Chicago Bears

Error sends White Sox to walk-off loss

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Error sends White Sox to walk-off loss

MINNEAPOLIS --- Welcome back, guys.

Alejandro De Aza and A.J. Pierzynski returned to the White Sox lineup on Monday night and did plenty of heavy lifting with a homer and five combined RBIs. But it wasnt enough as Pierzynskis throwing error in the ninth inning helped the Minnesota Twins top the White Sox 7-6 in front of 35,018 at Target Field.

Brett Myers took the loss and the White Sox failed to gain ground on Detroit, a 7-3 loser in Boston.

Danny Valencia started the Twins ninth inning with a solid single off Myers. Pinch-runner Alexi Casilla then raced to third as Brian Dozier laid down a sacrifice bunt and Pierzynskis throw to first was wild. Jamey Carroll followed with a game-winning sacrifice fly to right.

The White Sox received an instant surge when De Aza started the game with a single after an eight-pitch at-bat against Minnesota starter Cole De Vries. Two outs later, Paul Konerko singled in De Aza, who had stolen second base. Alex Rios then singled and Pierzynski, who missed five days with a sore right oblique, launched a 413-foot, three-run homer to right to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead.

The White Sox and starter Jose Quintana couldnt hold the lead and fell behind 6-4 in the third inning.

But De Aza, who missed two days with a sore left wrist, singled in a run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to one run. He also drove in the tying run with a two-out single in the eighth inning. De Aza finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs.

Quintana struggled early, but settled in to deliver seven innings when it looked like he might not last two.

Spotted a four-run lead in the first inning, the rookie gave it all back immediately. Minneostas first three hitters, all lefties, went the opposite way with success against Quintana. Joe Mauer was the last of the trio and his RBI single cut the Sox lead to 4-1. After Josh Willingham followed with an RBI single, pitching coach Don Cooper visited Quintana. Ryan Doumit later had an RBI groundout before Danny Valencia tied it with an RBI single in the first.

Quintana struggled some more in the third inning as the first three runners reached base. Doumit had an RBI single and Valencia had a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 6-4 lead.

But Quintana shut down the Twins from there and allowed his team to rally. The left-hander was efficient and retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced.

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

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Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

Prince Amukamara (ankle) is expected to make his 2017 regular season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a full participant in practices Thursday and Friday (he wasn't listed on Friday's injury report). But that leads to the question: What does defensive coordinator Vic Fangio do with Kyle Fuller?

Fuller acquitted himself well in starts against the Atlanta Falcons — in which he helped limit Julio Jones to four catches on five targets — and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears signed Amukamara to start opposite Marcus Cooper, but Fuller has at least earned the opportunity to keep his job — or a job — on Sunday. 

And it's worth noting that both Fuller and Amukamara are in contract years, so both should be motivated to not lose playing time going forward. 

“I was pleased with the waay Kyle played overall,” Fangio said. “There's obviously some plays he'd like to do over and play them a little better, but overall I thought he did a good job. I like where he's at right now.”

Fangio didn’t play Fuller as a nickel corner in 2015. But if the Bears want to get their best defensive players on the field could Fuller force his way into a nickel role with Amukamara and Cooper as the outside guys? 

That’s an especially pertinent question given Pittsburgh’s explosive trio of receivers: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

“No matter where a receiver lines up, it’s not going to be a down to take off,” Amukamara said. “We’re always going to have to have our ‘A’ game.”

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

Avisail Garcia's "big head" almost cost the White Sox on Friday night. At least, that's Reynaldo Lopez's humorous theory. 

With the game on the line and the Royals' tying run dashing for the plate, Garcia slipped a bit before making a clutch recovery to nail Whit Merrifield. The craziness continued after the tag as Narvaez caught Lorenzo Cain drifting off first base to seal a win. 

"I was watching the game on the TV here," Lopez said, "and then when I saw the hit from Cain, and I saw that Avi fell down because he has a big head, I was concerned but at the same time I saw that his throw, he has a good arm and he made a very good throw." 

Just your average 9-2-4-6 double play to end a game on the South Side, right? 

"Obviously, when he slipped we took a little gasp," Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable. It's pretty exciting finish to a ballgame that kind of got a little ugly early on."

Ugly is an apt way to describe the first few innings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both made errors in the Royals' six-run third inning, and Lopez capped it off with a wild pitch that allowed Eric Hosmer to score. But it went from an eyesore loss to an overzealous "we could make noise in 2019" rebuild win from there, and Garcia's defense -- of all things -- played a significant role. 

Garcia's outfield assist in the ninth was his second of the game. The first, an absolute strike to cut down Alex Gordon in the sixth, didn't involve a slip, though. 

And while much has been made of Garcia's breakout year with the bat, he believes his defense is hugely improved, too. 

"I think 100 percent," he said. "I just try to get better every day with hitting and defense. That’s baseball so get better in everything."

He has 12 outfield assists on the season, up from five a year ago. And despite his overall fielding percentage being down, his strong arm may give him a stronger defensive reputation. 

"Since last year, he's always had an excellent arm," Renteria said. "I think his accuracy is something to be pointed out too because as off balance as he was, he's made some throws to the plate that have been really spot on."

Renteria attributes Garcia's accuracy to the outfielder putting in extra time with Daryl Boston. 

"(Boston) has those guys throwing, and none of you guys are out there watching them work, but they'll throw quite a bit to the bases, especially second base," Renteria said. "They'll get deep and they'll work on doing that, so that's just a part of their routine."

The evolution of Avi carries on.