Keeping cool in big moments making difference for White Sox’ Lopez

SHARE Keeping cool in big moments making difference for White Sox’ Lopez
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Reynaldo Lopez pitches against the Yankees on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

CLEVELAND — White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez says he has a handle on his engine that would run too hot in big moments, which is a good thing with the Cubs coming to Guaranteed Rate Field for three games starting Friday.Lopez, 24, faces the North Siders for the first time Friday, and close to a full house is expected.“I know there’s going to be a big crowd; the ballpark might be sold out,’’ he said. “And that makes it fun because you can feel the energy.’’Lopez (6-9, 4.05 ERA) is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.67 and 28 strikeouts in 27 innings in his last four starts. In his last 10 outings, he’s 2-1 with a 3.88 ERA. He said the biggest thing in his recent good run is dealing with surges of energy running through his veins and not “putting added pressure” on himself and reaching back for extra in two-strike counts.“Even when I was pitching well, there were times when I would get overexcited when I’d get two strikes on a hitter,’’ he said. “I would be super-hyped, and I’d try to finish off a batter, and it would backfire on me. Now it’s just, keep it simple, execute every pitch and be in control of the whole game when I’m on the mound. Maintain the same level of intensity. That has been the big key.’’The Sox won one of three games against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and manager Rick Renteria tweaked his rotation to have Carlos Rodon, their ERA leader among starters, pitch Sunday.The intensity figures to be running higher than usual with a big crowd of fans from both sides of town.“What we need to do is play good baseball,” said Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014. “If we play good baseball, we have a chance. And if we don’t, we won’t.’’RELATED

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• Sports media: Hawk Harrelson’s unique broadcasting will be missedThe Sox are trying to avoid 100 losses, and the Cubs are in first place in the National League Central, trying to hold off the Brewers with 10 games to go.The Sox know they can be a spoiler.“I see them like any other team,’’ Lopez said. “As a pitcher, you have to. For me, it’s just another game to perform my best.’’Abreu doubtfulAn infection on his right thigh likely will keep Jose Abreu out of the lineup against the Cubs. Abreu spent a night in a Cleveland hospital, watched a game at the team hotel and was at the ballpark for the series finale, although walking with a slight limp. Abreu is taking antibiotics for the infection, which stemmed from a hair follicle.† Outfielder Nicky Delmonico was still dealing with a stiff neck, Renteria said, and Welington Castillo is nursing a sore left elbow. Both are day-to-day.TicketsScattered seats were available for the Saturday and Sunday games against the Cubs, with sellouts expected on those days. As of Thursday afternoon, a few thousand seats remained for Friday.

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