And manager Robin Ventura said it might be that way for both games of the day-night twinbill against the Detroit Tigers.
Abreu appeared to have some leg discomfort, perhaps in the upper hamstring area early in Friday’s game and was removed in the ninth inning with the Tigers well in control of an eventual 7-1 victory.
Asked about Abreu’s leg issues Saturday morning, Ventura was vague about it.
“I think he’s just tired,” Ventura said. “You get to a point in the season where you’re playing so many games. It’s his first time through it, so I think he’s reacting to it for the first time. Just talking to him, he understands it. He still wants to play.”
Abreu admitted Friday that the mounting losses have been disappointing, but that he remains focused on being productive through the end of the season.
The 27-year-old appears to have the American League rookie of the year locked up, as he entered Saturday leading baseball in slugging percentage (.603) and is in a three-way tie for second in home runs with 33, one behind Nelson Cruz of the Baltimore Orioles.
“He’s still competitive and wants to be out there and play against the best players,” Ventura said. “We’re just DHing him and trying to give him little breaks when you can. Like last night, you take him out late and give him a little breather, and even today, he might DH both games.”
Bassitt is the 26th-man exemption for Saturday’s doubleheader, while Surkamp took the roster spot of Scott Carroll, who was technically optioned to Triple-A Charotte. Carroll, who started Friday’s game against the Tigers, will return next week when rosters are expanded at the start of September.
Carroll's locker remained intact, though, and it's doubtful he even leaves town.
Bassitt will make his major league debut when he starts the second game of the day-night doubleheader. The Tigers will start Kyle Ryan, who also will be making his major-league debut.
Surkamp gives the White Sox bullpen help for the planned 18 innings Saturday.
“You can get an extra arm in here,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You have two games, where we’re at (in the schedule), the amount of games that we’ve got with (predicted) rain and everything else, you never know how many arms you’re going to need. It’s nice to have him back.”
CHICAGO – Some similarities between Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu and Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera were evident Friday, but it was their differences that seemed most apparent.
It was earlier this week when Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona noted parallels between Abreu and what he remembered of an emerging Cabrera. Francona was clear not to say that the two are on the same plateau right now, because Abreu is five months into his major league career and Cabrera has won the past two MVP awards, picking up a rare triple crown in the process.
Mostly, Friday night’s differences were rooted in the clear separation of the two teams on the field. Cabrera’s Tigers are in second place but remain in playoff contention. Abreu’s White Sox are fading fast, like a team that has resigned itself to the fate of another losing season.
Cabrera was 0-for-5 and largely invisible during the Tigers’ easy 7-1 victory. Abreu made noise all over the place, with three hits, including a double, and also making two errors as his club was soundly defeated.
If Abreu aspires to be Cabrera one day, a big part in the torch-passing will have to come through things completely out of his hands. The White Sox are going to have to put a solid team around their big slugger as the Tigers have done around theirs -- and then Abreu is going to have to lead it into October.
While the first part of the White Sox’s rebuild created early-season optimism as Abreu took off and Adam Eaton showed his grit, it has been evident since that the areas of the roster not yet rebuilt have tugged the club in the wrong direction.
Abreu is headed toward an obvious rookie-of-the-year award, but it’s not what he has on his mind as the final month looms.
“It is difficult,” Abreu said of the team struggling while he has individual success. “To me there is not an individual agenda in this game. It’s a team game. When you don’t get the results you want as a team, there’s something missing there. I have to be thankful too, a lot of my success has been because of the team. So I’m thankful for that as well.”
By the time Friday’s game ended, Cabrera had stuck it out to the end, while White Sox manager Robin Ventura replaced Abreu with Dayan Viciedo at first base in the ninth inning. The two offensive forces aren’t quite on the same level just yet.
“There are some similarities there, but Miggy was much younger [when he was a rookie],” Ventura said in reference to the Tigers veteran, who made his debut at age 20; Abreu, meanwhile, is 27. “But you start looking at what they do and mechanically there are some very similar things that they do, that Jose reminds you of Miggy early in his career. It will evolve.
“You don’t really like putting that on anybody because Miggy has that respect throughout the league. Jose is getting there. People do respect him, but there’s a ways to go to get to that level.”
As for the differences in the teams, Ventura tried to remain positive, but it’s all about the future for the White Sox.
“There are pieces, but you just have to get better, and who knows how that's going to go in the offseason,” Ventura said. “We like pieces that we have and you just continue to build on it. Right now is probably not the time to be looking that way because you're probably going to look different when you go into the offseason.”
Perhaps if the White Sox had something to play for, it would be less evident that they are out of gas this month. But nobody, particuarly Abreu, is admitting to giving in just yet.
“It’s been the same as the other months; I don’t see anything different,” Abreu said. “Personally and as a team we continue to work on the same things. We keep our routines going. We’re not doing anything different. We’re very close to September now and personally I feel really good.”
Last week Atlanta Braves starter Mike Minor tossed 7 2/3 innings before the Reds put a hit on the board. Friday, it was Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez who kept Cincinnati hitless for the first six frames. Volquez, a former 17-game winner with the Reds, was picked up off the scrap heap by Pittsburgh this winter and has been a pleasant surprise. Although his peripheral statistics don't necessarily support his 3.45 ERA, he is unlikely to turn into a pumpkin down the stretch after nearly 160 innings of work this season.
Volquez tied a season high with 114 pitches Friday. He was charged with one earned run on three hits and three walks. He struck out six. He pounded the ground with 10 ground-ball outs. Although he has done a lot of work close to the earth, it is his work in the air that has been the big key in 2014. Last year, opposing batters had a .310 average on fly balls against Volquez. This season, that mark sits at .172. Advanced metrics place the Pirates' outfield in a negative light, but someone is converting those fly balls into outs on a consistent basis.
Despite the lack of knocks, the Reds were able to keep both games close, losing in the 12th inning last Friday and briefly taking a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning Friday before conceding the lead and the game soon after. The wins were important to Atlanta and Pittsburgh as both are still chasing the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League wild-card race. In fact, the Pirates' three-game winning streak has them sneaking back into contention in the NL Central as well.
For those interested, the Reds host the New York Mets next Friday at the Great American Ballpark.
2. DeGrom continues strong season
The Mets are in the midst of another lost season, but once again a trio of young arms gives the organization and its fans some hope. They lack the cool nickname of "Generation K," but Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom may be the foundation of a rotation that gets New York's other baseball team back to the postseason. DeGrom, the only active member of the trio, was on the bump Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Without the hype of Harvey or Syndergaard, deGrom has snuck up on most people this season. The lanky right-hander tossed seven strong innings against the Phillies, allowing just one unearned run. Of his 18 starts, deGrom has gone at least six innings in 14 of them. He has allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of those contests.
The rookie boasts a full arsenal of pitches, but Friday night's game plan centered around a mid-90s fastball that he commanded well. It accounted for nearly 75 percent of his pitches thrown Friday, as deGrom honed in on the lower half of the zone to his arm side. The heater was the weapon of choice on 16 of the 22 outs he recorded.
It's been said before, but "maybe next year" for the Mets.
3. Orioles continue to pound away
After taking three of four from the Tampa Bay Rays, the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles were back at it Friday night, blowing out the Minnesota Twins 9-1. Baltimore's pitching staff has been largely mediocre this season, but its offense packs a powerful enough punch to push the O's past the opposition on most nights. The club's .163 ISO -- isolated power measures the ability to hit for extra bases by stripping singles from slugging percentage -- is tops in the AL, trailing only the Colorado Rockies in the majors.
Chris Davis is having a disappointing season after his breakout 2013 campaign, but he hit another home run -- this one a grand slam -- on Friday that gives him seven in August and 24 on the season. While that is a far cry from last year's pace, Davis appears to be getting a bit more into the swing of things even if his average sits below .200.
In Davis' void, Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce have picked up the offensive slack. Cruz signed a one-year deal with Baltimore after a difficult time finding work on the open market. His 34 home runs lead the majors. Pearce was once a top prospect in the Pirates' system, but has spent most of his career shuttling between the majors and minors. This season, he has broken out in a big way with an OPS approaching .900 and 16 homers in limited action. He left Friday's game with an abdominal strain. Considering Manny Machado's injury, the team can ill afford to lose Pearce, as crazy as that may sound.
4. Verlander better versus White Sox
The Detroit Tigers have one of the game's top pitchers (Max Scherzer) and traded for another one (David Price) on July 31. Meanwhile, the team's former top hurler was on the mound Friday night, looking to close the gap in the highly contested AL Central race.
Justin Verlander has been off his game for most of this season. His ERA is approaching 5.00 and he has allowed more hits than innings pitched for the first time since 2006. Friday's effort was not vintage Verlander; however, it was still encouraging since he is no longer considered the team's top gun.
Facing the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, Verlander worked seven innings, allowing one run on nine hits and two walks. He struck out seven batters, throwing 77 strikes in 116 pitches. It was the first time since April 17 that he allowed one run or none in a start.
Despite a recent run of inconsistency, the Tigers are within arm's reach of the division lead. With Anibal Sanchez's future in doubt, Verlander once again becomes a key figure in Detroit's rotation. If he can be just part of what he once was, it may go a long way in the club's quest for a fourth straight division title.
5. Young Cubs on the prowl
The Houston Astros have been painted by some as the poster boys of "process." Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs have also been in rebuild mode and, unlike Houston, which may have some sour grapes among its bunch, their organizational tree is starting to bear fruit at the highest level.
Javier Baez was first to capture the nation's attention this summer with his risk-versus-reward approach at the plate. His big swings have left nearly an equal amount of oohs and ughs depending on whether he made contact or not. This week, the club promoted Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler to the big leagues. That decision is already paying dividends.
Though he is just three games into his major league career, the 22-year-old Soler has seven hits in his first 12 plate appearances. On Friday, he recorded his first multi-home run game, belting a pair of homers against the St. Louis Cardinals. Soler's first homer was a solo shot in the seventh inning that tied the game at 2-2. Baez put the Cubs ahead 4-2 with an RBI double the next inning, but the big blast came once again from Soler, who smacked a two-run homer to left field. Two innings, two at-bats and two home runs that covered 858 feet. Not bad for the third night on the job.
As exciting as the win was for the Cubs, it was equally devastating for a Cardinals team that is clinging to an NL wild-card spot by the slimmest of margins.
Tommy Rancel blogs about the Tampa Bay Rays at the SweetSpot network affiliate The Process Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @TRancel.
The contending Tigers won for the fifth time in six games. Chicago has lost nine of 10.
Verlander (12-11) beat the White Sox for the 14th time in 18 decisions since June 10, 2009 -- the most wins by any pitcher against a single team in that span.
The former AL MVP allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings. It was the first time this year that he allowed fewer than two runs in a game.
Verlander matched his season high with eight strikeouts and walked two.
Scott Carroll (5-9) took the loss but didn't get much support in the field.
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox fell 7-1 to the Detroit Tigers on Friday and have now dropped nine of their past 10 games.
How it happened: White Sox starter Scott Carroll got no help from his defense, and the Tigers piled on the right-hander for seven runs on 10 hits over five-plus innings. Carroll was forced to get five outs in the fourth inning after Jose Abreu made two errors and the Tigers scored five times. Adam Eaton had a hit in each of his first three trips to the plate against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Abreu added three hits for the White Sox.
What it means: The dog days of August have held true to form as the White Sox have failed to muster much energy during the past month. Friday’s defeat gives them a 7-18 record in August, and there are still three games remaining before the calendar flips to September. The White Sox have scored three runs or fewer in 18 of their past 21 games and have just two multi-homer games over their past 27 contests.
Outside the box: The White Sox got a look at the Verlander of old Friday. The former Cy Young Award winner was 1-3 with a 5.51 ERA over his previous five starts against the White Sox, in which he allowed 44 hits. But in the 13 starts against Chicago before that, he was 12-1 with a 2.23 ERA and allowed 75 hits. He gave up one run on nine hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts on Friday.
Off beat: Talk over the past few days had been about Abreu and how his defense has steadily improved all year from shaky footwork in April to a steady hand in five short months. Then he went out and made the two errors Friday night. “More important than anything, I feel like I’m gaining confidence,” Abreu said about his defense through an interpreter before the game.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (10-3, 2.03 ERA) to the mound Saturday in the first game of a day/night doubleheader. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Max Scherzer (15-4, 3.13) in the 12:10 p.m. CT start from U.S. Cellular Field. In Game 2, the White Sox will send righty Chris Bassitt against Tigers left-hander Kyle Ryan in the 6:10 p.m. start. Both pitchers will be making their major league debuts.
Harrelson told Chicago’s WSCR-AM 670 on Thursday that he is thinking about cutting down on road games next season, which would be his 31st with the White Sox and 40th in broadcasting.
“I have a 10-year-old and 7-year-old playing ball in South Bend [Indiana], and I am missing a lot of it,” the 72-year-old former major leaguer told the radio station. “If I told you I was not thinking about [cutting back], I would be lying. I am thinking about it.
“I have not made a decision, but it will be one that my family will help me with. I really don’t want to miss my grandkids growing up. They are old enough now to know I am known by a lot of people, and they really kind of like that.”
Harrelson declined to discuss the matter Friday before the White Sox faced the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox released a brief statement.
“Similar to past seasons, after the 2014 season ends, Hawk will talk with his family and members of the White Sox front office and a collective decision will be made in terms of his 2015 schedule, which could be no change or altering his schedule,” the White Sox statement read.
Chen's mastery of the White Sox surfaced primarily over the past few years with the Royals. The soft-tossing 37-year-old has tied the White Sox in knots start after start.
Chen has an 8-5 career record against the White Sox with a 3.40 ERA over 129 2/3 innings. The only American League teams against which he has a lower ERA are the Astros (2.72), Royals (3.14) and Blue Jays (2.97); most of his innings against the Astros came when they were in the National League, and he has only two starts against the Royals.
Chen is a combined 8-2 against the White Sox over the past four seasons in 14 starts. Only once in those four seasons did he have an ERA over 3.12 against Chicago. He was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts against the Sox this year.
Paul Konerko has five career home runs against Chen, but even he has been reduced to a .222 (12-for-54) batting average against the lefty, while Alejandro De Aza is 4-for-18 (.222), Adam Eaton is 1-for-6 (.167), Tyler Flowers is 1-for-12 (.083) and Conor Gillaspie is 1-for-9 (.111).
The outfielder hasn’t looked like his former self since his return from shoulder surgery. It’s not anything the White Sox didn’t expect, however, as Garcia is just 8-for-40 (.200) with two home runs and nine RBIs in the 11 games of his return. He has a .425 slugging percentage since he came back.
“I think he’s been all right,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You are taking a guy that hasn’t seen a lot of action. You just watch it. I think there’s still some development in there that’s going on.”
Another right-handed slugger who underwent a surgical repair of the labrum in his left shoulder was the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp. After surgery in October 2012, he returned to start the 2013 season but batted just .251 over the first two months, with a .335 slugging percentage and just two home runs.
The Garcia and Kemp surgeries weren’t completely identical, but a labrum repair was the central theme of both.
Only this season has Kemp started to look like the player he was before the shoulder injury, so it's possible Garcia's adjustment period extends into next season.
“Any time a guy has that long a stretch of being on the [disabled list], then you come back, he’ll get a shot of adrenaline right when he gets out there, and then this is the tough part for him,” Ventura said. “He has to go through this part, and then once he settles in, you’ll see a better idea of what you are going to get in the future.”
Despite not playing together for most of the season, Garcia and Jose Abreu have been able to forge a bond. The duo is still expected to comprise the core at the heart of the order for a long time.
“I think it’s been great to be able to spend time with him, and one thing I can tell you [is] he’s a great person,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “As a player, we’ve talked about being a five-tool player. Right now he’s going through some tough patches, but he’s a guy that will be able to get it done.”
The numbers show that while four-seam fastballs have given Garcia particular trouble since his return, he has struggled against offspeed pitches as well, though he has seen far fewer of them. The combination suggests timing issues not uncommon for a hitter who has missed a significant amount of time.
“We talked a few days ago about the importance of being mentally tough and being able to handle these times,” Abreu said. “I have nothing but good things to say about him.”
White Sox starter Chris Bassitt and Tigers starter Kyle Ryan each will be making their major league debut against each other. The doubleheader came about after the June 10 game against the two teams was rained out.
Both players will be their team's extra 26th player, permitted for split doubleheaders that come about when a game is rescheduled. That means that each will be removed from the roster immediately after the game, but the White Sox have already said that Bassitt will be a part of their September expanded roster.
The opening game of the doubleheader will provide its own intrigue as American League ERA leader Chris Sale takes on the Tigers' Max Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young Award last season. The Tigers originally planned to start Scherzer in the second game, but reportedly switched when they found out Sale was pitching in the first game.
Before the second game of the doubleheader, the White Sox are planning to honor the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from the South Side that won the United States championship at the recently-concluded Little League World Series. The team lost the international championship game to South Korea.
The second game is also Tony La Russa Bobblehead Night, with the White Sox also planning to honor their former manager, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.
HEAD TO HEAD
The White Sox's Jose Abreu is 4-for-9 (.444) against Tigers starter Justin Verlander this season with two solo home runs. ... The White Sox's Adam Dunn has six combined home runs against Tigers starters Scherzer and Verlander, but he has also struck out 37 times against the duo, including 23 times in 47 at-bats against Scherzer. ... The White Sox's Avisail Garcia is 5-for-10 (.500) against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, while Conor Gillaspie is 9-for-20 (.450). ... White Sox starter Scott Carroll has not faced the Tigers. ... The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is 6-for-24 (.250) against White Sox starter Chris Sale with a pair of home runs. ... Cabrera is 7-for-20 (.350) against White Sox starter Jose Quintana with a home run.
The White Sox have lost eight of their past nine games and six of their last eight at home. ... Abreu is 13-for-28 (.464) during his current eight-game hitting streak and has also hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, going 20-for-49 (.408) in that stretch. ... Abreu is three RBIs short of becoming the fourth White Sox rookie to reach the 100 mark. ... Alexei Ramirez has not only shown some slick fielding of late, he also has 10 multi-hit games in the month of August. ... White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton is coming off a series against the Cleveland Indians when he went 4-for-11 (.364) with a double, triple, RBI and four runs scored. ... Sale's 165 strikeouts are a franchise best through 21 starts of a season and his 2.03 ERA would be the lowest by a White Sox starter since Wilbur Wood had a 1.91 mark in 1971. ... The Tigers will enter the weekend series 1 1/2 games behind the first place Kansas City Royals in the American League Central. ... The last time these two teams met to close out July, the White Sox won the series at Detroit and have since gone 7-17 in the month of August.
PITCHING MATCHUPSFriday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (5-8, 5.05 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (11-11, 4.82), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: Game 1: White Sox LH Chris Sale (10-3, 2.03) vs. Tigers RH Max Scherzer, (15-4, 3.13), 12:10 p.m. CST; Game 2: White Sox RH Chris Bassitt (0-0, 0.00) vs. Tigers LH Kyle Ryan (0-0, 0.00) 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48) vs. Tigers RH Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06), 1:10 p.m. CST
That it was a low-scoring affair Thursday only highlighted the impact one misplay can have.
De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have been defensive liabilities all season and whether either returns next season remains to be seen. The White Sox are set to go with Adam Eaton in center field and Avisail Garcia in right field next year.
Defense isn’t the only area where they White Sox need to make fundamental improvements, but it is an area that continues to hurt them often.
“Being fundamentally sound in every aspect of the game is a priority for us,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “We have made some improvements in certain areas, but we are not where we need to be. We know that, whether it's an element of personnel or instruction, it's something that we look to fairly regularly during the season and then more intensely early in the offseason, when we try to address some of those needs.”
CHICAGO -- Carlos Carrasco pitched into the seventh inning and Michael Bourn had two triples among his three hits, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
Carrasco (6-4) allowed one runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox fell 3-2 to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, their eighth defeat in their past nine games.
How it happened: The White Sox’s offense was held in check by Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who gave up one run on four hits over 6⅔ innings. Jose Abreu delivered the White Sox’s only RBI on a third-inning single. John Danks pitched well, giving up two runs on five hits over six innings while striking out five. The last five spots in the White Sox’s order went a combined 1-for-15, with the hit coming on a bloop single from Tyler Flowers in the seventh inning.
What it means: Danks continues to have a rocky ride, two years removed from shoulder surgery, but Thursday’ strong outing was a good sign. He still doesn’t have a victory in more than a month, although his outing was his best since his July 13 start against the Indians, when he gave up one run over seven innings. Assuming he starts every fifth game from now until the end of the season, Danks has five more outings to finish off the season strong.
Outside the box: Abreu now has 97 RBIs, moving him three away from becoming the fourth rookie in White sox history to record 100, along with Smead Jolley (114 in 1930), Zeke Bonura (110 in 1934) and Ron Kittle (100 in 1983). Since 2000, Albert Pujols (130 in 2001), Ryan Zimmerman (110 in 2006) and Hideki Matsui (106 in 2003) are the only rookies to record 100 RBIs in a season.
Offbeat: The White Sox outfielders played a little “I got it, you take it” in the second inning. On a deep drive to left-center by Zach Walters, both left fielder Alejandro De Aza and center fielder Adam Eaton converged on the ball. With both about to leap at the wall, Eaton backed off at the last second and De Aza made the catch with his glove in front of the yellow stripe.
Up next: The While Sox will send right-hander Scott Carroll (5-8, 5.05 ERA) to the mound Friday against Detroit in the opener of a four-game series. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Justin Verlander (11-11, 4.82) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.
Jackie Robinson West won the United States title at the recently completed Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Great Lakes Region representative lost in the international title game to South Korea.
The Little League team will be honored on the field Saturday before the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. The second game is scheduled to start at 6:05 p.m.
Each Jackie Robinson West player will receive their own White Sox jersey with their number on it that is autographed by every White Sox player. Also, they each will get $100 worth of school supplies.
In addition, the team’s run in the 2014 Little League World Series will be recognized with a plaque at U.S. Cellular Field that will be unveiled next season.
The White Sox are encouraging all fans attending Saturday’s second game of the doubleheader to wear gold in honor of the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars.