Lopez shaky, unable to escape 1st inning

September 1st, 2019

ATLANTA -- Since the All-Star break, had acquitted himself well with a 2.82 ERA in nine starts entering Saturday night. His second-half resurgence was aided by regained control of his slider that’s held opponents to a .180 (9-for-50) batting average.

The matchup with the Braves seemed to line up in Lopez’s favor. He owned a 2.25 career ERA against Atlanta and recently took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Twins on Aug. 25.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria looked for a solid start out of his veteran starter.

“He’s been slowly, but surely getting back to who he is,” Renteria said prior to the game. “He’s been throwing the ball very well. Hopefully, he can eat up some innings for us today and keep us in the ball game.”

However, Lopez couldn’t make it out of the first inning. The Braves walloped Lopez with six runs on six hits en route to an 11-5 victory.

“Today was a tough go,” Renteria said. “It was another game where [the Braves] jump on you hard. Our guys again didn’t let down and they kept trying to tack on and score some runs. They did, but it just wasn’t enough.”

Two crucial plays cost Lopez a chance to pitch further into the game. A passed ball got by and contributed to the Braves taking the lead. A couple of batters later, Braves catcher reached on an infield single with two outs. The ball hit the third-base bag, and all runners were safe.

Forced to get an extra out, Lopez surrendered four more runs to end his night. He would exit after recording just two outs.

“When you combine bad luck with a bad outing, it is a disaster,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “That is what happened.”

It was Lopez's third poor outing in his past four starts. He allowed five runs against the Angels on Aug. 15 and seven runs against the Twins on Aug. 20.

“We were looking to get a nice outing out of him, and they got to him early,” Renteria said. “Those guys were able to string together some good at-bats.”

The Braves were aggressive and attacked early in the count. Lopez left his fastball up in the zone, and the Braves took advantage. provided the big blow as he deposited 94.6-mph fastball for a ground-rule double.

Lopez’s fastball averaged 95 mph on the radar, marking his lowest velocity since the All-Star break.

“Yes, [my velocity] was [down] a little bit, but I don’t think it was the reason for the bad outing,” Lopez said.

The White Sox hope Lopez can shake off this current spell. The team believes in him and wants to see improved consistency.

“He is struggling with that this year a little bit,” Renteria said. “We are trying to get him back on track. I know we have a little over a month left. In the starts that he has left, we would like for him to get on track and really finish well into the winter. That will be our goal right now.”

Lopez agreed. He plans to continue pressing forward in the final month of the season.

“I just got to keep working and doing the same routine,” Lopez said. “I think with one bad outing, you can’t change what you have been doing. For me, I just got to keep working hard.”

Despite a slow start, the White Sox attempted to rebound with a seventh-inning rally. and each collected an RBI in a three-run frame. Jimenez had three of the club’s 13 hits on the night.

However, the Braves responded with four additional runs to close it out. The White Sox lost their fifth straight and dropped to 60-75 on the season.