Josh Phegley provided a spark, but it wasn't enough.
The last-place White Sox slipped to 18 games under .500 with an 8-2 loss to the Cubs Monday night, even as Phegley made a solid first impression on the 31,552 fans during his home debut at U.S. Cellular Field.
Phegley homered on the first swing he took on the South Side, belting a Matt Garza fastball over the left field wall in the third inning. In the seventh, and with the score tied at two, Phegley threw behind Julio Borbon and picked him off first base after Starlin Castro struck out.
"You're hoping it was tied and he was coming up late, the way he was playing and the way the game was going," manager Robin Ventura said.
But Phegley struck out in the seventh, and the Cubs plated five runs off Matt Thornton and Nate Jones in the eighth to pull away and secure a season series sweep of the White Sox.
The Sox struggled to mount many scoring threats off Garza, who scattered five hits with no walks and six strikeouts in seven innings of work. Alexei Ramirez doubled with one out in the fifth, which Phegley followed by drawing three straight balls. Aiming to ride the hot hand and to see what his young catcher would do in the situation, Ventura gave Phegley the green light, but he grounded out to short.
"It was probably too aggressive, it was probably ball four down, I think," Phegley said. "I kind of shot myself in the foot on that one. I'll try to not get to geeked up next time, but he was throwing me a lot of strikes so I was just ready to jump on a fastball."
While Phegley has generated plenty of buzz since his promotion last Friday, the White Sox are winless with him behind the plate. There's not any cause-and-effect there, as Phegley has done his part with two home runs and four RBIs in 11 plate appearances.
He's done the kind of things that could spark a stuck-in-the-mud team, but instead, the White Sox continue to slip deeper and deeper into their last-place hole.
"Little things like that help out and get us going in the dugout and on the field, get a little jump or energy, kickstart us or something like that," starter Hector Santiago, who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday, said. "Definitely, he's been hitting the ball well and for the most part doing everything that he needs to do."
But for these White Sox, getting that spark from just one player hasn't been enough.
"I definitely wanted to get a win for us," Phegley said. "The home run was nice, but just like the past one I hit it'd be a lot better if we'd come out on top."