Bullpen falters in Youk's return to Boston

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Bullpen falters in Youk's return to Boston

BOSTON --- Kevin Youkilis returned to Fenway Park in a big way on Monday night. Unfortunately for the White Sox, so did Adrian Gonzalez.

The slugger hit his first home run since June 24 --- the same day Youkilis was traded to the White Sox --- to power the Boston Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the White Sox in front of 38,334 at Fenway.

Gonzalezs three-run, opposite-field blast against left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo (0-1) spoiled a warm and fuzzy homecoming for Youkilis and evened the White Sox record at 2-2 on this 10-game road trip.

Septimo entered a game tied at 1 in the seventh inning and stranded a runner when he got Jacoby Ellsbury to pop out.

But the rookie walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning --- Carl Crawford and David Ortiz --- before he fell behind Gonzalez 2-1 in the count. His 93-mph fastball caught too much of the plate and Gonzalez deposited his first home run in 66 at-bats over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

Youkilis return wasnt quite as impactful, but had a fairy tale feel throughout.

Cheers and Youk chants began for the White Sox third baseman 20 minutes before first pitch when he hit the field to warm up.

They continued as he stood in the on-deck circle in the first inning and the largest Red Sox crowd of the year erupted in a standing ovation when Youkilis stepped into the batters box to face Aaron Cook.

Youkilis stepped out, raised his helmet and paused for 30-to-45 seconds before he began his at-bat, which ended with a single to center. The veteran then displayed the heady style that made him popular with Red Sox Nation when he took advantage of the shift against Adam Dunn. Dunn hit a slow chopper to second and with nobody covering third, Youkilis cruised over. Gonzalez saw Youkilis advance and attempted an ill-advised lob that went for a run-scoring error.

Youkilis doubled in his next two at-bats but struck out against Vicente Padilla (3-0) with the game tied at 1 to end the top of the eighth inning.

Three days after he threw 31 pitches in a win at Kansas City, White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod showed no signs of rust against the Red Sox.

Per the norm, the young right-hander struggled in the first inning. He allowed three straight one-out singles with Adrian Gonzalezs tying the game at 1.

In nine first innings, including relief appearances, Axelrod has allowed nine earned runs for a 9.00 ERA. But Axelrods struggles end there as he has a 3.26 ERA in his 47 other innings pitched.

True to form, Axelrod settled down. He struck out Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the first inning and was magnificent from there.

He set down 11 of 12 batters and 17 of the last 21 he faced.

Axelrod struck out the side in the fourth inning and tied a career-high with eight strikeouts.

Those efforts were matched, however, by Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. Cook was efficient and needed only 97 pitches to limit the White Sox to an unearned run and five hits in seven innings.

White Sox Avisail Garcia out but maybe not for long

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White Sox Avisail Garcia out but maybe not for long

BALTIMORE -- Early indications are that Avisail Garcia has avoided serious injury.

The White Sox outfielder may not play again until Tuesday with a right hamstring strain, but as of now he isn’t headed for the disabled list.

Garcia is out of action for Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles and likely Sunday as well to rest a hamstring he tweaked on the final play of Friday’s loss. The White Sox also are off Monday, which would give Garcia three days to rest before he could potentially return at home against the Boston Red Sox. Jerry Sands is starting in Garcia’s place as the team’s designated hitter.

“It’s a little tight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t think it’s a DL situation there, but he definitely did something going down the line there. Get Sandsy in there and stay away from Avi tonight and reassess it tomorrow. He seems confident it’s not going to linger too long.”

This is the second time Garcia has injured his hamstring in his career. He also suffered one in 2012 while at High-A Lakeland. Garcia tested his hamstring Saturday and determined he’d be out of action, though he feels better with early treatment.

“When I started running, I tried to put 100 percent, and then I started feeling it,” Garcia said. “When I jumped, that’s when I feel it the most. But it’s nothing serious. I feel a little bit pain, a little bit tight, but I can move my leg. I don’t want it to get worse. I just want to get the treatment today and tomorrow and we have a day off on Monday. So let’s see how I feel on Tuesday, hopefully ready though.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for Garcia, who had begun to find his stroke. Garcia has displayed more confidence on this trip than he has all season and had gone 8-for-18 with a double, triple, homer and four RBIs and two walks. The spurt has helped Garcia raise his average by 79 points to .214.

Ventura said he’s just glad the injury doesn’t seem too serious after three White Sox players hit the DL earlier in the week.

“You can’t plan for that stuff,” Ventura said. “It’s a good sign to see he’s swinging the bat and doing that. You just take care of him, get him healthy and keep back at it. You can’t ever plan, no matter what you just keep playing. For him it’s more confidence that he has of what he’s doing right now that he can keep.”

Avisail Garcia tweaks hamstring late in White Sox loss

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Avisail Garcia tweaks hamstring late in White Sox loss

BALTIMORE — Avisail Garcia could be the latest member of the White Sox afflicted by an injury.

The White Sox designated hitter tweaked his right hamstring late in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles and will be re-evaluated Saturday. Earlier in the day, the White Sox placed reliever Daniel Webb on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow flexor inflammation. That comes after catcher Alex Avila and Kevan Smith also went on the DL earlier in the week.

“He looked like he twinged something in his hammy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But everybody seems to be having something, so we’ll re evaluate and see him tomorrow.”

Garcia tweaked his right leg on the final play of the game as he tried to avoid the tag of Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. An injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Garcia, who tripled in a run in the second inning to keep a hot streak alive. Garcia is 8-for-18 on the road trip with four RBIs and has raised his average from .135 to .214.

Uncharacteristic mistakes on defense hurt White Sox in 6-3 loss vs. O's

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Uncharacteristic mistakes on defense hurt White Sox in 6-3 loss vs. O's

BALTIMORE — The White Sox haven’t given away many games this season, but Friday’s effort flooded the memory banks with ghosts of errors past.

Whereas sloppy play was omnipresent in 2015, clean baseball has been king for the White Sox and their hot start this season. But the White Sox defense hurt Carlos Rodon with two errors in the fifth inning and Nolan Reimold’s three-run home run got him later as the Baltimore Orioles sent the White Sox to a 6-3 loss in front of 19,912 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Reimold’s seventh-inning, opposite-field homer off Rodon broke a 3-all tie and led to a second straight White Sox loss. The White Sox are 3-2 on their seven-game trip with Mat Latos and Chris Sale scheduled to start their final two games.

“We just didn’t play good defense behind him,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We didn’t glove it very well, which is uncharacteristic of us. Bad night with the glove.”

The White Sox entered Friday’s game third in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, according to fangraphs.com.

While defensive metrics are hardly perfect, they at least give an indication of just how good the White Sox defense has been this season.

Last season, the White Sox were at or near the bottom among all 30 teams in both measures.

But this year’s sure-handed group has turned things around.

The steady play has been there on a consistent basis since spring training. The White Sox have made both routine and spectacular plays alike. Giving away outs and making pitchers work harder is a thing of the past.

Yet the defense sidetracked Rodon’s gem in the fifth inning Friday night and he never fully recovered.

While Rodon pointed to a leadoff walk he issued to Adam Jones in the fifth as the cause of his troubles, he did more than enough to get out of the frame with a 1-0 White Sox lead intact. With Jones aboard, Rodon induced a potential double play ball, but second baseman Brett Lawrie booted it and the Orioles had runners on the corners with no outs. Todd Frazier eliminated Jones on a rundown on the next play, however, as the runner got too far off the bag on J.J. Hardy’s grounder to third. But Baltimore kept the rally alive with an infield single by Reimold to load the bases and a two-run single by Jonathan Schoop.

Rodon looked like he got out of the jam again when he induced another grounder off Joey Rickard’s bat. But Jimmy Rollins slipped on his relay throw, which went into the stands and allowed the Orioles to pull ahead 3-1. The lead may have been larger had it not been for a perfect throw home by Adam Eaton to nail Rickard on Manny Machado’s two-out single.

“There’s not much you can do,” Rodon said. “When you walk the leadoff guy, that’s on me. It can’t happen. It’s a different inning if I don’t walk that leadoff guy. Say I get him out, and it’s a different, 1-2-3 inning. Those guys are trying as hard as they can. Those are the best players out there.”

Both Rodon and the White Sox offense responded nicely after the fifth.

The White Sox scored runs in the sixth and seventh innings as Jose Abreu singled in a run and Lawrie homered off Orioles reliever Brad Brach to tie it. The White Sox could have had more, but Jones thwarted a sixth-inning rally when he raced in to catch Melky Cabrera’s bases-loaded liner and fired a perfect one-hop throw home to nail Rollins for the final out.

Rodon then needed only eight pitches to get through the middle of Baltimore’s lineup in the sixth. But the Orioles jumped on him in the seventh with singles by Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy. Reimold then drove a first-pitch fastball from Rodon out to put the Orioles ahead for good.

The left-handed had been on cruise control for the game’s first four innings, using a strong slider to efficiently keep the Orioles under wraps. Rodon needed 55 pitches and had only allowed an opposite-field single as the White Sox led 1-0.

While alarmists might be concerned the team’s hot start is mirage and more sloppy play is on the way, Frazier said not to worry. The third baseman believes the White Sox had an off night on a sloppy field and clean play will once again reign supreme.

“It happens,” Frazier said. “Nothing you can do about it. We came back and tied it up. Rodon pitched a hell of a game, just that one inning. Things could have a different way here or there, but those mistakes will happen. We’re still good defensively, no problems there.

“It’s just the way it goes.”