CHICAGO -- White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez offered a glimpse of the future during Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Tigers.The young right-hander, acquired from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in 2016, tossed seven innings and gave up just one unearned run on two hits, while walking and striking
CHICAGO -- White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez offered a glimpse of the future during Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Tigers.
The young right-hander, acquired from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in 2016, tossed seven innings and gave up just one unearned run on two hits, while walking and striking out five. A central part of the White Sox rebuild, Lopez's strong start came on the heels of an equally impressive outing last week in Toronto.
Lopez now has seven quality starts in his last eight games dating to last September, and he is starting to establish himself as a force on the mound.
"He did a nice job and advanced last season with us," manager Rick Renteria said. "[He] has made some adjustments since the beginning of the season and is trying to make sure he commands the zone. I thought that today he went out and felt very good about where he was at."
Lopez's slider, a pitch he developed extensively in Spring Training, was particularly effective against Tigers hitters. He induced five swinging strikes on the slider, four of which came in two-strike counts.
"I've been happy with the way that pitch is working out for me because that's kind of a new pitch for me," Lopez said through translator Billy Russo. "I've been able to use it in an effective way."
Though Sunday's chilly weather made it difficult to get going offensively -- neither team recorded a hit after the third inning -- Lopez was nonetheless able to navigate out of a few jams, especially in the fourth. After retiring the first two batters, Lopez issued consecutive walks, but he struck out Jordan Hicks swinging to end the threat.
White Sox catcher Welington Castillo said he saw Lopez gaining confidence through his early success. That confidence will be key to Lopez's development going forward.
"He's always had the stuff, but now it's like he's starting to grow and know himself," Castillo said. "That's a guy who is really quiet, but he knows what he's capable of doing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Passed over: Following Leonys Martin's leadoff single and stolen base, Castillo was charged with a passed ball, allowing Martin to advance to third. Two pitches later, Martin scored on Jose Cabrera's sacrifice fly to left field, which was the difference in the game.
The best offense: Both teams had ample opportunity to tack on some runs, but were thwarted by solid defense. In the first, when the White Sox loaded the bases with one out, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias made a running backhand grab on a sinking Nicky Delmonico line drive. Then in the sixth, Delmonico responded in kind with a sliding catch to rob Michael Mahtook of a hit.
"I've been working hard since Spring Training trying to get better, and I think that right now, I've been able to deliver. These first two outings have been good and those are just the first two good outings that are coming. I'm expecting more in the future." -- Lopez, on his first two starts of the season
Reliever Bruce Rondon, whose contract was purchased by the White Sox from Triple-A Charlotte prior to the contest, logged 1 1/3 innings in relief and fanned former teammate Cabrera to close out the eighth, one of four straight strikeouts recorded by the hard-throwing right-hander.
"It was a really nice experience for me because I knew I was facing one of the best hitters in the world, for me the best," Rondon said through translator Billy Russo. "To be able to face him and to strike him out was a really, really good experience."
"His slider was really good today," Castillo said. "Fastball was really good, so he just came in the game and attacked the hitters."
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will be aiming to bounce back from a tough first start as the White Sox open a three-game series with the Rays at 1:10 p.m. CT on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Gonzalez gave up six runs (five earned) in five innings in his season debut at Toronto.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.