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Lopez's struggles continue in loss to Blue Jays

Righty weathers third consecutive rocky outing, allows 5 HRs, 8 ER in 4 1/3 IP
July 27, 2018

CHICAGO -- Before the White Sox recorded an out Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Blue Jays had consecutive home runs, starter Reynaldo Lopez allowed another two baserunners, and manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper were ejected.From there, it only got worse.

CHICAGO -- Before the White Sox recorded an out Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Blue Jays had consecutive home runs, starter Reynaldo Lopez allowed another two baserunners, and manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper were ejected.
From there, it only got worse.

Chicago fell to the Blue Jays, 10-5, as Lopez continued to struggle through 4 1/3 innings. Lopez allowed five home runs during the outing, the first time in his short career he'd allowed more than two in a game. His eight runs allowed also represented a career high.
"A lot of pitches over the plate, coming back, pitches elevated. Really wasn't hitting his spots, and it was as simple as that," Renteria said. "It was a lot of balls all over the plate, lot of fastballs being hit, good fastball-hitting team. They were jumping on everything they could."

Lopez is now in a stretch of three consecutive subpar outings of five or more runs. After starting off the season with a 1.78 ERA in April, Lopez owns a 4.95 ERA since the beginning of May and a 7.22 ERA over his past seven starts.
Additionally, Lopez's average fastball registered at 93.6 mph Friday, per Statcast™, below his season average of 95.3 mph.
"I wasn't feeling all the focus I needed to be effective today," Lopez said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "When you're not focused enough on the game, you can't command, you can't control your pitches and you can't execute.
"That's the most important part for a pitcher: the focus. If you don't have focus, it's impossible for you to have control and have success."

When asked why he hasn't been able to focus, Lopez responded, "I can't answer that question right now."
Renteria did not rule out fatigue as a factor for Lopez's recent struggles, but also did not attribute his performance Friday to Lopez being worn out. Lopez said he did not think fatigue is behind his slump.
"I mean we'll have to assess [fatigue]. I think that, like all of them, they're going through the rigors of the regular Major League long season, and sometimes they have their ups and downs," Renteria said. "But certainly, his work hasn't shown that to this point."
Lopez managed to work around some trouble, and the basepaths were largely empty on the Blue Jays' homers -- only one of the five home runs, Randal Grichuk's two-run jack in the second inning, came with runners on base. And immediately following the ejections of Renteria and Cooper, Lopez induced a double-play grounder and a strikeout.

Offensively, the White Sox couldn't do much against Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, who held Chicago's bats largely in check through 6 2/3 innings. Jose Abreu's third-inning RBI single and Adam Engel's seventh-inning RBI ground-rule double accounted for the only White Sox runs off Stroman.

White Sox bats heated up in the ninth against Toronto reliever Oliver Drake, scoring three runs. The bottom of the order contributed three extra-base hits, including Nicky Delmonico's second triple of the night, but Drake ultimately settled down to close out the game.
Thyago Vieira and Tyler Danish, both called up from Triple-A Charlotte before Friday's game, made their season debuts against the Blue Jays. Vieira struggled in 2/3 of an inning, allowing two runs and hitting two batters, while Danish pitched a perfect seventh.
To lodge, or not to lodge? With Curtis Granderson hitting in the fifth and the bases loaded, Vieira threw a ball in the dirt that got caught in home-plate umpire C.B. Bucknor's arm. Bucknor, realizing he was cradling the ball, almost immediately threw up his hands to signal a dead ball. However, during the confusion, Russell Martin -- the runner on third -- broke for the plate and nearly got caught in a rundown.
After a debate among the umpires, Martin was awarded home plate with the Blue Jays' ninth run and the other two runners advanced a base. Bench coach Joe McEwing, in charge following Renteria's ejection, argued with Bucknor and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth for several minutes to no avail.

"They said that the ball had lodged on C.B.," Renteria said. "My only contention is that a ball that is lodged cannot voluntarily release itself from a position of lodging, and that ball voluntarily released itself when he raised his hands. But I believe the rule they were talking about is that once a ball is lodged in the equipment and/or the body of an umpire, it's a dead ball, and runners are allowed to advance.
"But again, I didn't think it lodged in the mask, a shirt, it was in his arms and when he moved his arms the ball fell down. So again, my argument would simply be the definition of something being lodged. For me, I would have to remove it from its place. I don't think anybody removed it from its place."
Delmonico grounded out softly in his first two at-bats, but recorded triples in the seventh and ninth innings, the first multi-triple game of his career.

Third baseman/first baseman Matt Davidson, who has 15 home runs and 15 doubles this season, expressed a desire to add a little more pitching to his duties after throwing his second perfect relief inning this season in the ninth. He recorded a lineout and two groundouts, and threw eight of his 10 pitches for strikes.
"To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea," Davidson said. "Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out.
"That's how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson. So, it's something I would be interested in. I don't know if the game would necessarily allow that, or something like that. It's something that is really close to my heart."

Davidson threw a scoreless inning against the Rangers on June 29, and Friday became the first White Sox position player since Wayne Nordhagen in 1979 to pitch twice in a season. He incorporated a two-seamer into his repertoire, while being happy with his velocity being up from Texas. Although he hadn't pitched since high school in 2009, Davidson regularly throws off flat ground to be ready.
"I don't have any innings under my belt, so I think my arm is pretty good," Davidson said with a smile. "Whatever the team needs me to do. Like all of us here in this room, we just want to help this team win and contribute any way we can."
"He does have a good feel," Renteria said. "I think he even threw a side in L.A., but he enjoys the possibility of doing it. He's one of those guys, positionally speaking, you don't want to do it all the time, but you don't worry about him throwing strikes. He has a good feel for what he's doing."
The White Sox continue their series against the Blue Jays at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, with Lucas Giolito (7-8, 6.09 ERA) taking the hill. Giolito has thrown four quality starts in his last five outings and pitched to a 3.77 ERA in 31 innings, walking 17 and striking out 20. Saturday will mark his first career appearance against Toronto. The Blue Jays will counter with John Axford.

Max Gelman is a reporter for based in Chicago.