White Sox

White Sox history nuggets: Impressive performances against Hall of Fame pitchers

White Sox history nuggets: Impressive performances against Hall of Fame pitchers

Throughout their history, the White Sox have had some impressive performances against the game’s greatest pitchers. Specifically, against the pitchers with the two highest strikeout totals in MLB history. Monday happens to be the anniversary of one of those games.

Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson combined for 10,589 career punchouts, and they also combined for four games with four or more home runs allowed. Three times the Big Unit coughed up four home runs in a game: June 20, 1999 against the Braves, Sept, 1, 2008 against the Cardinals and Aug. 21, 2005 at US Cellular Field against the White Sox.

Meanwhile, the Ryan Express served up four long balls in a game only once: 31 years ago Monday at Arlington Stadium against the White Sox. The Rangers jumped all over starter Eric King for a five-run first, which the White Sox could not overcome (they lost 11-7). However, the Sox clobbered Nolan Ryan for four home runs, which is a small victory in itself. Iván Calderon hit a solo shot in the second inning, Harold Baines and Ron Kittle went back-to-back in the fourth and Baines added a second solo shot in the eighth.

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Baines was one of only eight players ever to homer twice off Ryan in a game. Of course, a month and a half later Baines became Ryan's teammate after a trade to the Rangers.

Fast-forward to Aug. 21, 2005, when Randy Johnson of the Yankees visited Chicago and allowed four home runs – all in the same inning. After Pablo Ozuna grounded out to lead off the fourth, Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand and Paul Konerko went back-to-back-to-back off the future Hall of Famer.

Then, after two more singles by Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe, Chris Widger connected for a three-run blast – the fourth homer of the inning. It was the only time Johnson ever allowed three homers in an inning, let alone four, and therefore the only time he allowed three in a row. It was one moment among many in that unforgettable 2005 run.

Sitting in the White Sox dugout that Sunday afternoon in August 2005 was Baines – the White Sox bench coach. He was there for both of these amazing performances against legendary pitchers.

It’s fun to point out that the White Sox were the only team with a four-homer performance against each of these two supreme strikeout artists.

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Luis Robert is the current AL MVP, one White Sox teammate says

Luis Robert is the current AL MVP, one White Sox teammate says

White Sox relief pitcher Evan Marshall was just running down the list of his hot-hitting teammates Wednesday. He praised Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez.

But when he got to Luis Robert, he really had something to say.

"Luis Robert is probably the MVP in the AL right now," Marshall said.

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Robert's major league career is just 11 games old. And he's already an MVP candidate?

Certainly that's the kind of hype the five-tool threat brought into the shortened 2020 season. After he wowed minor league crowds last year, he was expected to be among the popular preseason picks to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He was the talk of "Summer Camp," with his teammates and coaches talking him up as a future superstar.

In his brief taste of big league action, Robert's already showing that hoping to be the Rookie of the Year might have been shooting a little low.

Through 11 games, Robert is hitting .364/.429/.568 with two home runs, three doubles, six RBIs, eight runs scored and an AL-leading four stolen bases.

The number that's really got people talking in certain circles is WAR. For the uninitiated, Wins Above Replacement puts a whole bunch of important baseball stuff in a blender — defense included — to quantify just how valuable players are compared to an average replacement player. Well, Robert leads the American League in that metric, according to the folks at Fangraphs. He's been worth 1.0 WAR through 11 games, better than every player in baseball besides San Francisco Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who has been worth 1.1 WAR. Over at Baseball-Reference (the stat varies depending on who's calculating it), Robert ranks sixth in baseball and third among American League position players, worth 0.9 WAR.

In other words, Marshall's claim isn't quite the biased teammate praise it might seem at first blush. Robert is having as good a season as anyone, albeit in a small sample size.

RELATED: White Sox sending Nick Madrigal to IL, but team's injuries might not last long

While other young stars in the making have taken their time to adjust to the major leagues upon their arrival on the White Sox big league roster, Robert seems to be bypassing that step.

"I mean, he just turned 23 on Monday. He’s a hell of a lot more mature than I was at 23," general manager Rick Hahn said of Robert on Wednesday. "It’s just been really fun to watch just how seamlessly he seemingly made this transition. And not just the transition to big leaguer, but even at-bat to at-bat in terms of adjustments that he makes almost on the fly and instinctually, it’s really impressive.

"Anyone can see the athleticism. Anyone can see the tools. ... Until you are around him and you understand the work ethic and the focus and the ability to block out the hype or the expectations, it’s hard to really appreciate the makeup and the character. We are all seeing it first hand.

"Whether it’s the money or the prospect rankings or whatever, people are very excited to see this player this year. And he’s just made it seem like he’s been able to block all that out and focus on his performance and make adjustments against major league pitching on the fly. It has been fun to watch."

If Robert can keep this up, maybe it will really fun for the White Sox to see the 23-year-old rookie be the franchise's first AL MVP since Frank Thomas in 1994.


White Sox sending Nick Madrigal to IL, but team's injuries might not last long

White Sox sending Nick Madrigal to IL, but team's injuries might not last long

Nick Madrigal is going on the injured list.

But that being as bad as the news gets would generate a sigh of relief from the White Sox and their fans.

The rookie second baseman separated his shoulder when he slid into third base during the third inning of Tuesday's game in Milwaukee. Madrigal tried to go from first to third on a sharply hit Luis Robert single but was thrown out by former White Sox outfielder Avisaíl García. No one much cared about the outcome of the play, though, when Madrigal popped up clutching his left arm in pain and the replay showed him slamming his arm into the ground on the slide.

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But the news from general manager Rick Hahn was relatively positive Wednesday. Madrigal will go on the injured list ahead of Thursday's roster-reduction deadline. The White Sox were required to trim their 30-man group to 28 anyway, and Madrigal will be one of the players removed from the active roster when he goes on the injured list.

Those fearing a repeat of 2018, when Madrigal fractured his wrist sliding into home plate in a college game, seem to be in the clear to breathe easier. Hahn said Madrigal could be back in the White Sox lineup before the calendar turns to September.

"We are optimistic that with some treatment and rehab Nick will be able to return to action for us at some point before the end of this month," Hahn said Wednesday. "However, there is the potential at some point, perhaps in the offseason, that he's going to need a procedure to stabilize the shoulder long term. That's a preliminary estimate.

"Right now he is headed to the 10-day (injured list), but again, we are optimistic he'll be able to rejoin us on the field, active, by the end of this month."

Madrigal's status was of great interest, and it should have been considering he was hurt in just fifth big league game. Watching him exit with a grimace on his face brought back memories of Michael Kopech, who required Tommy John surgery after just his fourth major league start in 2018. He hasn't pitched since and won't until 2021 after electing not to play this season due to personal reasons. Losing another big piece of the White Sox long-term puzzle to a long-term injury would have been a tough blow. Instead, Madrigal could be back relatively soon.

But Madrigal was not the only injured player Hahn needed to discuss Wednesday, nor was he the only injured player from Tuesday night's game. Fortunately for the White Sox, the news on their slew of injuries was all relatively promising. It's true that every game means a lot in this shortened season and being without key cogs for any length of time has the potential to swing the entire season in one direction or the other. But "a couple of weeks" is a heck of a lot better than "a couple of months." And for a team focused on the long-term future as much as the 2020 season, keeping the young team healthy for future runs at a championship is even more important than keeping the current winning streak intact.

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On to the rest of the updates.

— Edwin Encarnación will not go on the injured list after he left Tuesday's game early with shoulder soreness suffered while swinging the bat. Hahn reported that Encarnación is suffering from SC joint inflammation and that the designated hitter is day to day.

— Carlos Rodón, who made an early exit from Monday's game, departing after two innings of work with shoulder soreness, is hoped to be able to rejoin the team in a couple of weeks, per Hahn. The preliminary scans on his left shoulder were clean, and he remains on the injured list, where he was placed Tuesday, with shoulder inflammation.

— Tim Anderson, who went on the IL on Saturday after suffering a groin strain in Kansas City, will report to the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg on Thursday, where he will have a rehab assignment of sorts. Hahn said the team is optimistic Anderson will be back with the big league club at some point next week when his mandated 10-day stay on the injured list is through.

— Reynaldo López has already been on the injured list for more than a week, sent there after he recorded just two outs in his first start of the season and had to leave that game with shoulder soreness. His rehab, according to Hahn, has been delayed after he dealt with a non-COVID stomach illness that cost him a couple of days of rehab. But he's in Schaumburg, too, on a throwing program, and Hahn said López could be back with the team "at some point in the next few weeks."

Again, that's all relatively good news. Considering how hard the White Sox have been bitten by the injury bug in the early going — though a sixth of the way over, the season is just 11 games old — that all those major pieces of the puzzle escaped injuries that would keep them on the shelf for significantly longer is a better case scenario than certain alternatives, especially as teams around the league seem to be announcing season-ending injuries left and right.

As mentioned, things are different this season. Being on the injured list for the typical 10-day period is the equivalent to missing a month's worth of games in a normal season. But considering what the White Sox have shown so far — that their offense is extraordinarily capable, even at less than full strength, and their bullpen is possibly lights-out and their starting rotation has a couple dependable chuckers — they would seem able to keep experiencing many of the good things they have during this six-game win streak and stay in playoff position while guys heal up.

And if that's where they are come the end of August, when Anderson, Rodón, López and Madrigal could all be back in action, then the White Sox could finally have the roster they thought they'd have this season, making the final month of this dash to October quite interesting.