Another day, another close game and another batch of errors. The story is getting all too familiar for the White Sox.
Night after night, poor fielding has plagued the Sox and it cost them again Saturday, when a third-inning throwing error by Tyler Greene extended an inning that saw the Angels score the go-ahead run on a passed ball. The Halos held on for their second win over the Sox in as many nights, taking this one 3-2, and the Sox added three errors to their ugly season total in front of 28,774 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout put the visitors on the board early, as the game’s second hitter smashed a two-run homer to center off Sox starter Jose Quintana. The Sox answered back, however, in the bottom of the second, getting RBI singles from Greene and Alejandro De Aza to tie the game.
But the third inning brought the deciding tally. Albert Pujols singled with one out and remained at first base after a Mark Trumbo fly out. Josh Hamilton grounded to second, which should have resulted in an inning-ending out, but Greene’s throw bounced wide of Adam Dunn at first. Hamilton was safe, and Pujols advanced to third with the inning extended. During Howie Kendrick’s at-bat, Pujols came home to score on a Tyler Flowers passed ball, and the Angels recaptured the lead.
Greene’s error proved to be the most costly of the Sox’s trio of defensive miscues Saturday. The first came when De Aza struggled to pick up a Hamilton double, and the slugger made his way to third base in the first inning. And Dunn dropped a Pujols pop up in the fifth, though he managed to retire Pujols with a throw to Quintana, who was covering first. The Sox committed a total of five errors in the first two games of the weekend set against the Angels and now have 27 on the season.
[Friday's recap: Defense fails Sox again in loss to Angels]
Sox manager Robin Ventura said the continued miscues aren’t mental mistakes but rather of the physical variety.
“You know again, that’s just physical. I don’t think that’s anything mental. Not being in the right position or things like that,” Ventura said. “Physical stuff, you get. But you know it’s just one of those that you do have to do it better. It’s that simple.”
Ventura was upset that the errors put Quintana on the wrong side of the night, as he picked up his first loss of the season. Despite the early home run and a high pitch count, the lefty made it through six innings and faced the minimum over his final three frames. It was the fourth time this season he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer.
“He just has guts,” Ventura said of his pitcher. “He kind of battled his way through it, he was bobbing and weaving and they had some guys on. He did well enough to keep us in it and give us a chance. I think playing-wise, we aren’t helping him. We are putting him in a tough bind, and he ended up losing the game because of it.”
Also not helping Quintana’s cause was the Sox offense, which was held in check by Angels starter Jerome Williams. The Sox’s second inning accounted for five of their eight hits -- which were all singles -- and their only real scoring threat.
“There will be some nights where those balls fall, but you’ve got to kind of make your breaks. You can’t expect as a hitter or as a team that every ball you hit well and every good at-bat is going to result in a hit,” Paul Konerko said. “You have to be good a lot of the time just to get the expected results. You have to be good more than just that. You can’t just be that every time.”
[More: Patient Hahn looking for Sox to right the ship]
The defeat makes it five losses in the Sox’s last seven games, and seven losses in their last 10 games at U.S. Cellular Field. Between the inconsistent run production and bevy of fielding mistakes, the Sox aren’t in the best of places. That’s likely why Ventura held a team meeting before Saturday’s game.
“It’s just at a point where I needed to say some stuff, and I did,” Ventura said.
Konerko said there wasn’t too much anger but that the mood was hardly upbeat. And though the pregame get-together didn’t yield a win Saturday, the veteran expanded on his hopes for a Sox turnaround.
“Sometimes with meetings like that, it doesn’t come out right away. It might take a few days or have a delayed effect,” Konerko said. “Everybody’s working, it’s just a tough thing sometimes. I assure everybody that the mistakes we make or the hits we don’t get or any of that stuff is coming from a place of trying too hard [more] than it is not working.
“This is what we do, and we work hard all offseason, we work hard in spring training. You know there’s no guarantees, but this stuff happens. You hope like hell it’s not you and it’s not your team. You know what? It’s our team this year so far, and you just have to kind of realize that. Sometimes when you just admit it, ‘Yeah, we’re that team right now,’ maybe it turns after that instead of fighting it. Maybe that’s the case, I don’t know. I feel that if you just keep going at it the right way, it’s got to come out. You’ve got to believe that.”