ARLINGTON, Texas -- The White Sox offense has struggled over the past week and now it could be without it’s sparkplug for a bit.
Leadoff man and center fielder Adam Eaton left Saturday night’s 6-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in front of 44,811 at Globe Life Park early with a mild lower left hamstring strain, the second straight game he has exited because of an injury.
Eaton, who returned to the lineup Saturday after he injured his ankle and hamstring in Friday’s game, left in the sixth inning as he pulled up before reaching first base on a groundout. Manager Robin Ventura thinks the White Sox, losers of four straight, could be without Eaton for at least three games.
“I tried to get on it out of the box and it felt like someone was strumming the bottom of the hamstring,” said Eaton, who characterized the early exit as precautionary. “I need to make sure that I take care of the body a little better and we’ll be just fine. I don’t know what Robin said, but a couple of days and hopefully one and get me back in there. Make sure we pay a little more attention to it and take care of things and take care of what makes me run, which is my legs, and we’ll be just fine.”
Any loss of Eaton would be a detriment to a White Sox offense that is without outfielder Avisail Garcia and has slowed down considerably after an outstanding start.
Even with a 0-for-3 performance on Saturday, Eaton has a .373 on-base percentage. He has helped provide a consistent spark atop the lineup as he reached base at least twice in 10 of 18 games played.
A White Sox offense that failed to score 600 runs for the first full season in 33 years in 2013 stormed out of the gate this month. With Eaton and Jose Abreu in the lineup, the White Sox scored 80 runs in their first 13 games.
But they struggled to produce for a fifth straight game on Saturday against Texas starter Colby Lewis and a host of relievers and have scored 10 runs in their past five contests.
“He’s brought a lot of energy,” Ventura said. “Anybody that sees him play. He has tough at-bats and gets on and creates a lot of havoc. That’s something that early on was something we needed. He’s an important part, so you don’t want to lose him. We’ve had enough injury stuff around here to last us a year. Just careful with him and we’re not going to run him back out there for a few days.”
Despite Eaton’s absence the White Sox had several late chances. The White Sox loaded the bases three times courtesy of big days by Abreu and Adam Dunn, who each reached base three times. Third hitter Conor Gillaspie also got on twice.
But the White Sox never broke through.
The team’s hottest bat to date, Alexei Ramirez, grounded into a pair of double plays and into a fielder’s choice, all with runners in scoring position.
His second double play in the top of the eighth inning against Alexi Ogando came with the tying runs aboard after Dayan Viciedo’s two-run single to left cut Texas’ lead to 5-3. Ramirez, who was robbed of a potential extra-base hit by Alex Rios in the fifth inning, saw his team-record 17-game hitting streak to start the season end with a 0-for-4 performance.
“We had a couple innings there where we had a chance to put in a big inning, and it fizzled right there at the end,” Ventura said. “You get a double play ball, a guy makes a good pitch and we’ve got a hot hitter up there. It just didn’t happen.”
Jose Quintana struggled from the outset.
He allowed three straight hits to start the game, including an RBI double by Rios, as the Rangers pulled ahead 1-0. Prince Fielder started a four-run, fourth-inning rally with a solo home run to right off Quintana. Josh Wilson also had a two-run double and Shin-Soo Choo, who went 3-for-4, doubled in a run off Quintana.
The nine hits surrendered by Quintana are the most he has allowed in a game since July 21, 2013. It came on the heels of last Sunday’s start when the left-hander returned after a 45-minute rain delay and threw a career-high 121 pitches over six innings.
But Quintana contends he felt good, that his outing swung on an inside pitch to Wilson, who beat him.
“I go inside for him, that’s the plan,” Quintana said. “But he can hit in (that) moment. I feel really good. I think throw more or less (one) pitch for the inning, one situation.”