CHICAGO – The story of Reynaldo López's season falling below somewhat lofty expectations set last year could be described as “Good stuff, but … .”
Not executing. Not finding consistency from start to start.
That poor execution part of the scenario played out again on a humid Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field in the White Sox 8-6 loss to the Royals, which forced a rubber game on Thursday and evened the season series at nine victories apiece.
Lopez struck out six and walked one, but he also yielded four home runs over 4 2/3 innings, raising his season total to 31 over 166 2/3 innings. He had allowed just four total home runs over 64 innings pitched across 11 second-half starts entering this contest.
“I felt good. I felt strong. I think that backfired on me,” Lopez said through interpreter Billy Russo. “I felt stronger than usual and I tried to do too much, and then I wasn't able to execute.
“For whatever reason, I was overthrowing instead of throw the regular pitch. I was trying to make my pitches nastier than what they usually are. That generated a chain of mistakes. When you do that here, you pay for it. And I paid for it tonight.”
In Lopez’s previous start against the Indians at Progressive Field, his pitches were plenty nasty during a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts. That outing might have played into his struggles against the Royals, according to manager Rick Renteria, in that Lopez was a little too accelerated.
As an example, catcher Welington Castillo would set an original target picked up by Lopez. But before Castillo could move into his secondary target, Lopez would be making his pitch.
“He would see the spot where he originally was at and he starts to take off,” Renteria said. “There’s movement to reset for catchers when they set their bodies, they reset. And he wasn’t picking it up. Again, just not following the target completely.”
“I was pitching too quick,” said Lopez, adding both Renteria and Ivan Nova noticed this particular problem. “I wasn't able to let him locate the target for me to pitch in that spot. That was a factor today and that was my fault. I know that I need to do better in that aspect of the game.”
Jorge Soler, Adalberto Mondesi, Bubba Starling and Ryan O’Hearn all went deep against Lopez. Soler added a second homer off reliever Carson Fulmer to give him 43 for the season.
Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu homered for the White Sox, with Jimenez giving the team a 3-2 lead in the first via a three-run blast to right. Jimenez picked up four RBIs for the second straight game, while Abreu’s 32nd home run raised his AL-leading RBI total to 114.
The teams have combined for 13 home runs over the first two games of this series played in unseasonably balmy conditions, contributing to the new single-season MLB home run record set earlier in the evening.
“It seems like the ball has a lot of life here the last couple of nights,” Renteria said. “Both sides have done it. They ended up taking more advantage of it.”
Lopez looks at the struggles as part of the learning process.
“I'm actually learning more this year than what I learned last year, even though I had a good season last year to my standards,” Lopez said. “I learned today that I need to slow the game down in order to allow my catcher to put the target.
“I need to be able to make my pitches in those spots and instead of just run over and be too quick on my pitches to home plate. I just need to be more consistent and to be able to apply all those lessons in every outing.”