Sox clobber Indians, win fourth straight

773494.png

Sox clobber Indians, win fourth straight

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com contributor

Not even the pitcher with the best ERA in the American League could slow down the White Sox offense.

Sparked by a career-high five RBIs from Dayan Viciedo, Chicago rocked starter Derek Lowe in a 14-7 victory over Cleveland on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox had season highs in runs and hits (17).

The Sox, who clinched its third consecutive series victory, won for the eighth time in nine games and extended their home run streak to 12 games. They scored four runs in each of the first, third and seventh innings, then added two in the eighth.

Alex Rios went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI despite being robbed of an apparent homer in his first at-bat. Paul Konerko had four hits, drove in two and scored three times to raise his AL-best batting average to .396.

Lowe allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 2 13 innings against an offense that continues to pound the ball. Lowes ERA climbed from 2.15 to 3.25.

What looked the makings of a great pitching matchup never materialized as Lowe wasnt alone in his struggles. Jake Peavy, who came in with the ALs third-lowest ERA, gave up seven runs on six hits in 6 13 innings. Peavy walked one and struck out nine in a 113-pitch effort.

The Sox rocked Lowe from the start, scoring four times in the first inning, and doing it in rare fashion -- without a home run.

Four singles and a double scored four runs against Lowe. Konerko scored Gordon Beckham with Chicagos third consecutive one-out single.

It appeared Rios would clear the bases with a long drive, but Michael Brantley robbed him with leaping catch over the fence just to the left of the 400-foot sign in dead center.

The only extra-base hit of the inning came next on a run-scoring double by A.J. Pierzynski, his 11th RBI in the past 10 games. Viciedo followed with an RBI two-run single to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.

The Indians waited until the third to attack Peavy. A walk, single and hit batter loaded the bases and Brantley cleared them with a double to right-center, cutting Chicagos lead to 4-3.

Northbrook native Jason Kipnis followed with a two-run home run as Peavy labored through a 37-pitch inning after he had retired the first seven batters he faced.

The Sox quickly regained the lead on back-to-back lead-off doubles by Dunn and Konerko, followed by a Rios single. Viciedo clubbed his 10th home run to score Rios and make it 8-5.

Viciedo extended his home run streak to a career-high three games.

Kipnis struck again in the fifth with another two-run home run off Peavy. It was Kipnis first career multi-homer game.

But the Sox pulled away in the seventh with another four-run inning, highlighted by a Rios double to score Konerko. Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza also had RBI in the inning.

Konerko wasnt done, however. His ground-rule double into left-center field in the eighth gave him a perfect day at the plate (four hits, one walk). He was replaced by a pinch-runner and left to a standing ovation.

Rios followed with a deep home run to right, his fourth of the season.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

kenwilliamssox.png
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."