Showing posts with label Lorenzo Cain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lorenzo Cain. Show all posts

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Sox lose two of three to Kansas City Royals

Reynaldo Lopez
Hey, that winning streak was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? It reached four when the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, but reality set in over the weekend as Kansas City prevailed in the final two games of the three-game series.

The Sox (45-70) finished their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record, which was a pleasant surprise despite some weekend ugliness. Here's a look back at this latest series.

Friday, Aug. 11
White Sox 6, Royals 3 -- Reynaldo Lopez finally got his opportunity, and he started his Sox career in electrifying fashion. He struck out five of the first eight hitters he faced, and turned in six quality innings.

The rookie right-hander allowed two solo home runs to Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, but he kept the Royals off the board otherwise. He struck out six and walked three in receiving a no-decision.

The game was tied at 2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, when the Sox broke it open with a four-spot. Tim Anderson's two-run homer capped the rally, which also featured a go-ahead RBI triple by Adam Engel. The center fielder became the first Sox player to collect two triples in a game since Alejandro De Aza in 2011.

Aaron Bummer worked two scoreless innings of relief to pick up his first major league win.

Saturday, Aug. 12
Royals 5, White Sox 4 -- Hey, a quality start by James Shields!

Sure, Shields put the Sox in a 3-0 hole after two innings, but he didn't give up anything else over a six-inning outing. And the Sox got him off the hook, eventually rallying to take a 4-3 lead on Leury Garcia's two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Alas, the lead did not stick.

Reliever Chris Beck did what he does best -- walk people. Bummer relieved after Beck walked Lorenzo Cain to start the the eighth inning, and the rookie left-hander took the loss this time -- serving up a two-run homer to former Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera.

It stunk to see the four-game winning streak come to an end, but this game was an entertaining, back-and-forth contest. You can live with losses such as this one during a rebuilding season.

Sunday, Aug. 13
Royals 14, White Sox 6 -- In contrast, Sunday's loss was not one you could live with. It was a parade of terrible pitching that started with Derek Holland and continued with Mike Pelfrey, Beck, Greg Infante and Brad Goldberg.

Holland (6-12) allowed seven earned runs and didn't make it out of the third inning. Those who followed him weren't much better. Sox pitchers combined to give up 16 hits and walk nine batters in a boring game that took 3 hours, 38 minutes to play.

A fan seated behind me at Sunday's game pointed out that Holland is only here to "eat innings," which is true enough. I would be fine with that if Holland would, you know, actually eat some innings. It's ridiculous for him to get bombed like that and overexpose an inexperienced Sox bullpen. That's been a season-long complaint of mine: veteran innings-eaters failing to eat innings.

There were some positives offensively. Anderson continued his improved hitting with his 13th home run of the season. And rookie Nick Delmonico extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Delmonico stung the ball into the right-center field gap three times. He was robbed of a double by Cain in the fifth inning, and robbed of a home run by Alex Gordon in the ninth inning.

Still too early to say whether Delmonico is going to stick in the majors, but he's been having consistent at-bats since he was called up from Triple-A Charlotte.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Alex Gordon agrees to four-year deal with Kansas City Royals

The defending champion Kansas City Royals moved Wednesday to retain a piece of their title-winning core, signing left fielder Alex Gordon to a four-year deal worth $72 million.

Gordon, 32, has spent his entire career with the Kansas City organization after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2005. Since his breakout campaign in 2011, he's posted a .281/.359/.450 slash line, won four Gold Gloves and been credited with 94 defensive runs saved -- second most among major league outfielders (Jason Heyward) during that time.

The White Sox reportedly were interested in Gordon, but according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the South Siders were not willing to give Gordon a fourth year on a contract.

It's unclear at this point whether Gordon was the Sox's "Plan A" in the outfield, or if he was a "Plan B" option. The team has been linked to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. It remains to be seen whether the Sox would be willing to give Cespedes, who is two years younger than Gordon, a four- or five-year deal.

As for the Royals, this move solidifies their status as favorites to defend their World Series title in 2016. Kansas City had four key free agents going into this offseason -- Gordon, Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist and Ryan Madson. The Royals retained only one of the four, but they kept the most important one in Gordon.

Kansas City has already replaced Madson with the earlier signing of Joakim Soria, and while Cueto and Zobrist are key losses, people have to remember those guys were nothing more than midseason acquisitions in 2015. The Royals were in first place and had the best record in the league long before they traded for Cueto and Zobrist. Those two were never core members of the team. Gordon was and is a key piece to their puzzle.

With Gordon making $18 million a year, it will be harder for the Royals to keep long-term other key players such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Wade Davis, all four of whom will hit free agency after the 2017 season.

But that's a problem for two years from now. With this move, the Royals are acting to keep their core together for as long as possible, and there is every reason to believe they will continue to be in the championship discussion for the next two years.

That's an issue for the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Some thoughts on the White Sox-Royals brawl

You can watch the video here if you haven't already seen the fracas between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

For the record, the Royals won the game, 3-2, in 13 innings, and for me as a Sox fan, that's the most frustrating part of the whole evening. The Sox have lost the last five head-to-head meetings with Kansas City, and 15 out of the last 18, dating back to last year.

The Sox cannot call themselves a contender if they're going to continue to allow Kansas City to walk in and kick their ass game after game and series after series. When is enough going to be enough?

The Royals are a good team; they got to the World Series last year for a reason, but let's not pretend they are some sort of juggernaut like the Yankees were in the late 1990s. Even in the loss last night, White Sox pitchers were able to keep the Royals off the scoreboard for 11 consecutive innings. What does that tell you? Kansas City is not some sort of elite fighting force that cannot be stopped. The Royals are beatable. The problem is more with the White Sox, who have developed an identity as a team that cannot execute in clutch situations and routinely beats itself.

That's what I'm mad about today as a Sox fan, much more than the fight.

But looking at the fight, it strikes me as bizarre that Adam Eaton is getting so much blame from Kansas City and its fans. Supposedly, Eaton "said something" to provoke Yordano Ventura, the Royals pitcher. I don't doubt that Eaton "said something," but whatever he said, the home plate umpire had to have heard it. He was standing right there; yet Eaton was not among the five players ejected from the game.

If Eaton had said something that inflammatory toward Ventura, don't you believe he would have been tossed? I do. The umpires seemingly had no reservations about sending the people who were in the wrong to the showers. Ventura, Edinson Volquez and Lorenzo Cain of the Royals were all rightfully ejected, as were Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale of the White Sox. I firmly believe Eaton would have been ejected if he had deserved an ejection. The umpire, who was standing right there when the whole thing went down, apparently did not see Eaton as the instigator.

I believe Eaton "said something" that was misconstrued by Ventura. That happens. It's part of the game. Both players were apologetic about the incident, and I think fans of both teams should be able to let that part of the brawl go without further discussion.

What went on after that was far more troubling. Cain and Samardzija were instigators. Both were way out of line, both in actions on the field and words after the game. We should expect better from two quality players who should be acting as leaders for their respective teams. I wouldn't be surprised if Samardzija gets the longest suspension of anyone involved in this fracas. As a Sox fan, I'm disappointed in him.

There's no excuse for throwing wild sucker punches on the field, and Volquez merits a lengthy suspension for his actions, as well. There's also no reason for Sale to be anywhere near the Kansas City clubhouse while the game is still going on.

It's time for the managers and the team leaders on both sides to get this nonsense under control, especially Kansas City, which has brawled with three different teams in the first 17 days of the season.

And from a White Sox perspective, it's long past time to man up and start beating the Royals, not with fists and purpose pitches, but rather by playing good baseball.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Zach Putnam: Can the White Sox trust him?

Zach Putnam was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable 2014 White Sox bullpen. We're not going to take that away from him.

The right-hander went 5-3 with a 1.98 ERA and allowed only 39 hits in 54.2 innings for the 2014 Sox. He totaled six saves, and most impressively, he stranded a team-record 89 percent (26 of 29) of his inherited runners last year. That's a solid season by any standard, especially for a pitcher who had been picked up off the scrap heap and didn't make the roster at the start of the year.

But despite the good numbers Putnam put up last season, I haven't yet been able to shake the idea that his 2014 performance was an aberration. After all, Putnam is a 26-year-old on his fourth organization. The other three teams he was with before he joined the Sox -- Cleveland, Colorado and the Cubs -- didn't give him many opportunities at the major league level, and he didn't do anything with the handful of chances he received.

In parts of three seasons with those three teams, Putnam appeared in 15 games, worked a total of 12.2 innings and posted a 8.53 ERA. You might say he profiles as a journeyman.

For the first time in his career, Putnam reported to camp this February with his major league roster spot secure based on his previous year's performance. He did not perform well in Cactus League play. He posted a 9.35 ERA and gave up four home runs in just 8.2 innings, increasing my suspicions that maybe last year was simply a career year for him.

People talk about sinkers not sinking and split-finger pitches not moving in the dry air of Arizona, and I'm sure that had some impact on Putnam's poor spring. However, it's no excuse for the flat sinker Putnam threw to Lorenzo Cain in the eighth inning Wednesday night in Kansas City. Or was that a splitter? Heck, it had so little movement on it that I don't even know what pitch it was.

What is clear is that, whatever it was, Cain crushed it over the left-field wall for a two-run homer that broke a 5-5 tie and lifted the Royals to a 7-5 victory over the White Sox.

The South Siders are now 0-2 with the loss. I'm not panicked tonight by any means, but I am asking myself whether the Sox can continue to trust Putnam with an eighth-inning role. When I look at his stuff and career profile, those 54.2 good innings from a year ago just aren't enough to convince me that he should be a high-leverage reliever on team that believes itself to be a contender.

It's worth noting that perhaps the Sox don't have any better options right now. They spent $46 million to bring in David Robertson to close games. OK, great, but with Jake Petricka and Nate Jones both on the disabled list, who is the best choice to be the right-handed setup man?

You're choosing among Putnam, Javy Guerra and Matt Albers. I can't say any of those options inspire me, and that's one of the holes on this Sox roster right now. The team needs somebody to step up and join left-hander Zach Duke as part of the bridge between the starting staff and Robertson.

The Sox are giving Putnam first crack at that job, but I can't get past the sinking feeling that Putnam is going to pitch himself out of that role and cost the Sox some more games in the process.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Will Chris Sale's hiccup against the Royals cost him the Cy Young?

White Sox ace Chris Sale had his worst performance of the season Wednesday night, as he allowed a season-high five earned runs on nine hits over five innings in Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Just how big of an outlier was this outing for Sale? Consider this: He's thrown 668.2 innings in his major league career, and he had never given up a home run on an 0-2 pitch until Lorenzo Cain took a hanging slider out the park for a 3-run shot in the third inning Wednesday night.

Sale gave up a second home run on a similarly lousy pitch to light-hitting Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar in the fourth inning.

It's extremely rare for Sale to give up home runs to any Kansas City hitter. No Royals player had taken Sale deep since Aug. 17, 2012, a span of eight starts.

Indeed, this was an out-of-character start for Sale, and it might have cost him whatever chance he had of beating out Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award. The two pitchers are statistically similar in a lot of categories:
  • Sale is 12-4 in 25 starts; Hernandez is 14-5 in 31 starts.
  • Hernandez leads the league in ERA at 2.14; Sale is right behind at 2.20.
  • Hernandez has 225 strikeouts; Sale has 198.
  • Sale leads the league with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings; Hernandez is at 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
  • Hernandez leads the league with a 0.918 WHIP; Sale is right behind at 0.958.
  • Sale's strikeout-to-walk ratio is 5.50; Hernandez is at 5.49.
Sale was ahead of Hernandez in both ERA and WHIP until his struggling outing against the Royals, which lessens his case. If Sale were to finish ahead of Hernandez in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio, I think you could make a strong argument he deserves the Cy Young. But, with one poor performance by Sale, Hernandez has nosed back in front in two of those four important categories -- pending his outing Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels.

I'm pretty certain Hernandez is going to win the Cy Young at this point. If all things are fairly equal, he's going to get the nod because he's made six more starts and pitched 51 more innings than Sale this year. That stint on the disabled list Sale had in late April and early May probably costs him more than one crummy outing in September against Kansas City, but last night's showing did not help his argument.