Lopez, Jimenez star in South Side nail-biter

Right-hander racks up 6 1/3 scoreless innings; young slugger goes deep

August 11th, 2019

CHICAGO -- One thought went through White Sox manager Rick Renteria’s mind as Oakland loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning of his team’s 3-2 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night.

“Get the last out,” said Renteria in a matter-of-fact tone after the White Sox beat the A’s for the first time in five games this season.

What had been one of the White Sox better efforts in the past month, coming before an enthusiastic crowd of 27,026 on a night where Eloy Jimenez’s first career home run was honored with a bobblehead, took a sudden turn in that final frame. Closer Alex Colome struck out the first two hitters, only to give up back-to-back hits to Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder, putting runners on second and third.

Matt Chapman’s grounder should have ended the game, but a fielding error by third baseman Ryan Goins allowed both runners to score, put Chapman at second and cut the lead to 3-2. An intentional walk to Matt Olson and an unintentional walk to Mark Canha followed to load the bases, before Colome struck out Khris Davis for his 23rd save.

The ninth-inning theatrics helped Reynaldo Lopez improve to 7-9 in a game where he did more with less over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Known more as a pitcher who works up in the zone and gets fly balls, Lopez induced three double plays behind him on an evening where the A’s put at least one runner on base in every inning but one against him.

“Those double plays and the work that the infield did overall helped me to get to the seventh inning,” said Lopez through interpreter Billy Russo. “If not, I think my outing would be shorter than what it was. They did a good job.

“I'm not that kind of pitcher who gets too many ground balls, but today I got the ground ball when I needed them. The defense just made the plays and that was huge for me.”

Lopez struck out three and walked three, reducing his ERA to 2.13 over six second-half starts. He has allowed just one home run during that time, which has spanned 38 innings. He has struck out 37.

His vow to be better after the All-Star break must be remembered following another stellar performance.

“I just changed my mindset,” Lopez said. “I just tried to simplify my thoughts and not get too into what happened during the game, things that I can't control. Like I said, just try to execute my pitches and trust them and trust my stuff.”

“Right now, he’s having success because he’s mixing his pitches so well and he’s throwing strikes,” Canha said. “He’s kind of locating his offspeed in good places and throwing 97 [mph] on top of all that. It’s a tough task for a hitter.”

One walk from Lopez and two walks from reliever Evan Marshall loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh. Aaron Bummer replaced Marshall to face Pinder, who lined a shot into right-center that looked like a bases-clearing and lead-changing extra-base hit with the White Sox holding a 2-0 advantage. But Jon Jay made a sliding catch of the drive to end the frame.

Tim Anderson made a similarly slick play to end the eighth on a Stephen Piscotty grounder up the middle with two runners on. As for Jimenez, he entered the night 10-for-52 with one homer and four RBIs in the 12 games since he had been reinstated from the injured list.

Jimenez struck out in his first at-bat against A’s starter Tanner Roark, but cleared the fences leading off the fifth for homer No. 19. It was part of the needed cushion to survive the ninth, as the White Sox improved to 40-0 when leading after eight innings.

“Ultimately, when [Colome] got to the second out, I wanted the last out,” Renteria said. “He trusts himself. He's been doing a great job for us. Getting that last out, was there relief? Absolutely. We won the game.”

“[The fans] showed up tonight,” Anderson said. “It’s fun to play like that when they come out. It was a heck of a ballgame.”