Mike Pelfrey falters again as three Angels homers bury White Sox

Mike Pelfrey falters again as three Angels homers bury White Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rick Renteria didn’t shy away from the blame for Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

The White Sox manager could see that his starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, had begun to wear down in the fifth inning. Ahead by three runs, Renteria had the pieces in place to make a move to try and keep his team in the lead. But instead of listening to his instincts, Renteria went with his heart and stayed with Pelfrey.

Six pitches later, the lead had vanished. Fifth-inning home runs by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout off Pelfrey gave the Angels everything they needed to send the White Sox to a 5-3 loss in front of 29,445 at Angel Stadium. The White Sox, who opened a 10-game road trip at Anaheim, have lost seven of their last nine games.

“I thought Pelf gave us a nice four-plus innings,” Renteria said. “Really, he gave us enough to do what we needed to do. I had those guys out there ready to pick him up, and I didn’t. I went against my better judgment. We had (Dan Jennings) ready for Calhoun, and we had our righty ready. So that’s not any of their faults but mine. At least it would have given us a better chance. I couldn’t guarantee that the outcome would have been what we wanted, but I think the matchups would have been better, and pretty much that’s it.”

Most of Pelfrey’s starts have gone exactly the same way. He looks outstanding through his first three or four innings before he struggles in the middle. Pelfrey entered Monday’s start with a .200 average against in his first two trips the lineup (13-for-65).

Pelfrey followed that format to a T on Monday as he retired the side in order in the first, third and fourth innings. He allowed a pair of runners with one out in the second inning but pitched out of the jam.

Pelfrey’s strong start allowed the White Sox a chance to get ahead by three runs. Jose Abreu blasted a two-run homer in the fourth inning, and Tyler Saladino tripled in a run in the fifth.

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But Pelfrey couldn’t sustain. He said a series of full counts earlier in the game (Pelfrey threw 74 pitches through four innings) finally caught up to him in the fifth. Pelfrey issued one-out walks to Cam Maybin and Danny Espinosa. Martin Maldonado followed with a deep drive to left, but Melky Cabrera tracked it down for the second out.

With Jennings warm in the bullpen, Renteria opted to leave Pelfrey in to face Calhoun, who was 0-for-2. Calhoun ripped a 1-0 fastball out to right for a game-tying, three-run shot. Four pitches later, Trout hammered a 1-2 changeup to put Los Angeles ahead.

Batters facing Pelfrey the third time through the lineup are now 9-for-12 this season.

“You want to get that guy through it,” Renteria said. “All season long we've done the opposite, not worried about the individual, more worried about the team. Bottom line today is I went against the team concept and did something for the player. And it bit us in the butt. These guys have been playing very, very hard. There is no way to clean that up, no way to make an excuse. None whatsoever. Everybody should be extremely upset. I'm upset. Tomorrow is another day.”

Pelfrey wasn’t pleased with himself, either.

He took no solace in the fact he kept the Angels in check for four innings. He exited after the Trout homer having allowed four earned runs, three hits and walking three in 4.2 innings.

Neither Pelfrey nor rookie Dylan Covey has completed six innings in a start this season. It’s one reason the White Sox promoted reliever Gregory Infante on Monday, to help with the workload. Infante pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. The team could carry an eight-man bullpen into the foreseeable future, Renteria said.

“Pretty frustrated,” Pelfrey said. “Pretty disappointed. Pretty tough to swallow after getting the 3-0 lead and giving it right back. It sucks. It sucks.

“I thought I was 3-2 on everybody and a lot of pitches and killed the bullpen again, which sucks. You can’t get deep in the game when you’re 3-2 on everybody. Pitches rack up pretty fast. Pretty crappy all the way and disappointing. I really don’t know what to say.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox have offloaded more pieces in the past eight months than that furniture store that always seems to be going out of business.

Everything. Must. Go.

Even so, the team hasn’t found any takers for veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who finished with four hits in Saturday night’s 7-2 White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals. Cabrera finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs. That Cabrera still resides on the South Side is a surprise to White Sox manager Rick Renteria.

“Honestly yeah, to be honest,” Renteria said. “To me he’s a premier Major League baseball player who has been playing outstanding defense. And he has been for us one of the two or three guys who has been timing his hitting in terms of driving in runs when we need them, putting together really good at-bats when we need them. Just playing the game. Yeah, kind of surprised.”

Despite making their intentions known that everyone short of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon are available, Cabrera’s name has barely registered a blip on the radar when it comes to trade rumors.

Several factors have probably prevented Cabrera from being dealt, the biggest being his salary. Cabrera is still owed roughly $6.3 million of his $15 million salary, which makes him an expensive option.

Defensive metrics also don’t have much love for Cabrera despite his eight outfield assists. Cabrera’s lack of range has produced minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.7 Ultimate Zone Rating.

Those figures likely would like have teams lean toward making Cabrera a designated hitter. While he’s been one of the team’s most consistent and prominent offensive performers, Cabrera’s .786 ranks only about 38th in the American League.

As FanRag’s Jon Heyman noted earlier Saturday, to trade Cabrera the White Sox would likely have to eat most of the outfielder’s remaining salary.

Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Only six years after they had the “best farm system of all time,” the Kansas City Royals see a bright future ahead for the upstart White Sox.

Several current Kansas City players who graduated from that farm system and led the Royals to a 2015 World Series title and manager Ned Yost all said they’re intrigued by how quickly the White Sox have built up their minor league talent.

Through four major trades and the signing of international free agent Luis Robert, the White Sox boast a system that features 10 top-10 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. Baseball America ranks eight White Sox prospects in their top 100. While the system isn’t yet ready to compete with the 2011 Royals for the unofficial title of best ever, it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

“Have you seen what they’ve gotten back from tearing it down?” Yost said. “MLB ranks the top 100 prospects. Most teams have one or two. I don’t think we have any. They have 10. They’ve done a phenomenal job of restocking their system with incredibly talented young players.”

Not everything is identical between how these organizations built their farms.

The Royals headed into 2011 with nine top-100 prospects and five in the top 20 alone (Eric Hosmer 8, Mike Moustakas 9, Wil Myers 10, John Lamb 18, Mike Montgomery 19). The Kansas City Star in 2016 reviewed the best-ranked systems of all-time and determined by a point value system (100 points for the No. 1 prospect and one point for the No. 100 prospect) that the 2011 club was better than all others with 574 points.

But that group was the byproduct of a painstaking stretch in which the Royals averaged 96 losses from 2004-12. The slower path taken by Kansas City allowed its young core to develop and learn how to play together in the minors. As pitcher Danny Duffy noted, “we went to the playoffs every year.”

They won at Rookie-Burlington, Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha took home three titles. Working together was a big key to the team’s success at the major league level, said catcher Salvador Perez.

“We didn’t come from different teams,” Perez said. “We all came from here. We had a young team together. We learned how to win and win in the big leagues.

“We learned how to win together, play together and play for the team. It was really important.”

The only time the Royals didn’t win was at Advance-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, Duffy said.

“You learn how success feels and how some failure feels,” Duff said. “We lost in Wilmington and you would have thought the world was coming to an end.”

According to the Star, the Royals haven’t had much recent competition for the best system. Until now.

The 2006 Diamondbacks accrued 541 points and the 2000 Florida Marlins had 472. The 2015 Cubs scored 450 points.

After the addition of Blake Rutherford on Tuesday (the No. 36 prospect on BA’s current top 100 list), the White Sox have 483 points. But the 2017 Atlanta Braves are even better with 532 points, the third-highest total of all-time.

The White Sox farm system has created excitement among the fan base that had wavered in recent years. Not everyone is on board, but the majority seems to be and that can create hysteria.

“We had people at the games who were super excited about the wave of prospects,” Duffy said. “Obviously they have a stacked system over there, very similar to what we had coming up. There was a lot of excitement. It was crazy.”

But excitement didn’t immediately translate into victories. Though a fair amount of the 2011 class graduated to the majors by later that season, the Royals didn’t get on track in the big leagues for a few years.

It wasn’t until the second half of 2013 that the Royals got going. The 2014 club ended a 29-year playoff drought with a wild-card berth that led to an American League pennant. They followed that up with a World Series title in 2015. Had it not been for a Herculean effort by Madison Bumgarner, Kansas City might have had consecutive titles.

Still, getting there takes time.

“The first thing you had to do was get them here,” Yost said. “Experience has taught me that it’s generally 2 1/2 years before they can get to a point where they can compete. They just have to gain that experience at the major league level because it’s definitely a much more difficult style of play up here. The talent is just so incredibly good that it takes a while for talent or players to adjust to where they’re productive. It just takes time then being able to go out and play every single day.”

Even though that means the White Sox will experience difficult times the next few years, Duffy and Co. think it’s worth the wait. While Duffy imagines losing Jose Quintana and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier isn’t fun, he has a good sense what is headed this direction.

“Losing Quintana stings, but they got a king’s ransom back,” Duffy said. “It’s the way of the game. But they’re going to have a really good time in the next few years.”