Showing posts with label James Shields. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Shields. Show all posts

Monday, July 16, 2018

White Sox (somehow) six games ahead of Royals at All-Star break

Leury Garcia
The first half of the season has been a disaster for the White Sox. They are 33-62, on pace for 106 losses, which would tie the club record set in 1970.

That's no small statement, because the Sox have been around since 1901, and they've only had three 100-loss seasons over those 117 years. We're looking at historic ineptness this summer.

Despite all that, the Sox somehow are not in last place at the All-Star break. In fact, they are six games ahead of the Kansas City Royals (27-68) in the AL Central, after winning two out of three games against the Royals over the weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, July 13
White Sox 9, Royals 6: This game had all the elements of a matchup between two teams that are a combined 70 games below .500. There was no shortage of poor pitching and sloppy defense.

The good part for the Sox: home runs by Jose Abreu, Leury Garcia and Omar Narvaez as part of a 14-hit attack. And James Shields (4-10) pitched into the seventh inning without allowing an earned run, although another error by Yoan Moncada in the second cost Shields two runs.

The Sox took a 7-2 lead into the seventh before Shields ran out of gas, and five relief pitchers were needed to cover the final seven outs. The Royals crawled within 7-6 with two outs in the eighth, and they had two men on base when Jorge Bonifacio flied to the warning track in center field for the third out.

Fortunately, Narvaez delivered a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to provide some breathing room, which Joakim Soria ultimately did not need. The Sox reliever earned his 14th save by retiring the side in order, with two strikeouts, in the ninth.

Saturday, July 14
Royals 5, White Sox 0: The Sox went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base against Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (5-8) and two relievers. Duffy walked three and allowed four hits over seven shutout innings, and all of the Sox hits were singles.

Give Reynaldo Lopez (4-7) some credit. At least he went 7.2 innings, but he was victimized by two home runs -- one by Bonifacio in the first and the other by the final hitter he faced, Salvador Perez in the eighth.

It was a bad, boring game and one you can just flush away. Lopez forgot to throw a shutout, and the Sox bats were silent.

Sunday, June 15
White Sox 10, Royals 1: Sox bats were anything but silent in the final game of the series. Moncada had a big afternoon, 3 for 4 with three runs scored, and he finished a triple short of the cycle. Daniel Palka opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run homer and also finished 3 for 4 with three runs scored. Garcia also had a three-hit game.

The support was plenty for Lucas Giolito (6-8), who allowed only two hits over 6.1 innings of shutout ball. He struck out eight and walked three.

For Giolito, the key inning was the first. He walked two and gave up a single to Perez, but Bonifacio was thrown out at the plate by 20 feet on that single, handing Giolito the second out of an inning in which he was struggling to find the plate. The Sox right-hander then struck out Lucas Duda to end the inning without giving up a run, despite throwing 30-plus pitches.

After that, Giolito settled in and dominated the middle innings, while the Sox bludgeoned a ragtag collection of Kansas City relievers.

It was a bad first half, but at least it ended with a lopsided win. That gives everyone something positive to take with them for the four days off over the All-Star break.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Grinder Bash 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field -- let's visit the home clubhouse

Grinder Bash, the White Sox's annual party for season-ticket holders, was sparsely attended Saturday, perhaps because this rebuilding team doesn't have many season-ticket holders anymore.

That's fine. More room for us, and for the first time (at least in the years I've attended this event), fans had access to the home clubhouse.


You can see Yoan Moncada's locker right behind me, near the front of the clubhouse. Not surprisingly, Moncada's locker is between those of Hector Santiago and Jose Abreu, whose locker is just out of frame to the right. The Sox obviously want Moncada hanging around a couple of the veteran Latino players who have been there and done that. Let's hope for the sake of the Sox's rebuild that young Yoan gets it going soon. His batting average is down to .221 entering Monday's play; his on-base percentage is down to .289.


Danny Farquhar's locker remain full and intact, even though he hasn't been around the team as much since suffering a life-threatening brain aneurysm during a game April 20 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Notably, Farquhar has a signed Frank Thomas jersey hanging in his locker. That's a pretty cool piece of memorabilia to have. I think the entire baseball community, not just the White Sox organization and its fans, wishes Farquhar well as he continues to recover from one of the scariest situations I've seen happen at a major league ballpark.


I probably found this funnier than it really is, but I got a kick out of seeing a suitcase in Juan Minaya's locker. This guy has been up and down between the Sox and Triple-A Charlotte all season, and I can't help but wonder if that suitcase is there just in case he gets another tap on the shoulder and another plane ticket to North Carolina. Well, actually, with the way Bruce Rondon has been pitching lately, perhaps Minaya's roster spot is safer than it's been at other points during the season.


Off in the corner, here is James Shields' locker. He has nobody to his left, and nobody to his right. Has he really earned all that personal space? Yeah, he's a veteran and all, but his record is 3-9. In the past, perhaps this roomy part of the clubhouse might have belonged to an accomplished Sox player such as, say, Paul Konerko. It seems as though Shields is the guy who currently gets the royal treatment, deserving or not. Or, perhaps they just make him sit in the corner for not being very good at pitching at this stage of his career.


Here's the view from behind home plate. If you ever want to feel small, go down on the field at a major league stadium on a non-game day when the ballpark is empty. You never realize just how big a place it is until you're down at field level.


One other interesting little note: On the wall in the Sox bullpen, the relief corps keeps track of the number of calls received from the dugout. During the 2017 season, there were 888 calls made to the bullpen during the 81 home games. It looks as though the Sox are on pace to exceed that total this season. So far, 502 calls have been made to the bullpen through 43 home games. That's an average of about 11.6 a game. That puts the Sox on pace for 945.6 calls over an 81-game period. Yes, these are rough days. By way of comparison, the calls during the 2013 season only numbered in the 400s. The 2013 Sox were a bad club -- 99 losses -- but starting pitching was the strength: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy, the pre-injury Santiago, etc. These days, starting pitching is a weakness, and the bullpen is busy.

The other great thing about Grinder Bash: Free food and drinks, including beer, for those who choose to partake. As I said, the season-ticket base for the Sox is fewer in number than it has ever been, and those of us who have chosen to stick it out through this rebuild have earned a perk such as this.

When all is said and done, it might be one of the more enjoyable days at the ballpark in 2018. After all, we weren't walking back to our cars after a White Sox loss, which has so often been the case during this most trying of seasons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

White Sox salvage split with Oakland with Sunday blowout

Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon went eight innings and got the win Sunday. Yoan Moncada had six RBIs as the White Sox trounced the Oakland Athletics, 10-3.

It was cathartic, wasn't it?

The Sox recently have been through another really rough stretch of baseball, but you take the positives where you can, and Sunday's rout to salvage a split of a four-game set with Oakland was one of those days where it was OK to smile.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, June 22
Athletics 11, White Sox 2 (Game 1): The Sox entered this series off a 12-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, and the "clownish" play continued in the opener of a doubleheader.

Sox starter James Shields (2-9) allowed eight runs over 4.2 innings, but only two were earned as the South Siders totaled three errors -- two by Moncada.

Oakland scored four runs in the second inning and four more in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead, so this was one over early and ugly throughout.

White Sox 6, Athletics 4 (Game 2): This probably was the best outing we've seen from Lucas Giolito (5-7) all season, as his fastball was sitting at 95 mph for much of the game, unlike the 91-92 we've become accustomed to in several of his previous starts.

Giolito's line doesn't look all that great: four earned runs allowed in seven plus innings, but he walked off the mound with a 5-2 lead in the eighth. A couple of inherited runners scored that were added to his line.

Give left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno some credit -- he entered the game with runners on first and third and no outs in the top of the eighth with the Sox clinging to a 5-4 lead. Cedeno pitched out of it, and Tim Anderson added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run.

Anderson went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and three runs scored.

Saturday, June 23
Athletics 7, White Sox 6: Anderson continued his hot hitting with a three-run homer in the first inning Saturday that staked the Sox to an early 5-0 lead.

Alas, Oakland rallied for the win. Dylan Covey exited in the fifth inning with a groin strain -- the Sox were leading 5-2 at the time -- and the wheels came off from there. Chris Volstad allowed two inherited runners to score, and gave up two earned runs of his own.

Juan Minaya (0-2) took the loss by allowing a run in the eighth, but some poor defense was played behind him. Minaya struck out the first two hitters, and got a routine fly to right off the bat of Stephen Piscotty. OK, maybe it wasn't routine, because Avisail Garcia lost the ball in the sun. It fell for a "double."

Piscotty then scored on a two-out RBI single by Nick Martini that put the A's up, 7-6.

Oakland committed two infield errors in the bottom of the ninth. Despite its efforts to give the game back to the Sox, the South Siders could not take advantage. Matt Davidson grounded into a game-ending double play with two runners on.

Sunday, June 24
White Sox 10, Athletics 3: The turning point came in the top of the fifth inning. Oakland led, 2-0, and had runners on second and third with nobody out.

Rodon was on the ropes, but he punched his way out of it, inducing a weak grounder to third, getting a strikeout, and then a weak popout to second base.

The Sox scored five in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Moncada's two-out, three run double. The second baseman added three more RBIs with a home run in the bottom of the sixth, as the Sox added five more runs.

Given a 10-2 lead, Rodon cruised through the eighth inning. He only struck out three, but he did not walk a batter -- note to all Sox pitchers, everything works better when you throw strikes.

Sox relievers walked three men in the top of the ninth, and Oakland scored a run, but the Sox effectively ended any doubt about the outcome when Moncada homered in the sixth.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Two steps back: White Sox swept at home by Detroit Tigers

Nicholas Castellanos
The Detroit Tigers are not a good road team. In fact, they are 13-20 away from Comerica Park.

But you would never know it by their performance at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, where they are 6-0 after sweeping a weekend series from the White Sox. So, the Tigers are 7-20 on the road against teams not named the White Sox.

Pathetic, and frustrating for Sox fans. It's especially frustrating after the Sox had shown signs of progress in June -- taking two out of three from the Brewers, splitting four games with the Twins, taking two out of three from the Red Sox and splitting four games with the Indians.

Now, the Sox go three games without ever taking a lead at home against the middling Tigers. Ugh.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, June 15
Tigers 4, White Sox 3: This game was characterized by suspect bullpen management from Rick Renteria.

The Sox trailed, 3-0, through five innings, but Omar Narvaez hit his first home run of the season, a 3-run shot in the sixth, to tie the game.

But for some reason, Renteria blew through relief pitchers Xavier Cedeno, Bruce Rondon and Luis Avilan to get three outs in the top of the seventh inning.

While those three relievers combined to keep the Tigers off the board in the 7th, it was strange that Renteria chose to play matchups when no runner reached scoring position in the inning. It was not a dangerous situation.

Then, Juan Minaya -- who is only in the big leagues because Nate Jones is on the disabled list -- was entrusted to pitch the eighth inning. Of course, Minaya immediately went single, walk to put himself in trouble.

He was allowed to stay in, perhaps because the aforementioned three relievers already had been used, and of course, the Tigers scored a run and won the game.

Head-scratching.

Saturday, June 16
Tigers 7, White Sox 5: Detroit right fielder Nicholas Castellanos was mired in a 1-for-21 slump until Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito took the mound.

Giolito took care of that, allowing a 3-run homer to Castellanos in the third and a two-run homer to him in the fifth. Both home runs came after Giolito had issued a two-out walk.

The Sox trailed, 5-0, going to the bottom of the fifth, but they rallied to tie the game. An RBI double by Tim Anderson, a two-run single by Charlie Tilson and a sacrifice fly by Trayce Thompson highlighted a four-run fifth.

In the sixth, Yolmer Sanchez tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu. 5-5 game.

But Abreu missed a big chance in the seventh. He grounded out weakly to third with the bases loaded and two outs. Worse yet, he swung at two bad pitches to open the at-bat, after Detroit reliever Buck Farmer had walked Yoan Moncada and Sanchez to load the bases for Abreu.

It was a rare poor at-bat for the Sox's best hitter.

In the eighth, Detroit only hit one ball out of the infield -- a leadoff single by Victor Martinez -- but the Tigers plated two runs because Rondon walked two guys and misplayed a bunt.

It was a frustrating defeat on what could have been a feel-good day after the Sox erased a five-run deficit.

Sunday, June 17
Tigers 3, White Sox 1: Castellanos continued to punk the Sox. He got a hanging breaking ball from James Shields in the first inning and hit it out for a two-run homer.

That was essentially the game, as the Sox failed to generate much offense against soft-tossing Detroit left-handed Blaine Hardy.

Matt Davidson's team-leading 12th home run of the season provided the only Sox offense in the second inning.

But hey, Shields (2-8) went at least six innings for the 11th consecutive start, and he didn't allow the game to get out of hand.

Increase that trade value, James.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

James Shields beats Indians, gets first win since March 29

James Shields
I had a sense that Tuesday's pitching matchup provided the White Sox with their best chance to beat the Cleveland Indians in this week's four-game series.

Sure enough, the Sox won Tuesday, 5-1. 

Does it sound weird that I expected to win a James Shields start? Maybe, but my hopes for victory Tuesday were less about Shields and more about the Cleveland starter, Adam Plutko.

Plutko's name is not Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer or Mike Clevinger, and I figured he would be the one Indians starter the Sox could hit.

They hit him all right, as Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez hit home runs on back-to-back pitches in the bottom of the first inning. Matt Davidson added a pair of RBI doubles -- one in the first and one in the fifth -- and Omar Narvaez contributed an RBI single as the Sox touched up Plutko for five runs over 4.2 innings.

And, oh yeah, credit Shields (2-7) for doing his job. He went seven innings and allowed only one run on four hits. He didn't miss many bats -- only two strikeouts -- but he didn't walk anybody, and he induced a fair amount of weak contact with 14 fly-ball outs.

Shields has pitched six innings or more in each of his past 10 games, and this is his first victory since March 29 -- the season opener in Kansas City. His ERA is down to 4.63, after being at 6.14 after the month of April.

Is Shields emerging as a potential midseason trade candidate? I'm not holding my breath, but Sox fans can hope. He's pitching better now than at any point since he put on a Sox uniform.

Monday, June 4, 2018

White Sox (shockingly) win a series against Milwaukee Brewers

Tim Anderson
Next time a Cubs fan makes a snide remark to me while I'm wearing a White Sox shirt or hat around town -- and believe me, that happens often -- I'll be sure to point out that the Sox did the Cubs a favor by taking two out of three games from the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend.

This marks the first time the Sox (18-38) have won a series against a legitimate contender this season, and the Brewers (37-23) saw their division lead over the Cubs trimmed from four games to two.

Here's a look back at the weekend's action:

Friday, June 1
White Sox 8, Brewers 3: The Sox fell behind 3-0 early as starting pitcher Hector Santiago got knocked out in the fourth inning, but the hitters battled back with three runs in the third, three in the sixth and two in the seventh.

The offensive output was satisfying, as the Sox roughed up three Milwaukee relievers who used to play on the South Side of Chicago -- Boone Logan, Matt Albers and Dan Jennings.

Tim Anderson's two-out, two run triple in the sixth off Albers broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Sox the lead for good. Moments later, Omar Narvaez singled home Anderson to make it 6-3.

The Sox tacked on two more in the seventh against Jennings. Meanwhile, the Brewers could not muster a single hit against a combination of five Sox relievers -- Chris Volstad, Luis Avilan, Joakim Soria, Bruce Rondon and Nate Jones -- over the last 5.2 innings of the game. Avilan (2-0) picked up the win.

Saturday, June 2
Brewers 5, White Sox 0: I've been critical of James Shields, but some credit is due to him, despite his 1-6 record.

Sure, he took the loss again Saturday, but he pitched a respectable game. He went seven-plus innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked only one. The three runs allowed all came on solo home runs.

Some days, that's good enough to win. Shields has had a lot of games recently where he was good enough to win, and just didn't because of the bad team around him.

Shields has worked seven innings or more in four consecutive starts. He has worked six innings or more in eight consecutive starts. Six of the eight have been quality starts, but none of them have resulted in wins.

Tough luck.

On Saturday, the Sox managed only five hits against the combination of Jhoulys Chacin (4-1) and two Milwaukee relievers. That is not a recipe for success.

Sunday, June 3
White Sox 6, Brewers 1: Albers didn't take the loss in this game -- Milwaukee starter Brent Suter (5-4) did -- but the portly former Sox reliever wore the goat horns once more.

With the score tied at 1, Yolmer Sanchez's leadoff single in the sixth inning sent Suter to the showers in favor of Albers, and two batters later, pinch hitter Daniel Palka launched a 433-foot home run to right field that gave the Sox a 3-1 lead. Adam Engel made it back-to-back homers with a wall scraper that deflected off the glove of Milwaukee center fielder Lorenzo Cain and over the fence. 4-1 Sox.

The Sox got to Jennings again, as well, as they added two runs in the eighth. Sanchez walked and scored on a double by Jose Abreu. Moments later, Engel doubled home Abreu to cap the scoring.

Sox starter Dylan Covey pitched five-plus innings of one-run ball, but he received a no-decision. The win went to Volstad (1-3), who combined with Avilan to get through the sixth inning. Soria, Jace Fry and Chris Beck each pitched scoreless innings to close it out.

You're welcome, Cubs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Rare strong start by James Shields goes to waste

James Shields
Here's a sentence we rarely type on this blog: James Shields deserved better.

The veteran White Sox right-hander retired 15 St. Louis Cardinals batters in a row at one point Tuesday night. After giving up a leadoff homer to Tommy Pham, Shields did not allow another St. Louis base runner until the sixth inning.

He completed six innings, allowing only one run on two hits. He struck out four, and surprisingly, he did not walk anyone.

Too bad the Sox lost, 3-2, when the Cardinals scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth off another erstwhile veteran pitcher who has seen better days, Sox "closer" Joakim Soria.

The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on a two-out, two run double from Yoan Moncada. That stuck all the way until the ninth inning.

Soria gave up a home run to Matt Carpenter, a double to Marcell Ozuna and a game-deciding single to Yadier Molina.

The Cardinals weren't exactly hot coming into this series -- they had lost three in a row. But don't worry, St. Louis. The Sox are the cure for what ails every team not named the Kansas City Royals.

The South Siders are now 3-17 against teams not named the Royals, and 8-19 overall.

It's going to be a bad, long, boring season. What else can you say right now?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

White Sox drop another one-run game to the Mariners

Felix Hernandez
The White Sox don't seem capable of winning a series right now -- they've lost their past six series in a row -- but at least this latest three-game set against the Seattle Mariners was more competitive than some of the others.

After winning the first game, the Sox suffered two one-run losses, including a 4-3 defeat Wednesday afternoon.

The Sox got off to a good start. Yoan Moncada hit Felix Hernandez's first pitch of the game for a solo home run. Yolmer Sanchez hit Hernandez's second pitch of the game for a double, and he scored later in the inning on a broken-bat single by Tim Anderson.

But James Shields (1-3) couldn't hold the early 2-0 lead. Seattle tied it at 2 with two runs in the third. The Sox retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded groundout by Daniel Palka, who went 0 for 4 in his major league debut.

The Mariners tied it in the fifth on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz and took the lead for good in the sixth when Mike Zunino homered off Shields. Hernandez (3-2) kept the Sox off the board in the middle innings, and the Seattle bullpen tossed three innings of shutout relief.

The Sox dropped to 3-5 in one-run games. They've already lost two 1-0 games this season, including one Tuesday against the Mariners. This is a Sox team that is hitting .198 with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, they are hitting a meager .161.

For all the justifiable consternation about the pitching staff, the Sox would have a few more wins if they were hitting, say, .230 with runners in scoring position. The overall team batting average is .236, so that shouldn't be too much to ask.

I keep thinking a market correction is coming on this, and while the Sox will never be a winning team this season, they should be able to pull out a few more victories with even a modest increase in production with men on base.

Monday, April 23, 2018

White Sox overmatched by defending champion Astros

Danny Farquhar
The White Sox have lost seven in a row and 12 out of 13. They were outscored, 27-2, at home by the defending champion Houston Astros over the weekend, and relief pitcher Danny Farquhar is fighting for his life after collapsing in the dugout Friday night because of a brain hemorrhage.

And, Monday's scheduled starter against the Seattle Mariners, Miguel Gonzalez, has just been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a swollen ERA, errr ... right rotator cuff inflammation.

The Sox purchased the contract of Chris Beck from Triple-A Charlotte and transferred Farquhar to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Greg Infante also is back on the Sox, having been recalled Saturday after Farquhar was rushed to the hospital Friday evening.

Reports indicate Farquhar, 31, who has a wife and three children, will need to remain in the hospital for a minimum of three weeks.

Anyone having fun yet this season? I guess it can only get better from here. Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, April 20
Astros 10, White Sox 0: It would have been foolish to expect a different outcome with James Shields pitching against Justin Verlander, but that doesn't mean it was easy to watch.

Shields hung in there for three innings before the Astros erupted for five runs in the fourth inning. Houston added four more in the sixth against the combination of Shields (1-2) and Farquhar, and obviously, what happened with Farquhar in the dugout after that inning was difficult for all those involved to witness.

The Sox managed only two hits off Verlander (3-0), who fanned five over six scoreless innings. With the game out of reach, the Astros chose not to extend their ace. They used a combination of three relievers that held the South Siders hitless over the last three innings.

Saturday, April 21
Astros 10, White Sox 1: This game was the most disappointing one of the weekend for me, as I had high hopes for Lucas Giolito coming into the season, but he has been dreadful in his first four starts.

He gave up four runs in the first inning Saturday, then walked the bases loaded in the second before allowing a grand slam to Josh Reddick to put the Sox in an 8-0 hole.

For good measure, Giolito walked the first two batters of the third inning before manager Rick Renteria mercifully made a pitching change.

Giolito's final line: 2 IP, 5 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 K, 7 BBs, only 32 of 71 pitches thrown for strikes.

Terrible. Giolito's season ERA now sits at 9.00. His WHIP is 1.850.

The Sox managed one run off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (1-3) in six innings. Newly reacquired outfielder Trayce Thompson hit a solo home run in the fifth.

Sunday, April 22
Astros 7, White Sox 1: I wasn't overly thrilled to see Reynaldo Lopez walk four guys and strike out only two over five innings, but hey, he limited the Astros one run on four hits over that time.

These days, that qualifies as a great start for a Sox pitcher. The South Siders scored their one run in the second inning off Lance McCullers (3-1) on back-to-back doubles by Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez.

Lopez, who reportedly was fighting a stomach bug, needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, but he exited in 1-1 tie.

The Astros put the game away, however, with five runs in the seventh inning off the combination of Aaron Bummer (0-1), Bruce Rondon and Nate Jones.

Bummer took the loss because he gave up a leadoff single to the only batter he faced, but Rondon was the reliever most responsible for the big inning. He faced five batters, retired only one and allowed two hits and two walks.

The Astros took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and most fans headed to the exits early, knowing a Houston sweep was imminent.

The Sox dropped to 1-8 at home this season, entering this week's three-game series against the Mariners.

Friday, March 30, 2018

White Sox tie MLB record with six home runs on Opening Day

Matt Davidson
Let's take a moment to rejoice: It's March 30, and the White Sox are alone in first place in the American League Central Division.

OK, that isn't worth much, but the traditional day off after Opening Day is much more enjoyable when your favorite team's record is 1-0.

I wasn't expecting the Sox to win Thursday, especially with James Shields on the mound, but an offensive onslaught allowed the South Siders to blow out the Kansas City Royals, 14-7.

The Sox hit six home runs on Opening Day, which ties a major league record -- the 1988 New York Mets were the other team to do it. And Matt Davidson became only the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in an opener -- George Bell (1988), Tuffy Rhodes (1994) and Dmitri Young (2005) were the others.

Davidson's performance overshadowed a two-homer game for Tim Anderson. Jose Abreu also homered for the Sox.

Indeed, Sox fans are feeling good today, but they weren't feeling so good at 3:28 p.m. Thursday afternoon, about 13 minutes after the season began. The Sox went three-up, three-down in the top of the first inning against Kansas City starter Danny Duffy, and Shields put the Sox in a 4-0 hole only four batters into the bottom of the first inning.

Lucas Duda's three-run homer put the Royals ahead 4-0, as the first four Kansas City batters recorded hits. Same old Shields, right.

Well, it's no secret I'm not a fan of the 36-year-old veteran, but after that horrible start, the right-hander settled down and gave up nothing over the next five innings. He got through six innings, allowing only the four runs that came across in the first.

If you would have told me Thursday morning that Shields would get through six innings and give up four runs, I would have taken it. So, I'll take it.

Not to mention, Shields was better than Duffy, who fell apart the second time through the batting order. The Kansas City left-hander battled shoulder problems during spring training, so perhaps he just wasn't ready to go more than a few innings. He limited the Sox to one hit through the first three innings, but the roof caved in on him in the fourth.

Avisail Garcia doubled. Abreu homered. Davidson homered. Anderson homered. Yolmer Sanchez walked. Adam Engel singled. Yoan Moncada doubled. All of a sudden, it was 5-4 Sox, and the rout was on from there.

The Sox added three runs in the fifth, three in the seventh and three in the eighth.

The only concern I have from this game is the struggles of relief pitcher Juan Minaya, who gave up two runs and could not finish the ninth inning. Minaya walked a batter and threw two wild pitches in his two-thirds of an inning, and that wildness has been a pattern going back to his last couple of spring training outings.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he was 9 for 10 in save opportunities down the stretch in 2017, but I don't think he should be the closer now, with Nate Jones healthy and Joakim Soria also on the roster.

It will be interesting to see how manager Rick Renteria uses the bullpen the first time the Sox are in a late-inning, high-leverage situation.

The Sox have two more games with the Royals this weekend, weather permitting. Right-hander Lucas Giolito will pitch for the Sox at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. He'll be opposed by Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start for the Sox at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. The Royals will counter with right-hander Jason Hammel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito pitching well in Cactus League

Perhaps I've spent too much time this spring complaining about James Shields and Carson Fulmer. So, let's talk about one of the positive signs from White Sox camp: Right-hander Lucas Giolito has had a terrific spring.

Giolito's last real tune-up for the regular season happened Tuesday, and he was sharp in a 10-0 victory over the Texas Rangers. He went 6.1 innings and allowed only two hits. He struck out four and walked none, reducing his spring ERA to 2.04. That's impressive anywhere, but especially good in the Cactus League, where the sky is high and breaking balls don't break.

The 23-year-old has 17 strikeouts against four walks in 17.1 innings pitched. He's allowed only 11 hits. Let's hope Giolito's success carries over into the regular season. His performance has been good news in a camp that has been notable mostly because of the nagging injuries suffered by notable players.

(Jose Abreu left Tuesday's game with hamstring tightness. Kevan Smith sprained his ankle. Both are listed as day to day.)

And, hey, the Sox totaled 20 hits for the second consecutive day Tuesday. The games have been locally televised each of the past two days, and the Sox have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 25-2. What's not to like about that? 

Monday, March 19, 2018

White Sox Opening Day starter: James Shields

James Shields
There's nothing like Opening Day. For many baseball fans, including me, it's more exciting than Christmas morning was when I was a little kid.

However, that enthusiasm is somewhat lessened when you know your favorite team is almost certain to begin the season 0-1.

Such is the case for me this year, as the White Sox have named 36-year-old James Shields as their Opening Day starter.

Yuck.

Shields has made 43 starts with the Sox since he was acquired midseason in 2016, and he's gone 9-19 with a 5.99 ERA. The veteran right-hander has given up a whopping 58 home runs over those 43 starts, and his 5.23 ERA in 2017 actually was lauded as being an improvement after the 6.77 ERA Shields posted in 22 starts with the Sox in 2016.

Double yuck.

So what could be the justification for starting Shields against the Kansas City Royals on March 29? Well, once upon a time, in place not named Chicago, Shields was a respectable major league pitcher. Believe it or not, he's made seven previous Opening Day starts -- four with the Tampa Bay Rays, two with Kansas City and one with the San Diego Padres. So, he has experience, and the moment shouldn't rattle him.

In those seven starts, Shields is 2-2 with a 4.75 ERA, although in fairness to him, five of those seven starts were quality, and the two rough outings were enough to inflate his ERA. But that was then, and this is now, and Shields simply hasn't done anything in the past two years to inspire confidence.

There's no reason to believe he's the Sox's best pitcher, so you won't catch me calling him the "ace." There are aces, and then there are guys who start on Opening Day. Shields is the latter, not the former.

Here's one silver lining: Shields is scheduled to pitch twice on the season-opening road trip to Kansas City and Toronto. His second start should come April 4 against the Blue Jays, which means there's no way in hell he will be anywhere near the mound when the Sox open at home April 5 against the Detroit Tigers.

If pitchers remain on schedule, Lucas Giolito is in line to start the second game of the season against the Royals, which would mean it would be his turn for the home opener April 5. Right now, it's looking like Reynaldo Lopez will pitch the third game, and Miguel Gonzalez the fourth.

Carson Fulmer and Hector Santiago continue to compete for the fifth starting rotation spot. Fulmer will make a spring start today -- March 19 -- against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

White Sox sign Hector Santiago to minor league deal

Hector Santiago
The White Sox added another pitcher to their list of roster candidates Wednesday, signing left-hander Hector Santiago to a minor league deal.

Santiago, of course, is a familiar face on the South Side of Chicago. He was drafted by the Sox in 2006 and pitched for the team from 2011 to 2013. During that time, he made 78 appearances (24 starts) and went 8-10 with a respectable 3.41 ERA.

He was a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels from 2014 through the middle of 2016, when he was traded to the Minnesota Twins. His best overall season was with Los Angeles in 2015, when he made the All-Star team and went 9-9 with 3.59 ERA.

Santiago struggled with Minnesota in 2017. A back injury limited him to 15 games (14 starts), and he went 4-8 with a 5.63 ERA. Questions marks about both health and performance are why he was available to the Sox on a minor league deal.

There is not much to lose offering an experienced pitcher a minor league deal. If Santiago is injured or looks bad in spring training, he will be cut. But if he can regain the form he showed between 2013 and 2015, he's a roster candidate either in the rotation or in the bullpen.

The Sox don't have an obvious candidate for long reliever in camp, and Santiago might be that guy if he can show well. He also provides some starting rotation insurance.

We think we know the five guys who will open the season in the Sox's rotation: veterans James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez and youngsters Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer.

But with Carlos Rodon likely to start the season on the disabled list, the Sox don't have much in the way of fallback options should any of those aforementioned five get injured during spring or falter early in the season.

Santiago could provide that fallback option.

And since he is a former Sox player coming back to Chicago, we need to formally welcome him back with this video:


Monday, January 22, 2018

5 White Sox prospects make Baseball America's top 100 list

White Sox farmhands occupy five spots on Baseball America's list of top 100 prospects, which was released Monday morning.

The five players are:

4. Eloy Jimenez
11. Michael Kopech
57. Alec Hansen
58. Luis Robert
82. Dane Dunning

It's a good sign for the Sox to still have five players in the top 100, considering three of their guys who were on the list at this time last year are no longer eligible because they are now in the big leagues -- Yoan Moncada (No. 2), Lucas Giolito (No. 25) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 31).

Zack Collins was No. 56 last year, but he has fallen off the list after struggling at Class-A Winston-Salem in 2017 (.223 average with 118 strikeouts).

The other bad news? Fernando Tatis Jr. is No. 9 in these rankings. In case you've forgotten, Tatis Jr. is the shortstop the Sox traded the San Diego Padres in 2016 in exchange for James Shields.

We said at the time of the Shields deal that it was the sort of trade that gets GMs fired. Rick Hahn can thank his lucky stars that some of the young players he's acquired since the Shields deal have masked the loss of Tatis Jr.