Reynaldo Lopez strong, but struggling White Sox still swept by Astros

SHARE Reynaldo Lopez strong, but struggling White Sox still swept by Astros
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Reynaldo Lopez pitches against the Astros on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field. | David Banks/Getty Images

Other than right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, there haven’t been many positives for the White Sox.

That trend continued Sunday.

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Lopez, who was battling a stomachache, continued his strong start to the season in the Sox’ 7-1 loss to the Astros. Though he walked four and needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, Lopez allowed one run and four hits against one of baseball’s best teams. His ERA actually rose to 1.50, and it was Lopez’s fourth consecutive start in which he allowed fewer than two earned runs.

“I’m always trying to improve,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘I’m always trying to make adjustments. If I had a good outing, it’s what I did in that outing, what I can do better for the next one. I’m always trying to find ways to get better. I think that’s the only way you can be successful at this level.”

Lopez, however, is still looking for his first win of the year. And it has been awhile since his team has had a victory of its own.

Thanks to a five-run seventh against relievers Aaron Bummer (0-1), Bruce Rondon and Nate Jones, the Sox dropped their seventh game in a row and fell 10 games below .500. They were outscored 27-2 during the weekend sweep and dipped to 1-8 at home, and they’re off to their worst 18-game start (4-14) since 1948, when they had a 3-15 start.

Other than Lopez, the only so-called positive would be how the Sox avoided allowing at least 10 runs for the first time in four games.

Manager Rick Renteria, though, isn’t concerned about morale.

“Look, the only guy that can bring these guys down is going to be me,’’ Renteria said, ‘‘and that’s not going to happen. I’ll pick these guys up every day, not that they need it.

‘‘But understand this, and you guys know this because you’ve been around it a long time, no one likes walking away from any activity, any competition, on the bottom side of the outcome. No one. So they’re having to understand and appreciating and respecting the loss knowing what’s going on, and then they’ve got to put it to bed, and they’ve got to get ready for the next one.

“I wouldn’t worry about their morale. We’re going to keep going.”

Of course, the Astros went through peaks and valleys during a rebuild that led to last year’s World Series title. They lost at least 106 games three times this decade, including 111 in 2013.

Thanks to all the talent the Astros amassed, things turned for them, and they have a legitimate shot to repeat. The Sox aren’t there yet, and this weekend showed how far they have to go.

“We understand that we’re kind of in the middle of a rebuild,” Tim Anderson said. “Struggling is going to happen. Just got to learn from it and just keep playing.”

If and when the Sox reach the heights of the Astros, Lopez could be partly responsible. He’s limiting opponents to a .150 average and beginning to harness his electric stuff, like he did to keep the powerful Astros in check.

“It’s impressive for anyone, and in particular against a club like this that he faced today,” Renteria said. “I think he looks at every single club the same. He puts a plan together. All these guys sit down together; they put plans together. It’s about execution and performance, though, and today he executed well enough to contain them to one run through five innings. He kept us in the ballgame.”


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