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Lopez’s gem ices White Sox series win

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Eight innings of shutout ball, eight Ks, two hits, 88 game score — and ace status restored

Smiles All Around: After vehemently talking his way out of being removed in the eighth, Lopez rewarded manager Ricky Renteria with a punch out of Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.

Let’s take a second to marvel at what a gem the Chicago White Sox have in Reynaldo López.

Of course, it’s easy to jog a victory lap when the 24-year-old paints a masterpiece like he did today: Eight innings, two hits, two walks, eight strikeouts and a delicious 88 game score, pacing the way for a 3-0 win over the Texas Rangers and securing the White Sox’s first series win this season outside of Kansas City.

No, López is just a joy to watch pitch. He’s competitive, natch. But there’s also a spirit that you don’t see very often in any player, much less a younger guy still feeling his way. It’s easy to celebrate Yolmer Sánchez — himself a relatively young player — and his wackiness. But López brings equal parts smile and fire to the field, and it’s just delightful to watch.

I mean, c’mon, how can you not love this?

And that K, on López’s final pitch of the game in the eighth, came after Ricky Renteria walked to the mound, presumably to yank López in favor of lefty-on-fire Jace Fry with Texas’ hottest hitter (Shin-Soo Choo) coming to the plate.

To Renteria’s credit, he listened to López’s appeal to finish out the frame, delivered vociferously. Once Ricky gave Reynaldo the go-ahead to get Choo, and adrenalin-addled López whacked catcher Welington Castillo’s chest protector repeatedly. And once the righthander hit the dugout, the kudos — Lopez had just thrown the longest outing of his career and the White Sox season, as well as recorded the staff’s highest game score — poured in. The best came when López approached the end of the dugout, and Renteria; the manager smiled like a happy father, gave his young pitcher an affectionate tap on the cheek, and a big hug. The pride in López’s eyes was priceless.

The offense revealed itself early, if not often, against minor threat Mike Minor, starting for the Rangers. Castillo hit a solo bomb deep to left in the second, getting Hawk Harrelson all riled up with a call of “he barbecued it!”

In the third, left fielder Leury García made up for an early misplay that charged López with a double instead of a line out, blooping a one-out, two-run single to score Adam Engel and Tim Anderson. Anderson was flying on contact, nearly catching the speedy Engel as the two crossed the plate. It was a super-aggressive take, one that could have blown up into an inning-ending double play. But TA made the right read, and, along with his team-leading 11th steal of the season, once again impacted a game with his wheels.

Overall, though, the offense was a bit flaccid, getting just two runners into scoring position and striking out 13 times, nine vs. the normally-ineffectual Minor.

López wasn’t the only Sox hurler to have a memorable day. Fry came on in the ninth and punched out two to earn his first career save. The lefthander extended his seasonlong hitless streak to eight innings.

And, finally, there was this (sorry, MLB is sticky when it comes to video that’s not tweeted out by the White Sox account):

Sitaspell, Take Your Shoes Off: Wherein Hawk reveals he loves nothing more than to watch Walker, Texas Ranger while sipping Smirnoff. Yaz didn’t know what hit him.