Paul Konerko returns to White Sox lineup after benching

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Might this be the beginning of the end for Paul Konerko?

Konerko, who turned 37 years old in March, is hitting just .214 with a .623 OPS and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has decided to bench him for the past two games. And possibly more.

Konerko handled it well following a conversation with Ventura, telling Nate Sandell of MLB.com:

I came in ready to play. … Obviously I could have played yesterday. I could have played today. So it’s not like I’m out for some reason. I’m trusting him on that and trying to make the best of it.

For now the plan is for Konerko to rejoin the lineup, hopefully re-energized, but at age 37 there may not be a lot left to re-energize. Konerko had good all-around numbers last season, but struggled down the stretch by hitting just .243 with a .733 OPS in August and September. Add it all up and Konerko has hit .231 with a .297 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage in 82 games dating back to August 1.

UPDATE: Konerko is back in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Twins.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.