Showing posts with label Chicago White Sox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago White Sox. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Injury updates: When will Carlos Rodon pitch for the White Sox again?

Carlos Rodon
Forget about the White Sox's 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night. Nothing to see there, nothing much to talk about, an inconsequential loss in a season that is expected to be full of them.

The most important news of the day was on the injury front, where left-hander Carlos Rodon met the media for the first time in a long time after throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game against minor leaguers Monday at Chase Field.

Relief pitchers Jake Petricka and Nate Jones also worked during the simulated game, but the big story is Rodon, whose recovery from left bicep bursitis has taken much longer than expected.

For Rodon, this was his fourth simulated game, and he says he considers himself to be on an every-fifth-day schedule at this point. Still, there's no timetable for his return, and general manager Rick Hahn used the phrase "in the coming weeks" when asked when Rodon might return to game action.

“He’s been out there now three or four times throwing to hitters,” Hahn told Sox beat reporters. “Each time has been a little more crisp from what I understand from the previous ones to today. Hopefully here in the coming weeks we are able to announce he’s starting a rehab assignment and we’ll have a better sense of his time frame at that point.”

Let me take an educated guess: Rodon might be back around the All-Star break. Say it's three more weeks until he heads out on a rehab assignment. Realistically, he'll probably need three or four starts in the minors before he's got enough strength and endurance to start in a big league game.

So, maybe we'll see him in July.

Why does this matter so much? For two reasons. One, the 24-year-old is seen as a cornerstone pitcher in the Sox's rebuilding plan. If he cannot get healthy and pitch effectively at some point this season, his status as a building block for the future would have to be called into question.

Secondly, his status affects the Sox's strategy at the trade deadline. With Rodon and James Shields both on the disabled list, the team's organizational pitching depth has been stretched thin. Retread veteran Mike Pelfrey and Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey don't belong in a major league rotation, but they are there because of the injuries, and because the Sox don't want to rush prized pitching prospects such as Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer into the starting rotation.

A healthy Rodon -- and a healthy Shields, for that matter -- makes it a little easier for Hahn to deal ace Jose Quintana for a package of prospects when July comes around.

If Rodon is not healthy for the second half of the season, and the Sox choose to deal Quintana, they might be faced with having to force-fit a prospect into the big league rotation before they really want to. That's a situation everyone would like to avoid, and it can be avoided if Rodon can take the ball 14 or 15 times before the 2017 season is over.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

White Sox recover to take three out of four from Seattle Mariners

Avisail Garcia
Now is the perfect time to have the Seattle Mariners come up on your schedule.

There isn't a team in the American League that has dealt with more key injuries than the Mariners. Seattle's best player, second baseman Robinson Cano (quadriceps), is on the disabled list. Eighty percent of the Mariners' starting rotation  -- Felix Hernandez (shoulder), Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder), James Paxton (forearm) and Drew Smyly (elbow) -- also is on the disabled list.

Teams don't like to make excuses, and they often say injuries are not an excuse. The reality is a little different: If your best dudes get hurt, chances are you're gonna lose. And the Mariners lost three of four to the White Sox this weekend.

The Sox (20-22) took the final three games of the series, the last two in blowout fashion. Here's our recap of the weekend that was:

Friday, May 19
White Sox 2, Mariners 1 (10 inn.): It's well-known that Sox ace Jose Quintana has suffered from a lack of run support for years, and the same has held true this season. But, Quintana hasn't been pitching up to his capabilities as of late, as his 4.38 ERA coming into this game would attest. So, he's hasn't been quite as sympathetic of a figure as he has been in the past.

That changed in this game. It was back to business as usual for Quintana. He was brilliant over eight innings, allowing one run on only one hit. He struck out seven and walked one -- and got a no-decision. Typical.

Fortunately, while Quintana did not get the win, the Sox did. Melky Cabrera's two-out, RBI double on an 0-2 slider from Seattle's Tony Zych (2-1) plated the winning run in the top of the 10th inning.

Sox closer David Robertson (3-1) retired all six men he faced over two innings to pick up the win, which snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sox.

Saturday, May 20
White Sox 16, Mariners 1: I doubt the Sox will have a more lopsided win than this one all year. They jumped on Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo (2-4) for four runs in the first inning, highlighted by Avisail Garcia's three-run homer on a first-pitch curve ball, and never let up from there.

The South Siders pounded out 19 hits, and while we've still got three-quarters of a season left to play, it's getting harder and harder to overlook Garcia's performance. He became the first Sox player to total 12 bases in a game since Dan Johnson hit three home runs in the same game on the final day of the 2012 season. Garcia homered in each of his first two plate appearances, then added two doubles for good measure, as he finished 4 for 5 with six RBIs.

Garcia leads the Sox with 34 RBIs, and he is tied for the team lead in homers with eight.

Not even Mike Pelfrey (1-4) could lose this game. The erstwhile veteran pitched six innings of one-run ball to earn his first victory in six starts this season. If you get 16 runs of support, hey, you better win. That's about a whole month's worth of runs for Quintana, you know?

Sunday, May 21
White Sox 8, Mariners 1: Seattle called up right-hander Chris Heston to make his first start of the season, and let's just say it didn't go well. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning, and that led to a five-run outburst for the Sox.

The BABIP gods were with the South Siders in this one, as they got a couple solid base hits in the inning -- a two-run single by Yolmer Sanchez and an RBI single by Matt Davidson -- and two really cheap RBI infield singles -- one by Tim Anderson and the other by Kevan Smith.

Heston didn't deserve any luck, of course, because walking the bases loaded in the first inning is not a recipe for success.

Left-hander Derek Holland (4-3) has been the Sox's most consistent starting pitcher this season, and  he capitalized on having a 5-0 lead before he threw a single pitch with another strong outing. He went eight innings, allowing only a solo home run to Nelson Cruz. The veteran pounded the strike zone, throwing 70 of his 105 pitches for strikes, which is precisely what a pitcher should be doing with a big lead. He fanned six, walked only two and lowered his season ERA to 2.47.

Sanchez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with the first-inning single. Anderson added a solo home run in the third, his fifth of the year, and a three-hit performance raised his batting average to .264.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Better to fight back and lose than to lay down and die, right?

Tim Anderson
The White Sox trailed the Seattle Mariners, 4-0, after six innings Thursday night.

Is it wrong that I didn't get excited when they fought back to tie it up? I just figured they'd get walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning anyway, and they did, as Guillermo Heredia singled home Jarrod Dyson with the winning run to give Seattle a 5-4 victory.

The Sox (17-22) are now 0-4 on their current 10-game road trip, but we can't say the failure is for lack of trying.

The South Siders' rally from the four-run deficit started with a two-run homer by Matt Davidson in the top of the seventh. Todd Frazier and Tim Anderson hit back-to-back solo homers in the top of the eighth to even the score at 4, and get starting pitcher Dylan Covey off the hook.

We'll give Covey some credit -- he allowed four runs, but he got through six innings. That's more than we can say for Mike Pelfrey in any of his starts. Covey still gets demolished in the fifth inning, however, and Thursday was no different. Jean Segura hit a three-run homer off him in the fifth inning of this game, and opponents are hitting .538 and slugging 1.038 against Covey in the fifth.

Yuck.

But he's not the loser in this one. That would be left-handed reliever Dan Jennings (2-1), who couldn't work around two singles in the ninth. Sox killer Dyson, of course, was involved. He reached first base after his sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in a forceout at second base.

After a long at-bat and numerous throws over to first base, Carlos Ruiz hit a grounder to Frazier, who tried to start a 5-4-3 double play, only to see Dyson beat his throw to second. The Sox made the turn to first base to retire Ruiz, but that left Dyson in scoring position with two outs.

That set the table for Heredia to deliver the game-winning hit, and send the Sox to their 10 loss in their past 12 games.

But, I guess we should give the Sox some credit. It would have been easy to give away at-bats and just lose 4-0. We've seen previous Sox teams do just that. There are no moral victories in pro sports, but at least this team tries to win, even though they aren't good.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's a feel-bad Thursday for White Sox fans

It's a feel-bad Thursday for White Sox fans, and here are the reasons why:
  • The Sox blew an early 4-0 lead and lost, 12-8, to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
  • The enjoyable 13-9 start to the season has been more than erased by an intolerable stretch of bad ball during which the Sox have gone 4-12.
  • The Sox have lost 14 of their last 15 games in Anaheim. The only blessing is they don't have any more games in that place this season.
  • Sox starting pitchers have not won a game since May 4, and have a 6.36 ERA during that 11-game stretch.
  • No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada is going on the 7-day DL because of a persistent sore thumb. That would explain why he was in a 2-for-14 slump in the three games leading up to the DL stint. 
  • Carson Fulmer's stretch of good pitching also ended Wednesday at Triple-A Charlotte. He got rocked for seven earned runs in 4.2 innings in a 9-2 loss to Durham.
BAH! I hate losing, so I'm going to go be pissed off now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Soft contact costs White Sox closer David Robertson in dumb loss to Angels

David Robertson
Maybe it would have been easier if the White Sox had just lost Tuesday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels in nine innings.

Instead, they rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 5 and force extra innings. Then, they took the lead in the top of the 11th inning on Tim Anderson's home run, only to lose, 7-6, on a series of dumb occurrences in the bottom half of the inning.

I can't blame Sox closer David Robertson (2-1), who pitched a clean 10th inning and still appeared to have good stuff when he came out for the 11th. But some bad luck and clownish outfield defense conspired to hand him the loss.

Robertson gave up a single to Andrelton Simmons to start the inning, and the runner advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Omar Narvaez. But Robertson was able to cut Simmons down at third base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Danny Espinosa.

That took the tying run out of scoring position and greatly increased Robertson's chances of closing out the game. However, it was just not meant to be.

Ben Revere followed with a bloop single over the head of second baseman Yolmer Sanchez. Somehow neither of the two Garcias in the outfield -- Leury or Avisail -- got anywhere near the ball, and Robertson was right back into trouble with runners on first and second and one out.

He continued to make decent-to-good pitches, however, and got Cameron Maybin to pop up into shallow left field.

OK, I thought it was a pop up into shallow left field, but it turned into a game-tying "double." The ball hung in the air forever, but apparently Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera "slipped" on a wet patch of grass (in Southern California?!) and shortstop Anderson couldn't quite range far enough out into left field the make the play.

What should have been an easy second out ended up tying the game at 6 and placed runners at second and third for the best player in baseball, Mike Trout. The Sox wisely put Trout on first base and took their chances with Albert Pujols.

A ground ball likely produces an inning-ending double play in that situation, but the veteran Pujols instead hit a fly ball that would have been plenty deep to score the winning run from third base regardless, but the ball clanked off the face of Sox center fielder Leury Garcia for a game-winning "single," adding injury to insult for anyone who bothered to stay up late and watch this mess.

The Sox (17-20) have now lost eight out of 10 and fell to 4-10 in May after a 13-10 April.

Have I mentioned that I'm not worried about the possibility of the Sox being "too good" to qualify as a rebuilding team?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

White Sox manager Rick Renteria admits he stuck with Mike Pelfrey too long in loss to Angels

Mike Pelfrey
White Sox starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey has made it through the fifth inning only once in his first five starts of the season. Once the opposition begins its third time through the batting order, Pelfrey falls apart.

Case in point, Monday's 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Pelfrey worked effectively through four innings, and the Sox (17-19) took a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning -- thanks to a two-run homer by Jose Abreu and an RBI triple by Tyler Saladino.

But in the fateful bottom of the fifth inning, Pelfrey walked both Cameron Maybin and Danny Espinosa. Then, he gave up a long fly-ball out to No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado.

It was decision time for Sox manager Rick Renteria. Two on, two out in the bottom of the fifth, Sox up by three, Pelfrey clearly tiring, but one out away from being eligible for a win. Left-hander Dan Jennings was ready in the bullpen, and the Angels were sending their left-handed hitting leadoff batter, Kole Calhoun, to the plate.

Calhoun also represented the start of the third time through the batting order, which has been poison for Pelfrey all season.

What's your move, Rick?

He stuck with Pelfrey, and Calhoun hit a three-run homer on a 1-0 sinker to tie the game. The next hitter was the best player in baseball, Mike Trout.

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak was ready in the bullpen. What's your move, Rick?

He stuck with Pelfrey, and Trout hit a 1-2 splitter out of the park to give the Angels the lead. That's your ballgame. After the Trout homer, Pelfrey (0-4) was removed from the game. Some might say he was removed two batters too late.

Interestingly, one of the people who believes that Pelfrey was left in too long was the man who made that decision: Renteria.

“I thought Pelf gave us a nice four-plus innings,” Renteria said in postgame remarks on CSNChicago.com. “Really, he gave us enough to do what we needed to do. I had those guys out there ready to pick him up, and I didn’t. I went against my better judgment. We had (Dan Jennings) ready for Calhoun, and we had our righty (Swarzak) ready. So that’s not any of their faults but mine. At least it would have given us a better chance. I couldn’t guarantee that the outcome would have been what we wanted, but I think the matchups would have been better, and pretty much that’s it.”

Isn't that refreshing? No excuses. No blaming of the players. No "tipping of the cap" to the other team. Just an acceptance of responsibility from a manager who realizes that he left a pitcher in too long. Robin Ventura routinely made mistakes such as this as a manager, never learned from them, and never changed his ways.

That said, I can defend Renteria's decision to stick with Pelfrey. Just last week, I criticized the Sox manager for overusing Jennings in middle relief. We're in the middle of May. There's still a long season ahead, and you want Jennings and Swarzak healthy coming out of the bullpen for the duration. You can't run them out there every day just because starting pitchers are not doing their jobs.

For long-term thinking, it wasn't unreasonable to try to squeeze one more out from Pelfrey in Monday's game. But, for purposes of trying to win Monday's game, sticking with him was the wrong move.

Oh, and with those home runs by Calhoun and Trout, opposing batters are now 9 for 12 with two home runs, two doubles and a triple when they face Pelfrey for a third time in a game.

Ugly, isn't it?

Sooner or later, a starting pitcher needs to work into the sixth or seventh inning, and if he cannot do that, then he needs to not be here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

White Sox win two of three games vs. Padres in clash of rebuilding teams

Todd Frazier
There are some White Sox fans out there who have their hearts set on losing as many games as possible this season, in hopes of getting the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB draft.

I hate to tell those folks this, but it's going to be real hard for the Sox or any other team to be worse than the San Diego Padres this year.

The Sox (17-18) took two out of three from the Padres (14-25) at Guaranteed Rate Field over the weekend, and I saw San Diego do some terrible things that I've never seen a major league team do in all the years that I've following the great sport of baseball.

Let's get to some thoughts on the weekend that was:

Friday, May 12
Padres 6, White Sox 3: Even a brutal team such as San Diego is going to win 55 to 60 games, and this was one of those games for the Padres.

They hit three home runs, including two off Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez, who continued his inevitable regression to the mean by allowing five earned runs in five innings. San Diego had a 3-0 lead by the third inning, and offense was scarce for the South Siders.

Five of the nine Sox starters took 0-fers, and the team wasted a multiple homer game by Leury Garcia, who had had three hits. Garcia's two homers accounted for all three Sox runs.

Saturday, May 13
White Sox 5, Padres 4: The Sox trailed, 2-1, going to the bottom of the fourth inning when Jose Abreu reached on an error by San Diego third baseman Ryan Schimpf. Abreu then advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill. Abreu then advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill. Abreu then scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill.

The Padres gave up a run on an E-5 and three wild pitches. I've seen such incompetence before in my days as a high school sports reporter, but I've never seen such buffoonery by a big league club.

The Sox ended up collecting their first walk-off win of the season. With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, San Diego reliever Brad Hand committed a cardinal sin by walking the Sox's No. 9 hitter, Tyler Saladino, to start the inning.

Garcia bunted Saladino into scoring position. Hand jumped ahead of the next hitter, Yolmer Sanchez, 0-2. But, Hand had fallen into a pattern of throwing his breaking ball every time he got into a two-strike count. He got a pair of strikeouts on the curve in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Sanchez appeared to be sitting on it in that situation.

The second baseman smacked one back up the middle for a single, and Saladino scored the winning run on a bang-bang play at the plate.

Sunday, May 14
White Sox 9, Padres 3: For seven innings, this was an aggravating game for Sox fans to watch. The offense was limited to only one run over six innings against the corpse of Jered Weaver, who has an ERA of 6.05 even after baffling Sox hitters throughout the afternoon.

Weaver hasn't won a game all season, and I had heard reports that he would be a candidate for release if he did not pitch well in Chicago. The Sox had a chance to perhaps literally end his career in the bottom of the first inning. Bases loaded, no outs. Alas, Weaver was out of the inning with only one run allowed two pitches later, after Avisail Garcia hit into a run-scoring double play and Todd Frazier grounded out.

No matter, San Diego imploded in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Padres had a 3-1 lead, but they walked five hitters, plunked a batter and committed two errors in that inning. The Sox sprinkled in four hits and parlayed all that into an eight-run outburst that gave them the 9-3 victory.

Melky Cabrera provided the big hit, a two-run single with the bases loaded that put the Sox ahead to stay at 4-3.

Moments later, the Sox had first and third with one out when Saladino popped up a bunt to first baseman Wil Myers. Frazier tagged and scored from third on a ball that traveled about 50 feet in the air to make it 5-3.

Yes, you read that right.

Myers had his back to the play after making the catch, and he casually flipped the ball back to pitcher Brandon Maurer. While the Padres were acting like a bunch of aloof idiots, Frazier tore down the third-base line to score a run. By the time Maurer realized what was happening, he made an errant toss to the plate that allowed Cabrera to advance to second.

The Sox tacked on with an RBI single by Willy Garcia, a two-run double by Leury Garcia and a RBI single by Sanchez.

I've never seen a team at any level give up a run on a pop-up bunt to first base before. Give the Padres credit; they seem hellbent on being the worst team in baseball.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The White Sox's alleged 'refusal' to make trades with the Cubs

Jon Garland -- drafted by the Cubs, won a title with the Sox
It's going to be a long summer for White Sox fans. Our team is not good. We've acknowledged it on this blog countless times. The losing has started, as the Sox have dropped five straight after Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

But it's going to be a long summer in other ways, too. For instance, it's only May 12, and I'm already sick of reading articles and hearing radio talk criticizing the Sox for their alleged "refusal" to make trades with the crosstown Cubs.

I'm not going to link to any articles, because this topic doesn't merit more web hits than it's already getting. But if you've been paying attention, you've no doubt heard the discussion.

Let's clear up one thing: Geographical rivals in Major League Baseball rarely trade with each other. The Yankees don't make a lot of deals with the Mets. The Dodgers don't trade much with the Angels. The Orioles and Nationals don't have each other on speed dial. You think the Rangers are going to be talking trade with the Astros anytime soon?

Me neither.

So, it's true the Sox are unlikely to make any deals with the Cubs this year, or any other year, but this is not a unique situation in the game of baseball. So why is the local media making it out as if Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf invented the concept of not making major trades with a close geographic rival?

Your guess is as good as mine. We can only speculate. There are many legitimate criticisms of Reinsdorf and the Sox. We've made some of those criticisms here on this blog, but not making more trades with the Cubs is not a legitimate gripe.

Let's clear up another misconception: At this time, the Sox and Cubs are not a good match as trading partners.

That's right, I said it.

It is true the Sox are interested in dealing starting pitcher Jose Quintana. It is true the Cubs are off to a slow start this season relative to expectation, and lackluster starting pitching has been the main reason for their struggles.

However, many media types are operating under the myth that the Cubs have a "deep farm system." This is false. Of the two Chicago teams, the Sox actually have the higher-ranked farm system -- they are in the top 10, and in some cases the top 5, in a lot of rankings.

The Cubs, in contrast, are ranked in the middle of the pack, because most of their top prospects have now graduated to the big leagues. The North Siders also paid a high price to acquire relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman at last year's trade deadline. The Cubs sent shortstop Gleyber Torres to the Yankees in that deal. Torres is now the top prospect in the New York system, and many believe the Yankees have the best farm system in baseball.

You look at the Cubs, and they have two really good positional prospects -- outfielder Eloy Jimenez and second baseman Ian Happ. But after that, it thins out significantly. To acquire Quintana, the Cubs would have to part with at least one of those two players, and potentially both. Do you think that's a price they want to pay, given that their system is significantly thinner than it was at this same time last year? I doubt it, especially since their tremendous depth was among the reasons they won the 2016 World Series.

You know who else needs a starting pitcher? The Yankees, and as I mentioned, their farm system is regarded by many as the deepest in the game. Don't be surprised if Quintana ends up there midseason. Even though it's lost on the Chicago media, the Sox and Yankees match up much better as trade partners than the Sox and the Cubs. There is no question New York has more trading chips to entice the Sox than any team in baseball, including the Cubs.

I know, I'm destroying the narrative with logic and facts.

You see, there's tremendous risk for both sides when you trade with a close geographic rival. If you make a bad move, or a lopsided move, it can haunt you for years. We still hear talk of how the Sox traded Sammy Sosa to the Cubs -- that trade has been cited this week, in fact. And it was cited to claim the Sox are reluctant to make a move with the Cubs because they were burned on that one, way back in 1992. There's no arguing the Cubs "won" that Sosa deal, steroids stuff aside.

But, let me fill you in on a little secret: Jon Garland was once a first-round draft choice of the Cubs. He also is the proud owner of a White Sox World Series ring. Garland pitched 13 years in the bigs, and he was a two-time 18-game winner with the Sox, including during the 2005 championship season.

The Sox would not have won that championship without Garland, and they would not have had Garland had the Cubs not foolishly traded him to the South Side.

That logic works both ways, but we rarely hear a levelheaded analysis of it. It's much more convenient to accuse Reinsdorf and the Sox of being petty and refusing to deal with the Cubs. That narrative is fiction, and with this blog entry, I've already given it way more discussion than it's worth. So I'll stop right now. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

White Sox must stop overusing Dan Jennings

Dan Jennings
The Pollyannas in the White Sox fan base tell me I should be rejoicing because the team "finally has a plan" to return to legitimate pennant contention.

From where I'm sitting, it appears part of the plan is to kill left-handed reliever Dan Jennings before Memorial Day.

Tuesday night's game, a 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, got out of hand under Jennings' watch. With the Sox trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Jennings relieved and cleaned up a mess left by starter Mike Pelfrey. But the wheels came off when the lefty went back out for the sixth inning. Jennings allowed singles to three of the first four hitters he faced, and that set the table for a four-run Minnesota rally that put the game out of reach.

I can't blame Jennings because he has been overused in the early going this season. He has appeared in 15 of the 31 Sox games, and that seems excessive. The wear and tear is starting to take its toll, as Jennings was pitching well until this past week.

First 12 appearances: 2-0, 0.93 ERA, 7 Ks, 2 BBs, 10 H in 9.2 IP
Past 3 appearances: 0-0, 32.40 ERA, 0 Ks, 1 BB, 8 H in 1.2 IP

Yes, it's going wrong for Jennings now, and the overuse is a twofold problem: First, he's been the only left-hander in the bullpen for most of the year, which means he is being summoned frequently as a situational pitcher. The Sox recently added left-hander David Holmberg to the 25-man roster when Nate Jones went on the disabled list, but Holmberg is roster filler. He's not the type of pitcher who is going to be trusted in medium-leverage situations, let alone high-leverage roles.

Secondly, Jennings has been used as the "first man out" when a starter pitcher falters in the fifth or sixth inning. That was the case in Tuesday's game against the Twins, and it's been the case more than once in games started by Pelfrey and Dylan Covey.

Pelfrey has averaged 4.2 innings in his four starts, while Covey has averaged an even 5 innings in his five starts. Forty percent of the Sox rotation cannot make it through the sixth inning, ever, and that's going to cause somebody in the bullpen to either get hurt or lose effectiveness.

Jennings appears to be the first victim.

So, what are the Sox to do? They are boxed into a corner to some extent. Two guys who were supposed to be in the rotation -- Carlos Rodon and James Shields -- are on the disabled list, and return dates are unknown. In the meantime, somebody has to pitch. The Sox have been consistent in their message that they don't intend to rush their prospects, even though Triple-A results suggest Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez could probably pitch more effectively than Pelfrey and Covey.

But since the Sox don't want to take that step, Pelfrey and Covey are going to keep getting starts. My suggestion? Make them wear it if they don't pitch well. Pelfrey is supposed to be a veteran "innings eater." Well, let's see him eat some innings for once, even if the innings he is providing are not of good quality. That's better than running a left-handed bullpen asset such as Jennings into the ground. Covey is a Rule 5 pick and a developmental guy. Well, it's time to learn the hard way, kid.

When these guys go to the mound, tell them six innings are expected, come hell or high water. Will it result in losses? Of course, but the Sox are already losing the majority of games on the days Pelfrey and Covey pitch. (They are a combined 3-6 in those nine games.)

Another option: Designate Cody Asche for assignment and add a 13th pitcher to the roster. Asche has zero defensively utility, and he's hitting .107/.180/.179 for the season. He easily could be replaced with placeholder pitcher such as Juan Minaya, who is right-handed, but he could soak up some of the burden for the front end of the Sox bullpen. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

Since we last took at look at the numbers for notable White Sox prospects, there was one promotion of significance made.

Right-hander Dane Dunning, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, was promoted from Low-A Kannapolis to High-A Winston-Salem. He went 2-0 with a 0.35 ERA in four starts at Kannapolis, so now we'll see if he can carry that success over to Winston-Salem.

These numbers are through games of May 8.

Charlotte Knights (14-15, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .345/.419/.549, 6 HRs, 11 RBIs, 8 SBs, 34 Ks, 15 BBs, 113 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .295/.378/.446, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 1 SB, 16 Ks, 14 BBs, 112 ABs
Jacob May, OF: .227/.261/.273, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, 1 SB, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 22 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .213/.304/.427, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1 SB, 26 Ks, 11 BBs, 89 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 4-1, 2.88 ERA, 34.1 IP, 28 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 25 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.136 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 3-1, 3.94 ERA, 32 IP, 25 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 35 Ks, 19 BBs, 1.375 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-5, 7.31 ERA, 28.1 IP, 32 H, 25 R, 23 ER, 31 Ks, 18 BBs, 1.765 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1, 2.31 ERA, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 19 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.029 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (11-20, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .200/.314/.280, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 SBs, 35 Ks, 15 BBs, 100 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .127/.146/.291, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 47 Ks, 2 BBs, 79 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-2, 3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 36Ks, 16 BBs, 1.208 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 1-5, 3.65 ERA, 37 IP, 43 H, 18 R, 15 ERs, 31 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.270 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (11-20, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .233/.393/.384 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, 0 SBs, 27 Ks, 23 BBs, 86 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .242/337/363, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 SBs, 25 Ks, 13 BBs, 91 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs
Dunning, RHP: 1-0, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 11 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.565 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (15-15, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Mitch Roman, 2B: .343/.408/.389, 0 HRs, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 108 ABs
Jameson Fisher, OF: .248/.345/.347, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 2 SBs, 30 Ks, 14 BBs, 101 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .310/.375/.437, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 0 SB, 24 Ks, 3 BBs, 87 ABs
Alec Hansen, RHP:1-3, 3.56 ERA, 30.1 IP, 27 H, 18 R, 12 ER, 31 Ks, 12 BBs, 1.286 WHIP

Monday, May 8, 2017

White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada named International League Batter of the Week

Does anybody feel like breaking down the three-game series sweep the White Sox suffered in Baltimore over the weekend?

Me neither. That was a pitiful performance by a below-average team at the end of a 10-game road trip. So why make a Monday even gloomier by reliving it?

Instead, let's talk about White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada, who finished a triple short of the cycle Sunday in Charlotte's 7-1 victory over Gwinnett.

Moncada went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, a walk and a stolen base. For the week of May 1 to 7, the second baseman hit .500 with two home runs and four RBIs. For his efforts, he has been named International League Batter of the Week.

That performance is an extension of a longer-term tear that Moncada has been on. Over his past 15 games, he is hitting .400/.464/.617 with 16 runs scored, three homers and seven RBIs in 69 plate appearances.

For those concerned about Moncada's strikeout rate, yes, he has struck out 26.7 percent of the time in his 124 plate appearances this season. But, that number is starting to come down. His K rate over the past 15 games? It's 21.7 percent. Still a little high, but a clear improvement. For the season, he's hitting .352 with six home runs and 11 RBIs.

When you're watching the Sox get shut out and go 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position -- as they did Sunday -- it's hard not to look forward to the day when Moncada gets called up. It won't happen until at least May 15. If the Sox want to keep Moncada for a seventh year of control -- and they do -- they can't call him up until then.

I'm not going to be the guy who calls for Moncada to be promoted as quickly as possible. He's ready whenever he's ready, and I can be patient. At the same time, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what he can do against major league pitching.

And, also, Carson Fulmer is progressing at Triple-A Charlotte. He got the win in the aforementioned game against Gwinnett. He went six innings and allowed only four base runners (three hits, one walk) and one run. His season ERA is down to 2.88. He has held the opposition to two runs or less in five of his first six starts.

Amid all the hype about prospects who were acquired over the offseason, the best pitcher at Triple-A has been a guy who was in the organization last year -- that's Fulmer.

Friday, May 5, 2017

No complaints about a White Sox split in Kansas City

Anthony Swarzak is on a career hot streak.
As a White Sox fan, I'm often in bad spirits while the team is playing against the Royals in Kansas City. Horrible things tend to happen to the Sox when they go to Kauffman Stadium, and I carry all the scars from past years with me.

Even if the Sox were up 900-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning at Kansas City, I'd be somewhat concerned that the Royals would roar back with 901 runs and pull out a win. Hey, I've got my reasons to be paranoid.

So, when the Sox were leading 7-0 going to the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday, I wasn't counting my chickens. It's never over in Kansas City until the 27th out is recorded, and fortunately, the Sox finished off an 8-3 victory to gain a split in the four-game series.

Perhaps most importantly, at least for me as a fan, they avoided the archetypal, gut-wrenching, devastating, lingers-with-you-for-a-week loss that tends to occur against the Royals. In this series, the Sox (15-12) won the two games in which they had the lead, and they lost the two games in which they did not. That's fine. We'll take it and keep moving.

The Sox are 5-2 against the Royals in 2017, after going 5-14 against them last season. It's refreshing to see the Sox punch back against this Kansas City club for a change, even though the Royals (9-18) are admittedly struggling right now.

Some particulars from Thursday:
  • The Sox took the lead three batters into the game on Jose Abreu's fourth home run of the road trip. It was a two-run shot after a bloop single by Melky Cabrera.
  • Matt Davidson connected for a 452-foot homer in the second inning. It was his fifth of the season, and it came off a right-handed pitcher -- Kansas City's Ian Kennedy (0-3).
  • Derek Holland (3-2) continues to pitch well for the Sox. He allowed no runs and only two hits over the first six innings. He got nicked for a couple runs in the seventh, but again, the Sox had a big lead, so no harm. The second run he allowed was not his fault -- it was unearned after Davidson booted a routine grounder that should have had the Sox out of the inning. Holland's ERA is down to 2.02 after this latest strong outing.
  • Slumping shortstop Tim Anderson had the day off, and third baseman Todd Frazier was a late scratch with back spasms. The Sox had Leury Garcia batting fifth in this game, yet they still posted eight runs. Funny game, this baseball.
  • Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak faced two batters and got both of them out. He has now retired 30 of the last 31 batters he has faced. Swarzak has been on four clubs in the past four years, and his career ERA is in the mid-4s. Yet right now, he's pitching as if he's one of the best relievers in the league.
Have I mentioned that baseball is a funny game?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

White Sox as contenders? I don't think so

Nate Jones
With the White Sox off to a respectable start, there have been some questions about what general manager Rick Hahn might do at the trading deadline if the team stays on the fringes of contention through the first half of the season.

Would he stay the course of a long-term rebuild? Or would he look to add to the roster for a second-half push in 2017?

I have wasted no effort pondering these questions, because I don't see any scenario in which the Sox hang in the race. Yes, the 14-12 start has been surprisingly watchable. However, I don't think this stretch of competitive ball is sustainable, especially knowing the Sox now have five pitchers on the disabled list.

Five pitchers on the DL! And it's only May 4.

Nate Jones is latest Sox pitcher to go on the shelf. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday (retroactive to Monday) with right elbow neuritis.

Left-hander David Holmberg's contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte. To make room for Holmberg on the 40-man roster, Carlos Rodon (left biceps bursitis) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Never mind the holes the Sox have in center field or at designated hitter, their biggest problem is Rodon, James Shields, Jones, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam all being on the disabled list.

The Sox have no fewer than two relief pitchers -- and arguably three -- who have no business being in the major leagues. With Rodon and Shields both sidelined, the Sox have significant holes in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the rotation.

As we've said before, Dylan Covey is on the roster only because he's a Rule 5 draft pick, and the Sox would like to hold onto him and see if they can develop him. As for Mike Pelfrey, I guess we can give him credit for keeping Wednesday's game scoreless through five innings.

But the wheels came off the third time he went through the Kansas City batting order in the sixth inning. A scoreless game turned into a 3-0 Royals lead in the span of four batters, and the Sox ended up losing, 6-1.

Pelfrey, at this stage of his career, is a five-inning pitcher, at best. And there isn't a single contending team in the league that he could pitch for.

The possibility of the Sox hanging in the race, honestly, it's not worth much discussion. I can't see a situation where that happens given the volume of injuries the team is dealing with this early in the season. Regression will hit at some point here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Suddenly, the Royals no longer own Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana
White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana has lost 50 games over his five-plus seasons in the major leagues. Nine of those losses are against the Kansas City Royals.

Coming into the 2017 season, Quintana was 1-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 22 starts against Kansas City.

With that information in hand, it's somewhat surprising that the left-hander has won two games against the Royals in the past week. Quintana followed up a 10-strikeout performance in his previous outing with eight shutout innings Tuesday, leading the Sox to a 6-0 win over Kansas City.

Quintana struck out seven in this game and allowed only four hits -- all singles. He didn't walk anybody until the eighth inning, when he walked two, and that was the only inning where the Royals had a runner reach scoring position. Kansas City placed the leadoff batter on only once in eight innings, and that runner was quickly erased on a 5-4-3 double play in the third.

This was a dominant performance for Quintana (2-4) against a Royals team that has been struggling offensively. Kansas City (8-17) has lost 10 out of 11 games and has scored a league-worst 69 runs through its first 25 games. Safe to say, 2.76 runs a game isn't going to cut it in the American League. The Sox have to hope the Kansas City bats remain quiet for two more games before they get out of town.

Quintana's numbers against the Royals this season? 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 14 innings.

Meanwhile, Royals starter Danny Duffy (2-2)  has seen his fortunes against the Sox take a turn for the worse. The hard-throwing lefty has always had success against Chicago. Coming into this season, he was 6-2 with a 3.20 ERA lifetime vs. the Sox.

But Tuesday, he allowed six runs on 10 hits over five innings. Duffy is 0-2 with a 11.17 ERA with only five strikeouts and four walks in 9.2 innings against the Sox this year.

Avisail Garcia continued his hot streak for Chicago, reaching base in all four plate appearances. He was 2 for 2 with a walk, a HBP, two runs scored and an RBI. The Sox also got a three-hit game from Yolmer Sanchez. Geovany Soto added two hits and two RBIs.

Amusingly, the Sox enter Wednesday's action still atop the AL Central, although four teams are within a half-game of each other. The Sox are 14-11, Minnesota is 13-11, and Cleveland and Detroit both are 14-12. No team has distinguished itself so far in the division race.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jacob May gets second hit, then gets optioned to Charlotte

White Sox rookie Jacob May picked up his second major league hit and third major league RBI on Monday in Kansas City.

Too bad it was the only highlight for the Sox (13-11) in a lackluster 6-1 loss to the Royals, and for now, May's time in the majors is up. He was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the game.

The outfielder made the club with a torrid spring training, but he had a miserable month of April. He went 2 for 36 with 17 strikeouts in 42 plate appearances. And it wasn't getting any better. Despite the rare hit Monday night, May struck out in six of his eight most recent at-bats.

“He might have been a little overmatched,” Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters Monday. “That’s just the bottom line. You want to make excuses for it. Might have been a little overmatched right now. He had a great spring, showed a lot of hard work, tenacity, even here going and working with the guys and trying to get himself back on track, trying to keep his confidence up. His energy has always been the same. It’s very consistent. He’s done everything for the work in the field and working with the guys in the cages and everything else we could have asked of him. He was doing everything he needed to do. Just things weren’t happening.”

No, they were not, and while it was worth giving May an early-season look, it's clear that he's not ready to play in the majors -- not even in a reserve role. We'll see if he can get back on track in Charlotte.

In the meantime, Willy Garcia has been recalled to take May's place on the 25-man roster.

Garcia, 24, has a slash line of .294/.395/.529 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 18 games with the Knights this season. He was up with the Sox previously from April 14 to 16 while Melky Cabrera was on the paternity list. He appeared in two games and went 2 for 7 with a double.

Monday, May 1, 2017

White Sox settle for two out of three in weekend series in Detroit

Jose Abreu -- 12 for 22 in his past six games
The White Sox's six-game winning streak came to an end Sunday in Detroit, but I doubt anyone is complaining too loudly about a series in which the South Siders took two out of three games.

Sure, the Tigers were without offensive stars Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, but you have to remember the Sox were 1-8 last season at Comerica Park. So, in other words, the Sox (13-10) won more games in Detroit this weekend than they did during the entire 2016 campaign.

We'll take it, right? Here's a look back at the weekend series:

Friday, April 28
White Sox 7, Tigers 3: This is a game Detroit third baseman Nicholas Castellanos would like to forget. He made three errors, including two in a decisive top of the eighth inning.

The miscues came on back-to-back plays with the score tied at 3. The Sox loaded the bases and eventually took the lead on a two-out, two-run single by Geovany Soto. The South Siders tacked on two more in the ninth on a two-run homer by Tim Anderson. A game that could have gone either way turned on poor defense and poor bullpen work by the Tigers.

Meanwhile, the Sox's bullpen was stellar. Starter Mike Pelfrey turned in a predictably mediocre outing. He went 4.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He also walked four, which was not an encouraging sign. The good news is the relief corps cleaned up the mess. Dan Jennings, Anthony Swarzak (2-0), Nate Jones and Tommy Kahnle combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.

The Tigers did not have a single base runner in any of the last three innings.

Saturday, April 29
White Sox 6, Tigers 4 (10 inn.): First baseman Jose Abreu has had two hits in each of his past six games, going 12 for 22 in that span to raise his average to .280.

Both of Abreu's hits in Saturday's game were home runs, his first two of the season. The Sox's best hitter was due to break out, and his second home run of this game in the eighth inning staked the South Siders to a 4-2 lead.

That should have been enough to make a winner out of Sox starter Derek Holland, who once again pitched well: 6.1 innings, two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. The veteran's ERA now sits at 2.17.

Alas, David Robertson's run of perfection came to an end, as the Sox closer failed to close, coughing up the two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.

Fortunately, the Sox grabbed the lead back in the top of the 10th on Melky Cabrera's first home run of the season and an RBI triple by Avisail Garcia.

Given a second chance to close out a victory, Robertson (1-0) put up a zero in the bottom of the 10th inning to extend the Sox's winning streak to six.

Sunday, April 30
Tigers 7, White Sox 3: Miguel Gonzalez had won each of his first three decisions this season, and coming into Sunday's start, he had allowed only six hits over 16.1 innings in his previous two outings.

Let's just say regression (and the Tigers) hit Gonzalez (3-1) hard in this one. He gave up 14 hits over six innings, and was fortunate to allow "only" seven runs (six earned) in a struggling outing.

The Sox got an RBI triple from Abreu, an RBI single from Cabrera and a solo home run from Todd Frazier, but it was not nearly enough to overcome a rough day for the Sox's starting pitcher.

The good news is Gonzalez saved the bullpen. He managed to scratch through six innings. The only reliever used was Chris Beck, who labored through two scoreless innings (He walked three. Blech.).

Why does that matter? Well, the Sox are on a 10-game road trip, and they don't have another off-day until May 8. If you're going to lose a ballgame, at least don't run through the whole bullpen. Gonzalez did enough to prevent that from happening, and all relievers except for Beck should be available for Monday's series opener against Kansas City.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

As we come to the end of April, let's take a look at how some notable White Sox prospects have started the season. All statistics are through games of April 27.

Charlotte Knights (9-10, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .297/.373./.500, 4 HRs, 5 RBIs, 5 SBs, 27 Ks, 9 BBs, 74 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .320/.386/.453, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 SBs, 12 Ks, 7 BBs, 75 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .143/.234/.214, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 SB, 19 Ks, 7 BBs, 56 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 2-1, 3.52 ERA, 23 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 19 Ks, 5 BBs, 1.22 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 1-1, 4.87 ERA, 20.1 IP, 20 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 22 Ks, 13 BBs, 1.62 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-3, 6.63 ERA, 19 IP, 18 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 23 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.53 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1 with 2 SVs, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 13 Ks, 3 BB, 1.30 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (8-13, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .222/.309/.333, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 SB, 21 Ks, 9 BBs, 72 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .143/.167/.333, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 35 Ks, 2 BBs, 63 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-1, 2.50 ERA, 18 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 28 Ks, 14 BBs, 1.28 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 0-4, 3.65 ERA, 24.2 IP, 26 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 20Ks, 3 BBs, 1.18 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (7-14, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .172/.372/.293, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 SBs, 22 Ks, 19 BBs, 58 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .245/.333/.377, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 SBs, 14Ks, 7 BBs, 53 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs

Kannapolis Intimidators (10-10, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Jameson Fisher, OF: .261/.329/.362, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 18 Ks, 6 BBs, 69 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .234/.308/.277, 0 HRs, 1 RBI, 0 SBs, 16 Ks, 1 BB, 47 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 2-0, 0.35 ERA, 26 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 33 Ks, 2 BBs, 0.58 WHIP
Alec Hansen, RHP: 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 18.1 IP, 21 H, 14 R, 9 ER, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 1.69 WHIP

Thursday, April 27, 2017

White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana has his first win of 2017

Jose Quintana
Here's a sentence I did not think I would type at any point this season: The White Sox are tied for first place entering Thursday's games.

The South Siders completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 5-2 victory Wednesday, improving their record to 11-9. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians also are 11-9, creating a three-way tie atop the AL Central.

Sox left-hander Jose Quintana (1-4) finally got in the win column Wednesday, as he pitched six innings of two-run ball with a season-high 10 strikeouts. It easily was Quintana's best performance so far, as he entered the outing with an uncharacteristic 6.17 ERA and 5.69 FIP in his first four starts.

In fairness to Quintana, the Sox scored only four runs combined for him in those four games, so wins would have been hard to come by even if he had pitched well.

But Wednesday, the Sox handed him a 2-0 lead on RBI doubles from Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier in the first inning. The lead eventually slipped away as the Royals nicked Quintana for single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. With the scored tied at 2, it looked as if Quintana might be destined for a no-decision.

Alas, the Royals (7-14) are in a deep slump right now -- seven losses in a row -- and they seem to be inventing ways to lose games. A really, really bad pitch by Kansas City starter Nate Karns (0-2) allowed the Sox to grab the lead back in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Karns had been fooling the Sox's right-handed hitters all day with breaking balls in the dirt. Avisail Garcia was retired on pitches down and out of the zone in each of his first two at-bats Wednesday, and in his third at-bat, he swung and missed badly at a Karns breaking pitch that was down, outside and well out of the zone to open the sequence.

You got the feeling that Karns would retire Garcia again if he just stayed with his offspeed pitch. Instead, on the 0-1 count, he thought he'd go ahead and try to sneak a middle-in fastball past Garcia. The Sox right fielder was ready, and he clubbed the pitch 451 feet to center field for a two-run homer that put Chicago ahead, 4-2. Horrible pitch selection by Karns, and even worse execution.

Quintana's day was done after six innings, but he was then in line for the win. Leury Garcia's solo home run in the seventh made it 5-2, and four Sox relievers combined to throw three scoreless innings to put away the game.

David Robertson worked the ninth inning to earn his fifth save in five chances. His ERA is down to 1.17, for all those clubs out there who are in need of bullpen help. (I'm looking at you, Washington Nationals.)

The Sox probably won't stay in first for long. Thursday is an off day, while Detroit and Cleveland are both in action. At least one of them likely will win and drop the Sox down the standings, but it's nice to be at the top -- if only for a day -- during a rebuilding season.