even though the numbers were still good he did better than that,” Renteria said. “We should have caught the ball on more plays. It would have allowed us possibly for him to get a little deeper, but he had to make more pitches because of those miscues. We talked to our guys about that. The physical errors don’t bother you as much what precipitated them. Is it lack of focus? What is it? We had to deal with those truths also. We dealt with those today. It will be a great lesson to get better. Those kids want to do very, very well. We say it every day. They’re not looking to fail, but today as far as (Lopez) is concerned, for what he did his numbers could have been better.”
Lopez rarely got any breaks in his fourth start of the season.
With one on and one out in the first, Matt Davidson misplayed a slow roller that went right through his legs into a two-base error. But as he would many times on Wednesday, Lopez sharpened his focus and escaped the inning with a pair of pop outs.
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An inning later, Tyler Saladino couldn’t cleanly field a grounder up the middle -- it would have gone for an inning-ending double play -- and Tyler Naquin turned it into a double. Lopez didn’t let it bother him as he struck out Roberto Perez with a changeup and induced a foul out off Francisco Lindor’s bat.
However, Lopez didn’t escape unharmed. Carlos Santana singled off the glove of Nicky Delmonico to start the fourth inning and Alen Hanson couldn’t find the handle on Yandy Diaz’s grounder, which also went for a single instead of a double play. Lopez issued a walk to load the bases and Naquin followed with a sac fly for the only run the pitcher allowed. But Lopez struck out Perez again and retired Lindor to limit the damage.
In spite of a high pitch count, Lopez collected himself and pitched two quick innings to get the White Sox through six. Lopez held Cleveland to a run and six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in a 102-pitch effort.
“I just say they are going to have good days and bad days and they are going to make some mistakes once in a while,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “I believe in them because I know they are trying to do their best, not just to help me but for the team and themselves.
“How did I keep my focus? Just working on executing my plan. That’s the way I did it.”