Even the upstart White Sox offense is entitled to an off night every once in a while.
Perhaps it was the frigid temperatures on Saturday night. John Danks took blame for making his teammates stand around too long.
Or maybe the league’s leading offense just didn’t have it.
Center fielder Adam Eaton thinks some White Sox hitters were just too aggressive against a pitcher manager Robin Ventura said is “slower than slow” in a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 22,412 at U.S. Cellular Field.
The aforementioned slowee, Rays starter Cesar Ramos, combined with relievers Brandon Gomes and Juan Carlos Oviedo on a five-hit shutout as the White Sox were held to three runs or fewer for only the eighth time this season in 25 games.
“We’re young hitters for sure,” Eaton said. “I don’t think anyone would argue against that except for Paul (Konerko) and he had success. … We’ll learn to be patient, for me in my situations, but as a team to be patient and get a good pitch to hit.”
The White Sox didn’t make the most of their limited chances against Ramos, who kept them scoreless over five-plus innings.
Though they were few, some of the team’s most consistent performers had opportunities but couldn’t produce.
Eaton batted with one out and a man at third base in the third and fifth innings. Both times, Ramos threw him a slider and induced a comebacker to strand the runner.
In the third inning, Ramos then retired Marcus Semien on a liner to third to maintain a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, after Ramos walked Semien to load the bases, he retired baseball’s hottest rookie, Jose Abreu, on a grounder to third.
Abreu, whose grand slam lifted the White Sox to a win Friday, finished 0-for-4 as did Eaton.
“He’s effectively in and out of the zone and he had us chasing, taking a lot of off,” Ventura said. “He wasn’t adding anything. He was just going slower than slow. It’s tough to hit when you have conditions like this and a guy has a good changeup. He was moving the ball pretty good.”
Danks thought he contributed to the effort. With the temperature at first pitch hovering at 36 degrees Fahrenheit, Danks thinks he could have helped his teammates stand around a little less.
But Danks struggled with command of all of his pitches over a 123-pitch effort. He had trouble throwing strikes and needed 72 pitches to get through the first three innings.
The left-hander put two batters on with one out in the top of the second inning and struck out Yunel Escobar. But Tampa Bay catcher Ryan Hanigan broke up a scoreless tie when he ripped an 89-mph fastball just past third base and into the left-field corner for a two-run double.
An inning later, the Rays got another two-out hit, as James Loney’s RBI single drove in Wil Myers, who doubled with one out. Danks picked up steam in the middle innings retiring nine of 12 batters. But after he recorded the first two outs in the sixth, Danks walked Ben Zobrist and gave up a two-out, run-scoring triple to deep center off the bat of Desmond Jennings.
Danks allowed four earned runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four but also walked four batters, two of which scored.
“I certainly take the blame for the offense tonight,” Danks said. “Ramos pitched well, but it’s hard to get in a groove when you’re standing out in the field for 30 minutes after each inning. This one’s all on my shoulders.”
Eaton wasn’t about to let Danks take all the blame.
He was critical of his performance. But at the same time, he also won’t lose confidence because he knows just how young this White Sox group is. Eaton is in his first full season as is Semien. Abreu is seeing the league for the first time.
So while it may have been surprising to see the White Sox felled by Ramos and his average 89.7 mph fastball, per brooksbaseball.net, it’s not unexpected given the team’s youth.
“As we mature as a team and as young hitters, we’ll learn better how to approach that,” Eaton said.