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López overwhelms Tigers to cap 2019 campaign

Mendick launches 2nd homer on 26th birthday
@scottmerkin
September 28, 2019

CHICAGO – The last start of Reynaldo López's 2019 season went a great deal better than his second-to-last start this past Sunday, with both of them coming against Detroit. López struck out nine over eight-plus innings during Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, pitching the White Sox to a 7-1 victory

CHICAGO – The last start of Reynaldo López's 2019 season went a great deal better than his second-to-last start this past Sunday, with both of them coming against Detroit.

López struck out nine over eight-plus innings during Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, pitching the White Sox to a 7-1 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field and their third straight win overall. This little winning streak pushed the White Sox to 37-36 against the American League Central this season.

Box score

Detroit managed just five hits and one walk against López, who improved to 10-15 overall and broke a personal three-game losing streak. It came six days after allowing five runs on nine hits in four innings at Comerica Park, leading to a stern talking to from manager Rick Renteria, who hadn’t made a mound visit since having right rotator cuff surgery.

Clearly, López answered the coaching staff’s challenge heading into the offseason.

“He just responded to himself,” Renteria said. “He looked within. Nice start for him. Really came out right out of the gate pumping strikes. You saw the velocity up right away as well. Really did a nice job.”

“To finish the season with a good outing is something good, even though this season was kind of rough,” said López through interpreter Billy Russo. “It’s important, because you can carry this good outing or this good feeling to the offseason and work on that for next season.”

López coupled great focus with the electric stuff he’s capable of producing. The right-hander, who worked at least eight innings for a third time this season, recorded 15 swinging strikes, according to Statcast, and departed to a standing ovation in the ninth, tipping his hat to the crowd.

“Coop [Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] explained to him a couple days ago, talking about who we wanted him to be and what we require, what we need of him,” Renteria said. “I thought it was really important for him to do what he did today. Fortunately, it worked out.”

“I was able to make adjustments throughout the season with my mechanics, and I was able to stay healthy, and now it's more about my mind,” López said. “You know, be mentally ready for every situation and mentally strong. And that's why I always said it's all about the focus. That's going to be my main goal during the offseason -- have a better focus and being able to keep that focus throughout the whole game.”

Mendick has birthday to remember

Saturday’s Game 1 victory was just as important to shortstop Danny Mendick, but for a different reason. Mendick’s 26th birthday became a special one, as he went deep in the sixth inning. It was his second homer of the season.

“I think it's the first time I've played baseball on my birthday in a while, so it was nice,” Mendick said. “Back to Little League, I think. I have my family here right now, so it's a cool moment to share. I worked hard and I'm glad I'm here. Trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get so I can stay here in the future.”

Mendick’s parents, sister, grandfather, aunts and uncles on both sides and some cousins were in attendance. They got to watch Eloy Jiménez hit his 31st home run -- he now ranks third all time in single-season home runs from a White Sox rookie and trails only José Abreu (36, 2014) and Ron Kittle (35, 1983).

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.