With break over, Sale feeling prepared for stretch run

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With break over, Sale feeling prepared for stretch run

It's been 10 days since Chris Sale's last start, in which he allowed five runs in 6 13 innings as his velocity continued to drop in Texas. On Monday, he'll make his return to the White Sox rotation, and he's confident the break has done him some good.

"It's nice to be able to do it now so the last couple months we can really make a push and nothing like this will hopefully come up again," Sale said Sunday. "We can just go through these two months every fifth day or whatever they have now for us, make a good push these last couple months and put all this stuff behind us."

The hope is that Sale's fastball velocity will return to to the 92 mph range it's averaged this season. But if it doesn't, that's not going to stop Sale from pitching through it.

"Like I said before, if it's there, cool," Sale said of his normal velocity. "If not, you've still got to pitch. It doesn't matter how hard it's going. Just whatever it is, you've still got to make pitches and get outs. Whether it's hard, soft, slow, in, out, up, whatever. You've got to get outs somehow."

Sale has thrown 124 innings this season and is nearing his 2010 cumulative total of 133 23, which was compiled in college with Florida Gulf Coast and in professional ball with two minor-league affiliates and the White Sox. But Sale had an extended break that year and pitched exclusively out of the bullpen after turning pro.

In his first year as a starter, Sale figured he'd run into a velocity dip as his innings continued to pile up.

"I didn't expect myself to be throwing hard the entire season, especially later on getting into August and September," Sale said. "But for right now, it's just finding a way. Whatever I've got on a given day, you've got to go out there and keep pitching, You can't get down on yourself on days where you might not have your best stuff."

The White Sox won't have Sale on a pitch count Monday, which shouldn't come as a surprise given he's thrown 100 or more pitches in 13 of his 18 starts.

"Its just more of how hes feeling, being able to talk to him and communicate," manager Robin Ventura said. "He says hes feeling fine and ready to go."

With under two months left in the season and the White Sox employing a six-man rotation, Sale doesn't expect to be given another 10-day break between now and October. But until this season is over, Sale's status will be monitored extremely closely.

"We haven't talked about anything like that," Sale said of getting more extended rest. "We'll see. I don't want to sit here and tell you I can and then something freakish happens. At the same time, I don't want to sit here and say I can't because I want to and believe I can. It's something we'll be on top of to the end and we'll see where it takes us."

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”