White Sox look for first win post ASG against Rays

Field Level Media

Chicago White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez pledged to make the second half of his season better than his first.

After limiting the Oakland Athletics to one unearned run in six innings in a no-decision on Sunday, Lopez is on his way to accomplishing that objective. To make the resurgence stand, however, he'll need to maintain a newfound mental command, continuing with Friday's visit to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I kept my focus, no matter the situation, during (Sunday's) game," Lopez said through a translator. "In the first half, there was always something that made me lose focus. That was the key: I didn't let anything bother me."

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Collectively, Chicago has sputtered out of the second-half gate, losing its first seven games after the All-Star break.

The White Sox hope Lopez (4-8, 5.97 ERA) can produce another solid start as the club looks to reverse course at the end of a 10-game road trip.

"The All-Star break gives everybody a chance to take a step back," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "A lot of it has more to do with conviction and a mindset. He's got the stuff. (Sunday) was a tremendously positive outing for him. He was challenged, and he responded."

While the Rays enter the series at 13 games above .500, their run differential is minus-45 in going 5-12 against the New York Yankees and plus-135 in compiling a 51-31 record against the rest of major league baseball.

The Yankees swept the Rays in a doubleheader on Thursday to take three games in a four-game set.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash acknowledged his club's uneven performance against the Yankees, but is hopeful the Rays still can draw positives from playing in the Bronx -- the result notwithstanding.

"It can help us," Cash said. "It should help us. When there's a lot of fans in the seats ... that's what you see in postseason baseball, so hopefully this will help us. ... If we've got to take some tough-luck losses, get hit in the face a little bit here and there to make us better for a September-October run, that'd be nice."

The Rays' bullpen struggled in New York, namely on Tuesday, when the relief corps was unable to protect leads of 3-1 in the sixth and 3-2 in the eighth en route to an 8-3 defeat. Cash discussed the importance of not only better performance from pitchers, but of inflating their cushion whenever possible.

"I would say it's more or less us not scoring enough runs," Cash said. "We've got to score more runs and make that gap a little bit bigger. You're not going to do it every night, but ... if we can get something going offensively early, it would be nice."

Cash told reporters after Thursday's doubleheader that rookie left-hander Brendan McKay would "most likely" start against the White Sox. McKay is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts this season but has not faced Chicago in his brief career.

Lopez is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts against the Rays, with four home runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings. He yielded three of those round-trippers in an April 10 home loss to Tampa Bay, scattering eight runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

--Field Level Media

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