Perfection

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Perfection

Philip Humber dropped to his knees. Brendan Ryan had swung at his 3-2 breaking ball, which was in the left-handers batter's box. It rolled away from A.J. Pierzynski, who didn't look like a 35-year-old backstop the way he pounced on the ball and threw to first.

The ball easily beat Ryan to the bag. Philip Humber had thrown a perfect game. He was mobbed by his teammates, with the sight a familiar one to White Sox fans. Less than three years ago, Mark Buehrle accomplished the same feat against Tampa Bay, although he needed a spectacular catch by Dewayne Wise to save his perfecto.

Humber needed no such play. He absolutely mowed the Mariners down, only needing 97 pitches to retire all 27 batters. He struck out nine, with every Mariners starter except shortstop Munenori Kawasaki going down on strikes. Even Ichiro.

It was the third perfect game in White Sox history Saturday afternoon against Seattle, joining Charlie Robinson (1922) and Buehrle (2009) to accomplish the feat in a Sox uniform.

He previously had a brush with history, taking a no-hitter into the seventh against the Yankees last April -- nearly a year ago to the date of today's game.

Struggling White Sox face daunting schedule

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Struggling White Sox face daunting schedule

It’s not about to get any easier for the White Sox.

A team that has lost 11 of its last 15 games and has had trouble at the plate is headed out on a three-city, 10-game road trip. The White Sox begin a four-game series at the Kansas City Royals on Thursday before playing three against the New York Mets. After a day off, the White Sox resume their trip with three at the Detroit Tigers starting next Friday.

It wouldn’t appear to be an easy recipe for a team that has lost its last five series and won only one of its last eight.

"There’s always a tough team on the other end of that," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We just have to regroup, whether it’s at home or on the road and do better at producing when you get opportunities and guys on base."

The White Sox have averaged 2.83 runs per contest over their last dozen. In that span, they’ve hit just .200 with runners in scoring position, going 18-for-90 with four doubles, a homer and 23 RBIs.

Ten of those games came at U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox went 3-7 on a homestand against the Houston Astros, Royals and Cleveland Indians. For the team to get back on track, it will have to tap into the formula it has used on the road so far. The White Sox are 14-9 on the road this season and have averaged 4.74 runs per game compared to 3.48 in 25 home games.

"We don’t mind playing on the road," outfielder Adam Eaton said. "We kind of come together as a team, an us-versus-the-world-type mentality that we kind of enjoy. It’s a long road trip. It’s always big going on the road, especially when you’re playing divisional opponents. But as I mentioned (earlier), I could really care less. We take it one game at a time, it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound, division or non-division, we want to win the game. We want to score more runs than the next guy. That’s how we’re going to continue to approach. It’s a solid approach in my opinion, and we’ve had success with it earlier in the season. We’ll try to get back to that, get the offense going."

White Sox offense stays in a funk in loss to Indians

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White Sox offense stays in a funk in loss to Indians

Early in their 10-game homestand, Jimmy Rollins said when the White Sox score a run for Chris Sale it can feel like four to opponents.

Ditto for the White Sox offense, which is stuck in a deep freeze.

Despite a little late noise on Wednesday afternoon, the White Sox couldn’t find their way out of a funk that has now lasted a dozen games.

Corey Kluber pitched seven sharp innings and the White Sox lost their third straight to the Cleveland Indians, falling 4-3 in front of 22,561 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox -- who have produced three or fewer runs in nine of 12 games -- lost their fifth straight series, dropping three of four to Cleveland. The team’s lead in the American League Central has slipped to a half game after losing 11 of its last 15.

“We’re not putting up runs, that’s the bottom line,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “When your pitchers are busting their tail, we have to find a way to stop the burning and get some runs in.”

Melky Cabrera provided temporary relief with one out in the eighth inning with a two-run homer off Byran Shaw to get the White Sox within a run. Jose Abreu also singled off Shaw to give him three hits for a second straight game and put the tying run aboard. But Shaw got Brett Lawrie to foul out and Dioner Navarro grounded out to first base.

Indians closer Cody Allen retired the White Sox in order in the ninth inning.

Until recently, the White Sox have given themselves plenty of chances. They entered Wednesday with a .322 on-base percentage. But over their last dozen, the White Sox have a .289 OBP.

Kluber limited the White Sox to four at-bats with a runner in scoring position in the finale, allowing seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out nine.  

The right-hander was effective in keeping the White Sox cold in their limited chances.

Jimmy Rollins made the final out of the third inning with a groundout with a man in scoring position and flew out with two on to end the fifth. Adam Eaton -- who went 0-for-5 -- struck out ahead of Rollins in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh with a runner in scoring position.

The White Sox are 18-for-90 (.200) with four doubles, a home run and 23 RBIs with runners in scoring position in their last 12 games.

“Got runners on first and third less than two outs and I don’t get the job done, that’s unacceptable,” Eaton said. “It’s tough.

“We’ve got to score more runs, pitching has been there.

“We’ve got to step it up.”

An ineffective offense hurt White Sox starter Jose Quintana yet again.

He struggled early and found himself deep in a number of counts, but recovered to give the White Sox six solid innings.

Lonnie Chisenhall put Cleveland ahead for good in the second inning with a two-out, two-run triple to right field. Eaton just missed as he tried to making a spectacular diving grab, which allowed the ball to go to the wall.

The Indians added a run in the third off Quintana on a Juan Uribe sac fly.

Quintana retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. He allowed three earned runs and five hits with a walk in six innings. Quintana struck out eight.

Now the White Sox have to find their bats as they head back onto the road. The team has actually fared better away from U.S. Cellular Field this season, going 14-9 with an average of 4.74 runs a game compared to 3.48 in 25 home games.

But the White Sox are headed to Kansas City for four, followed by three against the New York Mets and three in Detroit.

“You keep going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You regroup. You get going. We had our big guys going and it didn’t go well for us. Offensively we can do some more.”

Adam Eaton's defense has forced White Sox to change plans for Avisail Garcia

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Adam Eaton's defense has forced White Sox to change plans for Avisail Garcia

Adam Eaton’s outstanding defensive play in right field has altered the team’s original plans to give Avisail Garcia some playing time there.

Through 47 games, Eaton has played at a Gold Glove-level for the White Sox. He leads all major league defenders with 14 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), according to fangraphs.com, which has made it impossible to play Garcia in the field. That has White Sox manager Robin Ventura considering other ways to get Garcia on the field, including taking fly balls in left.

“The emergence of Adam out in right field has made it different,” Ventura said. “It’s a different spot for (Garcia). Eventually he’ll be back out there, but right now, what works for us is Adam in right field.”

“Adam has been above and beyond what we really thought he would be in right field.”

Garcia, 24, has nearly been relegated to full-time duty as the team’s designated hitter in 2016. He has a total of 16 innings played in the outfield.

Last year, Garcia started 129 games in the outfield. But his collective struggles — Garcia produced minus-11 DRS in 2015 — with Eaton’s forced the White Sox to look for a defensive-minded center fielder this offseason. Whereas last year the White Sox outfield was 26th of 30 with minus-22 DRS, this season they’re fifth overall at 7 DRS with Austin Jackson patrolling center.

The team’s defense has been a critical part to the club’s early success, which makes it nearly impossible for Eaton to sit. Garcia could see time in right field on days when Eaton needs to rest. But he’s more likely to force Melky Cabrera to the bench for a day or two and has worked to prepare for such an occasion.

“He’s getting some fly balls out there,” Ventura said. “That’s probably going to be really the rotation starts coming in for him to be able to get out there and get on the field. Or if something comes up with Adam or we want to DH. I even thought of that the other night during the DH. Again, Adam feels like he’s good enough to keep going.”