Chicago White Sox

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Four White Sox went deep on Saturday afternoon, including Mike Pelfrey.

The starting pitcher’s six innings pitched is tied for his longest outing of the season. Pelfrey provided the White Sox with only their fifth quality start in 25 games to propel them to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 47,171 at the Rogers Centre. Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu all homered for the White Sox, who won for the sixth time in eight tries.

“Nice job by Pelf today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Threw a lot of strikes. Obviously threw his breaking ball very effectively, kept it down below the zone. His change of speed was definitely a big factor. Used his fastball when he needed to. Thought he worked ahead and was able to get out of a little traffic.

“I think that’s his best start for us to date.”

While the offense provided several rounds of fireworks, Pelfrey did the rest. Though the White Sox have limited his innings total, the veteran right-hander has provided them with about all they could ask for a player who signed a minor-league contract on April 8.

While he narrowly avoided a big inning in the second, Pelfrey was otherwise outstanding against Toronto. He recorded perfect innings in the first, third, fourth and fifth and also faced the minimum in the sixth after inducing a double play off Josh Donaldson’s bat.

Pelfrey nearly relinquished a 2-0 lead in the second inning when he yielded three hits. But Ryan Goins’ two-out double to deep center with two aboard bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Pelfrey then stranded a pair when he got Luke Maile to ground out.

Pelfrey allowed a run and four hits in six innings while striking out five. He lowered his earned run-average to 3.56 in the process.

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“The sinker was good, had good sink,” Pelfrey said. “The curveball was maybe the best it has been, which is refreshing because the start before it was probably the worst it has been. The slider was good too, and the split I thought was good. I had all four pitches working, and the guys behind me made some plays and they hit some balls at guys, and it ended up a good day.”

Tommy Kahnle also delivered a big performance for the White Sox. Kahnle took over in the seventh with a 3-2 lead and two men aboard and induced an inning-ending double play. Kahnle returned for the eighth and struck out two giving him 48 on the season with only six walks.

“(The double play) was huge because they had the go-ahead run at what, first?” Kahnle said. “They had the tying run at second. I was coming in there just doing what I normally do, trying to get ahead — even though I got behind early — I was trying to get Goins to get that double play ball. It worked out for us.”

The White Sox offense continued to provide its pitchers early runs.

Frazier blasted a 427-foot shot off Marcus Stroman with one out in the second inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Davidson followed with his fifth homer of the week to put the White Sox up by two runs.

Abreu put the White Sox back up two with a solo shot in the sixth inning, his first homer since May 24. The White Sox scored a run in the eighth on Donaldson’s second error of the game and added one in the ninth on a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze by Yolmer Sanchez.

“I thought I was going to have to be pretty good because the guy on the other side, Stroman, is pretty dang good,” Pelfrey said. “Luckily, he made a couple of mistakes, and the boys took advantage of them. He’s pretty tough, but we were able to come out on top.”

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

The White Sox are fairly encouraged about Reynaldo Lopez’s progress and hopeful he returns soon to the mound.

Manager Rick Renteria said before Monday’s doubleheader that Lopez, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained back, said he has increasingly felt better. Lopez went on the DL on Saturday, two days after he made his second start since being promoted to the majors. The right-hander played catch in the outfield on Monday. Renteria also noted that Yoan Moncada would play in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader but he would sit out the second contest to rest his shin splints.

“He’s doing very, very well,” Renteria said of Lopez. “I ask him every day. (Sunday) night before we got off (the plane) he said he’s feeling much, much better. Now it’s a matter of where he’s at, and what we start doing with him activity wise before we he gets back in the rotation.

“This is a temporary thing.”

Similar to Moncada in July, Lopez is the first heralded prospect on the pitching side to appear in the majors. He had a strong debut against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 11, allowing two earned runs and striking out six in six innings. Lopez struggled in his second start, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against Texas before he exited. He struck out six and walked four batters before complaining of soreness on his side.

“There’s nothing that’s going to hold this young man back,” Renteria said. “The disappointment is more that he can’t get back out there every five days right, not in terms of his performance. He’s done pretty well. It’s just that he can’t be out there right now. Once he’s healed up he’s going to be fine and be out there every five days.”

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

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USA TODAY

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

Put the shift on against Nicky Delmonico and he’s going to drop down a bunt to beat you.

The White Sox rookie has tried his solution for shift-happy defenses already three times this season and it’s worked in each instance.

And while its undoubtedly the long ball -- he’s hit five home runs -- that has caught everyone’s attention during the White Sox rookie’s unbelievable start, don’t overlook the little things, especially Delmonico’s ability to bunt for a hit and the impact it’s had on opposing defenses.

Whenever opponents try to employ a shift, and they’ve done it more often this season, Delmonico has shown no fear in trying to beat them with a bunt down the third-base line.

He bunted for a single in Sunday’s win when he reached base three times to bring his on-base percentage to .451 through 71 plate appearances. There’s no question that forcing defenses to play him straight up is partly responsible for Delmonico reaching base safely in 15 of 17 games to start his major league career.

“It opens up a hole,” Delmonico said. “There’s been a lot of times in Charlotte where you hit a hard ground ball through the four hole and think it’s a hit, but then there’s a guy deep in right field. You want those (to be hits). Any time you can take advantage of bunting and show you can bunt they’ll move out of the shift.”

Take a look at Delmonico’s spray chart and it’ll tell you he’s pull-happy. He’s pulled 47.9 percent of all balls put in play since reaching the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. Were he to be qualified for a batting title, Delmonico would currently be 15th in pull percentage in baseball, easily within range of leader Salvador Perez’s 54.6 percent.

Either way, Delmonico’s spray chart is the type that often leads defenses to load up three gloves on the right side of the infield no matter the count (teams tend to shift to a hitter’s pull side most often with two strikes).

But Delmonico has made them think twice --- at least early in the count.

“Any time I see them all over that’s when it’s the best time to lay one down,” Delmonico said. “You’ve just got to get it past the pitcher and fair.”

You also have to catch the attention of advance scouts. Based on the way he’s been defended so far, hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks opponents have taken notice of Delmonico’s skills.

“It’s got to be in their notes,” Steverson said. “It’s got to be in their data: “This guy will bunt.” Even just the words “he will bunt” keeps somebody close for a minute before they move to another spot. If you have none, then they don’t have to do nothing.

“They want to play him in the full shift. That’s what they did to him from the get-go. He dropped two bunts down on them and said ‘Ok.’ ”

Delmonico said he’s seen an increased number of shifts since reached Triple-A two years ago.

“But it was all different kinds of shifts,” Delmonico said. “Very rarely I would see them all over until two strikes.”

Delmonico works on bunting the same as anyone else. There’s the round he takes each day at the start of batting practice each day. And every few weeks or so, Charlotte brought out the pitching machine.

But what may make him standout are his confidence and conviction. While Delmonico realizes he may be taking the potential for extra bases out of his hands for one at-bat, he’s knows he’s still giving himself a chance to jumpstart a rally and he’s creating a world of opportunities for the rest of his trips to the plate.

“I feel like they’re pretty good,” Delmonico said. “I’ve worked a lot on it the last two years because I know eventually they will shift and to get that hole open you’ve got to prove to them that you will bunt.

“Overall it helps you out and two, it gives you a chance to get on base and get going. That’s the biggest thing for me.”