White Sox defeat Twins, win series

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White Sox defeat Twins, win series

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Flowers had already scanned Jake Peavys vitals before Robin Ventura reached the mound in the eighth inning Wednesday and knew he was good to go.

The White Sox catcher was convinced his starting pitcher was more than capable of handling the games biggest make-or-break moment even though he had thrown 112 pitches. Flowers heard it in Peavys voice and saw it in his eyes and supported the decision to go after Joe Mauer with the tying run only 90 feet away and the go-ahead run at first and two outs.

Also convinced, Ventura left Peavy in and he didnt disappoint as he retired Mauer and led the White Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Flowers and Alejandro De Aza scrapped together just enough offense and Addison Reed closed out a series victory for the White Sox and a 4-2 road trip with his 18th save in 21 tries.

The biggest thing is, how are they mentally? Flowers said. How are they feeling? Are they still confident? Are they still being aggressive throwing pitches and not finessing strikes in there because thats when you get hurt. Hes fired up.

Ventura didnt need much to be convinced.

The Twins were only in their fortuitous position after Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis committed an error with two outs to put runners on the corners for Mauer.

Before the eighth inning, Peavy had shown few signs of weakness aside from Danny Valencias second-inning solo homer.

Ventura walked to the mound, heard what he needed to and headed for the dugout even though left-hander Leyson Septimo was ready to face the lefty Mauer.

He still wanted it, Ventura said. I trust him. If I go out there and you hear the right thing, you are going to keep him in there. Late in the game, thats the guy you want in there.

Peavy needed only two pitches to prove Ventura right. After he missed with a fastball, Peavy came back with inside another heater and Mauer popped out to shallow left.

Peavy, who limited the Twins to an earned run and five hits in eight innings, gave a quick fist-pump as he left the mound with the lead intact. He struck out eight and walked two.

This guy is hitting .330, Peavy said of Mauer. You dont want him up in a situation like that. Robin came out to make sure I was comfortable facing him in that situation. We had Septimo ready. But I really was (comfortable) simply because of how we pitched him earlier. Decided to stay hard in and try to get him to hit the ball in the air, and fortunately we were able to do that.

The combination of De Aza and Flowers was fortunate enough to get Peavy enough support.

De Aza opened the game with a single off Twins starter Scott Diamond (9-5) and quickly stole second base. He then alertly moved to third base when Valencia had to dive to retrieve Youkilis grounder and De Aza scored on Adam Dunns sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

Then Flowers got involved.

After a single in his first at-bat, Flowers tied the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning -- his first RBI since May 20.

But Flowers wasnt finished.

He led off the eighth inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Orlando Hudsons grounder. His work on the bases became critical when De Aza, who finished 3-for-4 and 7-for-13 in the series, lined the ball off Diamond for an RBI single and a 3-2 lead.

Flowers -- who has struggled to produce consistent offense because of his limited role off the bench -- said he was pleased to contribute in ways other than handling the pitching staff and on defense.

Its tough not getting regular at-bats, Peavy said of Flowers. When he got some regular at-bats what hes done, especially a power guy with a long swing, to go up there and keep his feel (is good).

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.