Beckham's big day leads Sox past Indians

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Beckham's big day leads Sox past Indians

Gordon Beckham snapped out of a slump with three hits and the Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2 on Tuesday.Beckham was mired in 0-for-10 slide and was batting just .153 before he belted a solo homer in the third to give Chicago a 2-1 lead on a rainy, overcast night at U.S. Cellular Field. He also singled in a run in the fifth.A.J. Pierzynski also had a solo homer for Chicago, which is 3-0 against Cleveland this season. Chris Sale (3-1) allowed one run and three hits in six crisp innings.Shelley Duncan connected for Cleveland, snapping the team's 11-game homerless streak.Steady rain postponed the start by 56 minutes but storms had passed through by early evening and the game started under cloudy, but dry conditions.Beckham sparked a four-run inning with his leadoff drive on a 3-1 pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez. Paul Konerko made it 3-1 with a bases-loaded walk, Alex Rios drove in a run with a fielder's choice and Dayan Viciedo had an RBI infield single.Jimenez (2-2) issued six walks in 4 2-3 innings, and was charged with seven runs, four earned, and eight hits.Duncan hit a solo drive off Will Ohman in the seventh. He also doubled and scored on Jason Kipnis' two-out double in the second, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead.Pierzynski then hit his fifth homer in the bottom half, driving an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right.The Indians loaded the bases in the ninth, but Hector Santiago got Lou Marson to ground out to end the game.Duncan and Kipnis each had two hits for the Tribe.New Cleveland outfielder Johnny Damon joined the team in Chicago on Tuesday and is likely to be in Wednesday's lineup."The plan was for him to spend a day with his teammates here, take batting practice and then start the game tomorrow," Indians manager Manny Acta said.The Indians announced they had purchased Damon's contract on Tuesday and made roster room by designating infielder Jose Lopez for assignment.Now in his 18th major league season, Damon has 2,723 hits and a .286 career batting average. He is ranked third among active players in runs scored (1,643).The 38-year-old Damon, who signed with the Indians last month, has spent the last few weeks at the club's facility in Goodyear, Ariz.NOTES:
Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (1-2, 5.48 ERA) is scheduled to pitch Wednesday's Game 2 against Philip Humber (1-1, 4.66 ERA). Humber threw a perfect game on April 21 against Seattle and was the loser in a 10-3 setback against Boston last week. ... Tuesday's game was the first of 15 consecutive games against the AL Central for the White Sox. ... Following Thursday's series finale, the teams will not meet again until Sept. 24 in Chicago. They're scheduled play each other six of the season's final 10 games.

White Sox catcher Kevan Smith has a ball after drawing first career walk

White Sox catcher Kevan Smith has a ball after drawing first career walk

Rookie Kevan Smith wanted his first career walk in the worst possible way on Tuesday night.

The White Sox catcher was so intent upon ending a lengthy walk drought to start his career that he determined to lean in against one of the hardest throwers in the league.

Ahead 3-0 in the count with one out in the ninth inning against New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Smith inched closer to the plate. The four-pitch walk Smith drew in career plate appearance No. 130 not only ended the second longest walk-less streak to start a career since 1990, it also jumpstarted a game-winning White Sox rally. Smith was afforded plenty of time to enjoy the moment, too, as manager Rick Renteria immediately pulled him for a pinch runner.

“Oh yeah (I knew),” Smith said. “One hundred percent. I got way on the plate and was like, ‘You’re either going to hit me or walk me’ because I’m not letting this one slide. I’ve been to a few 3-0 counts, but finally got the first one out of the way. Everybody was laughing at me.

“It was a celebratory thing. I got to come off the field on my first one.”

Smith’s moment was worthy of a celebration.

Whereas Tim Anderson’s base on balls-free stretch to start his career got a ton of notoriety in 2016, Smith’s received almost none despite the fact that he soared past Anderson. A highly touted rookie known for his aggressive approach at the plate, people kept close tabs on Anderson’s stretch when he went 85 plate appearances without a walk to start his career. But Smith eclipsed that mark with a strikeout in his lone trip to the plate on June 9. It wasn’t until 44 plate appearances later that Smith could walk the walk.

Since 1990, only Jeff Francouer had gone longer among all major leaguers when he didn’t draw a free pass until his 131 plate appearance in 2005. Smith tied the Yankees’ Oscar Azocar (who walked in his 130th trip in 1990) when he ended the seventh inning with a strikeout against New York starting pitcher Luis Severino.

Other notable White Sox players with lengthy walk-less streaks to start their careers include: Jeff Abbott (84, 1997-98), Dayan Viciedo (83, 2010) and Josh Phegley (83, 2013).

“Dang,” Anderson said with a smile. “Nobody made a big deal about his though.”

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Similar to Anderson, Smith has always been fairly aggressive at the plate. His career walk-rate in the minor leagues is 8.7 percent (195 in 2,229 plate appearances). But that aggression hasn’t prevented Smith from finding offensive success during his third stint in the majors. After going 5-for-42 to start his career, Smith has heated up, hitting .313/.322/.422 with six doubles, one home run and eight RBIs in his last 87 plate appearances.

“The more at-bats he gets up here it's natural to start getting a little more comfortable,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's certainly showing that he's able to do a few things at the plate. He's handling at-bats more a little more calmly.”

The calmer demeanor has helped Smith stick to an approach in which he has confidence. In seven minor league seasons, Smith carried a .285/.361/.449 slash line. He believes staying with what works will be the key to whether or not he can continue to perform.

“I think what makes guys successful up here is they stick to their approach,” Smith said. “I always use (Joe) Mauer as an example. He stays so true to his approach and looks for what he wants to hit that it’s almost frustrating as a catcher and a pitcher. But there’s a reason he’s been around for so long and I’m envious of what he does in the box. I’m just going to keep trying to get as comfortable as I can and strive for that approach each game and each at-bat.”

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

The White Sox said all along they were confident Jose Quintana would rebound and now that he has no seems the least bit surprised.

Quintana provided yet another round of proof that he’s far removed from those May woes when he silenced the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. While the left-hander earned a no decision, he was rewarded when the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana finished June with a 1.78 ERA.

“We have a very good relationship, very good communication,” teammate Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “When (Quintana) was passing through that, the first two months, I let him know, just keep your confidence, don’t hesitate, do your job, keep working hard because we have confidence in you. Now he’s just showing us what he’s capable of doing and doing what he’s been doing his whole career. We’re glad he’s the same Jose Quintana he’s been the last couple of years.”

Quintana has gone from a period where many of his mistakes got hit to a spot where he’s been borderline untouchable. He limited the second-best offense in the American League to two hits and four walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday. With good fastball command and a sharp curve, Quintana had New York hitters out of whack.

This is a much different pitcher than the one who was tagged by the Boston Red Sox on May 30, an outing after which he said he was embarrassed. Since losing to Boston, Quintana has lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.37. In that span, Quintana has allowed 21 hits and six earned runs with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

“Sometime bad games are going to happen,” Quintana said. “But when it happens, I go check the video to see if I’m doing something wrong and try to make adjustments. But I feel pretty good and I have my confidence high and for me I turn the page and focus on the next one.”

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The 2016 All-Star thrived in the few instances when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He struck out Tyler Austin with two men in scoring position to end the fourth inning and erased a leadoff walk in the fifth with an Austin Romine double play. After Quintana surrendered a two-out double to Judge in the sixth inning, he got Sanchez to pop out to strand the tying run.

Quintana only threw strikes on 55 of 101 pitches on Tuesday. But, of those 55, 10 were swings and misses.

“It's just been him commanding the zone, attacking,” manager Rick Renteria said. “A lot more strikes. He still had some at-bats today where he got to 3-2, but then he'd execute, he'd finish and make a pitch that induced a very weak fly ball or groundballs. That's who he is, I mean you all have seen him like this before. For us it's just seeing him get back to who he's always been.”