Nearly three-quarters of the White Sox games have been decided by three runs or fewer this season.
The majority of those decisions haven’t gone in the club’s favor.
One might say playing in a number of tight games lends to the idea that the White Sox, as hideous as they have been at times, aren’t far off from a winning squad.
But White Sox manager Robin Ventura has seen more than enough close losses this season to see the other side of the coin.
So while there were good signs in the a 4-3 White Sox loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, the acceptance of the outcome isn’t easy for Ventura. The White Sox fell to 22-33 in one-run games this season even though John Danks overcame a rough start to retire the final 16 batters he faced.
“There’s too many (disappointments),” Ventura said. “You get that feeling. We’ve had a lot of ‘em. Base hit here, base hit there, a defensive play here, a pitch made, that’s what hurts about one-run games. When you’re getting beat by seven or eight it’s a different story. With this many one-run games, it’s that one extra hit you get.”
What made Wednesday’s finale disappointing was how the White Sox appeared to be in line for a blow out quickly only to rally late.
Whereas he had command of his changeup and fastball from the third inning on, peppering the zone at will with strikes and inducing grounders, Danks couldn’t find much in the first two innings.
Minnesota grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Oswaldo Arcia’s two-out RBI single and didn’t look back.
Four of the first five batters had hits in the second inning including doubles by Ryan Doumit and Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier had a two-out RBI single as the Twins grabbed a 4-0 lead.
“Obviously, I’d like those first couple of innings back,” Danks said. “I just didn’t make good enough pitches and they hit them.”
Said Ventura: “Early on he just didn’t have a feel up in the zone and they made him pay for it.”
But after Danks retired Trevor Plouffe to end the second he got on a roll.
The left-hander became a ground ball machine as he retired the side in order in innings three through seven. Of the 16 straight outs Danks recorded, 12 were on the ground. That was one positive for Danks -- who allowed four earned runs and seven hits over seven innings -- to take considering he has yielded 28 home runs in 138 1/3 innings this season.
“I made better pitches,” Danks said. “There are some things I did today that were good. Obviously, the first two innings weren’t. I think I probably got more ground balls today than I had all year. That’s definitely a main focus of mine this offseason, that’s how you keep the ball in the ballpark and give yourself a chance to go deeper in the game.”
The White Sox gave themselves a chance for a series sweep as they rallied against Twins pitcher Scott Diamond.
Alejandro De Aza led off the fourth inning with a solo home run, his 16th.
Then in the seventh the White Sox knocked Diamond out of the game when Jordan Danks singled in Paul Konerko, who walked, and Marcus Semien, who had doubled.
But the White Sox could have tied the game or pulled ahead in the seventh if not for more wasted chances in the sixth.
Catcher Josh Phegley led off the inning with a double off Diamond but was thrown out on the next play when he tried to advance to third on Leury Garcia’s grounder to shortstop. Phegley was the 13 th White Sox runner thrown out at third base this season and the club’s 50 th overall not counting pickoffs or caught stealing.
The White Sox still had a chance as Garcia moved into scoring position when De Aza reached on an error. But Diamond got Alexei Ramirez to fly out to deep center and Dayan Viciedo flew out to right to strand the pair.
“That’s what makes it tougher every night to come back is you’re close but you don’t get it done,” Ventura said. “Sports in general, when you’re close and you don’t get it done, it always stings more.”