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Lopez continues to shine despite Sox loss

Renteria says youngster just 'scratching at the surface of what he can be'
June 15, 2018

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria was asked, prior to his team's 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field, if he thought Reynaldo Lopez had the potential to be a future ace for his pitching staff."Yes, I do," Renteria said. "Right now, he's scratching at

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria was asked, prior to his team's 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field, if he thought Reynaldo Lopez had the potential to be a future ace for his pitching staff.
"Yes, I do," Renteria said. "Right now, he's scratching at the surface of what he can be."

Lopez supported Renteria's theory Friday in a way less obvious than the dominance shown during the right-hander's last two trips to the mound, when he allowed seven hits and one earned run combined over 13 1/3 innings. He didn't have A-plus stuff, but still managed to hold the Tigers to three runs on nine hits over six innings, while striking out three and throwing 73 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Lopez topped out at 99 mph, per Statcast™, and recorded 13 swinging strikes and 17 called strikes.
"I felt good. It was a battle," Lopez said through interpreter Billy Russo. "I fought, and I did my best. I think that I gave the team a chance to compete and be in the game. I felt really good, because I was able to manage through the trouble that I had and complete six innings. It was a good outing."
"When you've got a good pitcher on the mound and you really know how he competes and all he gives to our team, it's not difficult to call the game," White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez said. "He's one of those guys where it doesn't matter if he has great stuff. He's going to compete for the team."
The game was decided in the eighth inning, when the Tigers cashed in on their scoring opportunity and the White Sox did not. Detroit scored its run off of Juan Minaya, the fourth reliever used, who struck out four in two innings.
With runners on second and third and one out, John Hicks beat the throw home from first baseman Jose Abreu on a Victor Reyes grounder to give the Tigers the advantage. Abreu has played stellar defense throughout this homestand, but his slight bobble on the grounder allowed Hicks to barely beat the throw.

"It was a pretty fast play," Narvaez said. "[Abreu] was trying to get rid of it really quick and it happens, but if we redo the play, it probably works out."
"Everybody was in," Renteria said. "He was ready to make the play. He just bobbled it a little bit at that point. It was just enough for that guy to score."
Singles by Daniel Palka and Matt Davidson, who combined for five hits, a sacrifice bunt by Narvaez and an intentional walk given to Tim Anderson loaded the bases for the White Sox with one out in the eighth off of Alex Wilson. But Charlie Tilson grounded into a force at the plate and Adam Engel grounded out to shortstop Jose Iglesias to end the threat.
Narvaez had two hits in the game, including a home run, but Renteria felt the bunt put the White Sox in the best position to win at that point.
"The reality is we put the winning run at second base. He countered by walking Timmy, which is fine," Renteria said. "You still have two batsmen ready to do something with the opportunity for us to score.
"We pinch-ran for those guys because that was our chance to score a couple of runs. That was the bottom line. That was the window as far as I saw it, the opportunity for us to try to go ahead and that was it."
Trailing 3-0 going into the sixth against Mike Fiers. Palka and Davidson delivered one-out singles, with Davidson turning a 1-2 count into a 10-pitch battle he won before Narvaez connected for a game-tying, three-run home run. It was Narvaez's first home run of the season, and his first since Sept. 2, 2017.

Fiers hit Anderson with the next pitch, a 72-mph curve, causing a few words to be exchanged between the two. Nothing else came of it, with Fiers leaving the game.
The loss dropped the White Sox to 24-44 overall, and 11-19 against the American League Central. It also gave Lopez six quality starts out of his last eight, numbers suggesting top-of-the-rotation capabilities.
"Those words make me feel proud, especially coming from Ricky," Lopez said. " I work hard every day to try to improve, to try to do my best every time that I have the opportunity to go out there to pitch and perform. It's good when you hear those comments about yourself.
"That's a motivation, because you see that people are noticing what you're doing, and all the work that you put in day in and day out in this sport. And especially for me this season, it's been a very good season."
"Sometimes the emotions during the game, definitely if it's a big moment, make you want to keep going. I wanted to stay in the game, but I also understood why they made that decision. I like to compete. I'm a competitor. And I always want to give more when I chance to be out there. That's probably why I don't like to get taken out of the game. But I understood the decision, and I know they always try to make the best decision for us." -- Lopez, on wanting to stay past his 97 pitches
Lucas Giolito is scheduled to make his 14th start of the season, seventh at home and second against the Tigers in a 1:10 p.m. CT first pitch at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday afternoon. Giolito is 1-4 with an 11.63 ERA over six home starts this season, where opponents are hitting .303 against him. Detroit will counter with Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.88).

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.