Floyd struggles as Orioles drop Sox

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Floyd struggles as Orioles drop Sox

A homestand that began with great promise ended with a thud Thursday, as the Orioles secured a series win with a 5-3 victory over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. After kicking off the seven-game stretch on the South Side with a pair of wins against the front-running Tigers, the Sox dropped four of their next five, including three of four to the perennial basement-dwellers of the American League East.

Gavin Floyd labored through six innings, allowing five runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The righty has now walked eight in 17 23 innings this season, although manager Robin Ventura isn't concerned with his high rate of free passes given his strikeout total is double his walk total.

"He strikes out a lot, too, so I think youre going to have a little bit of both," Ventura said after the game. "You want to cut those down, but he's still pitching fine."

Baltimore plated two runs right off the bat, with Adam Jones picking up the first of his three RBIs on a liner to right that Alex Rios played into a double. Nick Johnson followed that up with a groundout to bring home Baltimore's second run, representing the mustachioed DH's first RBI since May of 2010. The Orioles took the lead for good in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy and a two-run blast by Jones, his fifth home run of the season and second of the series.

"You want to keep the team in the game a little bit better," Floyd said. "I had an opportunity to -- you know, threw two there to Jones, I mean, with a base open, and hung probably one of the few breaking balls I did all day, and he hit it. Hes a good hitter. Hes hot right now. I probably should have kept that in mind better."

The Sox mounted a rally in the the third, tying the game on RBIs by Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. But the Sox could only muster two runs, as Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers both struck out with the bases loaded to end the White Sox threat. A ninth-inning rally also fell just shy, as the Sox loaded the bases with two out for Rios, who struck out looking to end the game.

Strikeouts continued to be an issue for the White Sox, who as as team whiffed 10 times in six innings against Orioles starter Jason Hammel. Those 10 strikeouts were a career-high for Hammel, who entered Thursday averaging about five strikeouts per nine innings since the start of the 2011 season.

"I made some good pitches," Hammel said. "I executed with two strikes. They're a very aggressive team, as well. They're going swing at bad stuff if you get ahead in the count. I think I exploited that today."

Dunn struck out to lead off the bottom of the fifth, with a smattering of boos greeting him as he trekked back to the dugout. The voiced displeasure probably wasn't deserved, though, as Dunn's strikeout broke a streak of reaching base on six consecutive plate appearances. He did strike out in his next at-bat, though, before delivering a key single in the ninth.

"I cant speak for everyone, I know me, I think Im being a little too selective and when Im getting myself in hitters counts they are making kind of pitchers pitches kind of things," Dunn said. "Im usually able to lay off and Im swinging at them."

Brent Lillibridge (3), Dayan Viciedo (3), Rios (3), Tyler Flowers (2) and Alejandro De Aza (2) all struck out multiple times as well, although Rios and De Aza each reached base twice. The Sox totaled 16 strikeouts in the game.

"I think some of them, you can put it down as maybe not having the right approach," Ventura said of the high strikeout total. "Some of them are just good pitches. It's going to happen. Other teams do strike out so it's maybe a little bit of both. You just try to learn from it and work on it and cut those down."

The problem certainly isn't confined to one or two players. Brent Morel and Gordon Beckham have 30 strikeouts between them, and neither player was in the starting lineup Thursday.

"Not everybody right now has the best feel they're going to have all year," Konerko explained. "No one's crazy besides A.J. Everybody's getting some hits here or there, but not locked.

"I think we'll get better with that as it goes on, especially the younger guys. Some of these guys have never faced these guys. It's just tough. The more they do, the better they'll be against them."

A much more encouraging trend also continued Thursday, with Flowers gunning down a pair of Orioles baserunners trying to steal second. Both Endy Chavez and Robert Andino were thrown out by the White Sox catcher, who is a perfect 4-4 in nailing would-be base-stealers this year. Combined with A.J. Pierzynski, Sox catchers have thrown all but one runner on seven opponent stolen base attempts this year.

The loss dropped the White Sox record against Baltimore to 20-25 since 2007. And while losing three of four to the Orioles isn't the best way to hit the road, the team is trying to stay positive early in the season.

"Other than the last four or five innings in Texas on the third night, we've either won been in every game up until the end. That's a good sign and I think that means guys are up there taking a lot of pride in their at-bats and the way they're going about it, and relievers are holding those games close when we are behind a few runs," Konerko said. "It's kind of as planned. You'd always like a 10-2 record after 12 games or something, but the way we're going about it, it's really good to see. We're doing it right and just have to keep trucking along."

Matt Davidson stays mentally involved for fourth consecutive game off

Matt Davidson stays mentally involved for fourth consecutive game off

Matt Davidson, despite a .324 batting average and 1.010 OPS, hasn't been in the White Sox starting lineup in four consecutive games. 

For Sunday's series finale against the Cleveland Indians, Melky Cabrera got the start at designated hitter (he banged up his wrist running into a wall in left field foul territory Saturday night) with Jacob May playing in left field. Cody Asche, who started at DH in the White Sox last three games and went 0-10, is on the bench. 

A few things to note about Davidson's absence: They've come against four of the American League's best right-handers in New York's Masahiro Tanaka and Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Entering Sunday's game, though, the White Sox haven't scored in their last 23 innings and only have had one runner reach second base in their last 20 frames. 

Manager Rick Renteria said ostensibly poor matchups for Davidson, who has 12 strikeouts in 23 plate appearances against right-handers this year, haven't been why he hasn't played him.

"It's not so much the matchup," Renteria said. "I think we have other guys we want to go ahead and give them the opportunity to face who they are facing today. Matty has shown he can hit anybody. It has nothing to do with it. It has more to do with putting the guys we have right now in a particular situation to experience this particular club."

Davidson said the gap in starts hasn't been an issue for him, since he's already dealt with a lull in playing time earlier this year. Davidson made his last Cactus League start March 28 and only had one at-bat between then and his regular season debut April 6, when he went 2-4 with a home run, a walk and three RBIs. 

"I'm just staying with my approach, I'm watching video and staying up just like I'd be playing," Davidson said. "As long as I'm doing that I think I'll give myself the best chance I can."

Davidson, who made his four seasons ago with the Arizona Diamondbacks, spent nearly three years in Triple-A after the White Sox acquired him in exchange for closer Addison Reed in December of 2013. When he finally broke through with the White Sox last year, he broke his foot in his first game back in the major leagues and missed the rest of the season. 

So while Davidson's starts and at-bats have been sporadic this season, he's not taking the chances he gets for granted. 

"All of a sudden you spend a couple more years in Triple-A and you see the same thing over and over again, and you really appreciate being up here," Davidson said. 

The White Sox upcoming three-game series should provide opportunities for Davidson to get back in Renteria's lineup, with left-handers Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy starting the first two games of the series for the Kansas City Royals. 

"You will see him in the lineup coming up a little bit more," Renteria said. "But we will continue to mix and match to do what we can to make sure everybody stays capable of what they need to do."

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May earned his first career hit on Saturday night when he singled up in the middle against Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, ending an 0-for-26 start to his major league career. That lengthy stretch without a hit put a weight on May's back heavier than a monkey, as the cliché usually goes.

Instead, that weight felt like America's favorite deceased silverback gorilla. 

"It was kind of like having Harambe on my back," May, a Cincinnati native, said. "I was in a chokehold because I couldn't breathe as well. Now that he's gone, hopefully I can have a lot of success and help this team win.

In all seriousness, May felt an extraordinary relief when he reached first base. He said first base coach Daryl Boston looked at him and said, "Finally," when he reached first base, and when he got back to the dugout, he was mobbed by his teammates and hugged by manager Rick Renteria.

Before anyone could congratulate him in the dugout, though, May let out a cathartic scream into his helmet.

"I was just like oh, man, I let loose a little bit," May said. "This locker room, every'one has kind of helped me out and brought me aside, and told me to just relax. It's a tough situation when you are trying to impress instead of going out there and having fun. Just kind of got to release all that tension built up."

May only had the opportunity to hit because left fielder Melky Cabrera injured his left wrist in the top of the seventh inning (X-Rays came back negative and Cabrera said he should be able to play Sunday). May didn't have much time to think about having to pinch hit for Cabrera, who was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, which Renteria figured worked in his favor.

"When we hit for Melky, I was talking to (bench coach Joe McEwing), I said, 'He's not going to have anytime to think about it. He's going to get into the box and keep it probably as simple as possible,'" Renteria said. "I don't think he even had enough time to put his guard on his shin. He just got a pitch out over the middle of the plate and stayed within himself and just drove it up the middle, which was nice to see. Obviously very excited for him."

When May reached first base, he received a standing ovation from the crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field, too, even with the White Sox well on their way to a 7-0 loss to the Indians. It's a moment May certainly won't forget anytime soon, especially now that he got Harambe off his back.

"I kind of soaked it all in," May said. "It was probably one of the most surreal, best experiences of my life."