NEW YORK — The old kick-the-ball-around, lose-one-in-the-sun White Sox resurfaced on Saturday afternoon.
And while the 2014 team has made significant gains over last season’s mess, Saturday afternoon’s 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees offered evidence that far more progress is needed for the White Sox to get back into contention.
Scott Carroll allowed five runs (four earned) over six innings but could have had a much better line had it not been for runs created by a routine fly ball turned into a double and a miscommunication at the plate. Jose Abreu drove in his 94th run but the White Sox have now lost five straight and 12 of 16 as they dropped to a season-worst 11 games below .500.
“Defensively we put (Carroll) in some (tough) situations,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We make some mistakes out there and with a lineup like this they will grind you. He pitched fairly well but you set him up with not making plays behind and then walking a couple guys. Put those guys in scoring position and they know how to get them in.”
Carroll was fortunate to complete six innings with the way his defense performed behind him.
He got himself into trouble in the second inning when he issued a leadoff walk to Mark Teixeira. But on the ensuing play, rookie Carlos Sanchez booted a grounder to second and Martin Prado followed that with a bunt single to load the bases.
The error was the 83rd committed by the White Sox, who are on pace to make 104 this season. Last season the White Sox made 121 errors.
Carroll escaped that situation with only an unearned run allowed as he got a run-scoring double play off Chase Headley’s bat that tied it at 1 and another grounder.
Two innings later, however, Carroll’s day got a little worse when Alejandro De Aza lost a routine Brian McCann fly ball in the sun and turned it into a double. Carroll issued a walk and gave up a single and a double as two runs scored and New York took a 3-1 lead. Later in the inning, Carroll had to throw several more pitchers after Sanchez tried to throw out Ichiro Suzuki at first when he could have flipped it to second for an easy force play.
The combination of it all, including the three walks he issued, left Carroll frustrated.
“That fourth inning was a stressful one,” Carroll said. “I threw a lot of pitches. That’s what is weird and frustrating about baseball. But that’s why we love it because there are so many things that can happen. That’s what is frustrating is that this line isn’t indicative of how well I can throw the ball.”
Carroll was a ground-ball machine on Saturday as he got more than a dozen balls hit on the ground.
He did surrender one long fly ball when Carlos Beltran hit a leadoff homer in the sixth inning to push the Yankees lead to 4-2 and Prado followed with a double.
But Prado scored as the result of poor communication between Carroll and catcher Adrian Nieto on a play at the plate.
With one out and Prado on third, Stephen Drew hit a fly ball to right field that Avisail Garcia caught before he fired a one-hop strike home. But Nieto, hearing Carroll yell to Abreu to not cut the ball off, didn’t retrieve a throw because he thought the pitcher was yelling at him. Had Nieto caught the one-hopper he might have had a play at the plate as the throw appeared to beat Prado home.
“The way he was throwing didn’t seem like he gave up five runs,” Nieto said. “Unfortunately that ball got in the sun for De Aza and they scored a couple of runs there. That’s tough when that happens.”
The White Sox offense couldn’t keep pace.
They scored a run in the second inning on consecutive doubles by Conor Gillaspie and Alexei Ramirez. But Hiroki Kuroda took over and allowed only one more run on Abreu’s RBI single in the fifth.
Sanchez had an RBI groundout in the sixth against Shawn Kelley but the White Sox didn’t score again and Carroll lost for the eighth time in 13 decisions.
“As far as competing and giving us a chance (Carroll) was good enough to do that,” Ventura said. “We need to help him defensively and offensively. He pitched well enough.”