MLB: Chicago White Sox-Spring Training Media Day

White Sox 4, Rangers 3: Long, weird day at the Cell somehow produces Sox victory

The Rangers waited to use their closer through 11 innings, and will wind up having to wait for Sunday for a lead.

1. With a swiftly draining pen in the 11th inning, Rangers manager Jeff Banister didn’t reach for closer Shawn Tolleson, but instead stuck with Nick Martinez — a hot starter at this point last year — and in return got two walks, a hit batsman, and the game-winning hit the Sox couldn’t find for themselves most of the day.

Jose Abreu poked a grounder through a drawn-in infield to redeem a 1-for-6 day, and the Sox took their second straight game against the Rangers, 4-3.

2. The White Sox offense spent much of the game stuck in a loop, living off a Melky Cabrera solo shot as their only run, blowing scoring opportunities and threatening to waste a brilliant return to form by Carlos Rodon. With all day and plenty of opportunity to snap out of it, they finally got around to it in the eighth inning, just before the sun settled behind the upper deck seats Saturday afternoon.

A solo blast to the left field bullpen, Todd Frazier‘s fifth home run of the year, tied the game at two in the bottom of the eighth and injury replacement Dioner Navarro put the Sox ahead with an RBI single to center, but curious decisions and worse execution kept the Sox from extending their lead. A squeeze bunt from Austin Jackson was way too hard, and led to Avisail Garcia getting gunned down at the plate, and Navarro was thrown out by a mile trying to score from second on an Adam Eaton single to end the inning. The lack of an extra run was trivial for all of five minutes, when Ian Desmond walked, stole a base, scooted to third when a low throw got through the infield, and scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth to give David Robertson his first blown save of the year.

3. The White Sox almost ended things in the bottom half, but Jimmy Rollins stealing second and advancing to third was wiped out by a bizarre unintentional interference call on Jose Abreu‘s backswing, and Frazier was robbed of what was at the very least a double when rookie Nomar Mazara made a fantastic leaping catch at the wall in right field.

4. Before the late outburst, the Sox hitters were stuck in a loop. They liked the fourth inning so much they played it twice, and in doing so revealed the holes currently present in their struggling lineup. In both the fourth and the sixth, Frazier led off — after Abreu had ended the previous inning during his 1-for-6 day — by popping out, and was followed by Cabrera and Brett Lawrie reaching base consecutively and starting a mini-rally. In both innings that was followed Garcia making an out (soft liner to center in the fourth, ugly strikeout in the sixth), Alex Avila reaching base by crafty, wisened means (dribbler away from the shift in the fourth, working a walk in the sixth), and the snakebitten Jackson getting a crack at being the hero with the bases loaded and two outs, only to see him fail to get the ball out of the infield.

5. The Sox have lived and died on elite-elite-elite starting pitching so far in 2016, needed to see a return to form from their youngest and rawest left-hander Saturday after the worst outing of his career on Monday. They got plenty.

Rodon breezed through the Texas batting order save for a strange struggle to retire Desmond or keep him in the ballpark. Rodon collected seven strikeouts and just one walk over six and two-thirds innings of two-run ball, and showed few signs of the control problems that plagued him Monday. After two hitters he had doubled his innings and strikeout count from his last outing, and didn’t walk anyone until Desmond earned a free pass and later scored the go-ahead run in the seventh.

6. Cabrera continues to be nuclear hot, belting his second home run of the season and collecting three more hits, and reaching base four more times, which is equal to the number of strikeouts he has this season. It sounds like he’s staying in the middle of the order for the foreseeable future, where his hot April will try to cover up that the Sox 3-4 hitters are both batting below .200.

7. Avila left the game after the sixth inning with tightness in his right hamstring, prompting Dioner Navarro to come in. The next man up from Charlotte should an injury persist is Kevan Smith, who is producing early but short on prospect shine.

8. Lawrie made a diving stop at second followed by a behind-the-back flip to Rollins in the third inning that will likely make a highlight reel or five, and had a pretty good snag of a hot grounder from Mitch Moreland in the 11th.

9. Desmond, owner of a .231 OBP coming into the day, reached base on the Sox four times and scored three runs.

10. The Matt Albers scoreless streak extended to 29 games after he wriggled out of the 11th inning, thanks in no small part to Elvis Andrus lining it back to the mound for a double play

Team Record: 12-6

Next Game is Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT vs. Texas on CSN


Lead Photo Image Credit: Rick Scuteri // USA Today Sports Images

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