NEW YORK — This one isn’t on the bullpen.
The White Sox relief corps has rightfully faced its share of criticism in 2014.
But even though Daniel Webb gave up a bases-loaded walkoff single on Friday night, an offense that couldn’t put its opponents away and a pitcher who couldn’t hold onto an early advantage were the critical factors in a 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
The offense didn’t score after Jose Abreu’s three-run home run in the first inning, and John Danks lasted only five innings as the White Sox lost for the 11th time in 15 games. Losers of four straight, the White Sox dropped to a season-worst 10 games below .500 despite finishing with 11 hits.
“We had chances early and get three runs in the first and not get any more,” Dunn said. “That’s how you lose.”
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Instead of jumping out to a six-run lead in the first two or three innings, the White Sox offense put up eight straight zeroes as the two teams were tied headed to the ninth inning.
Webb took over after Ronald Belisario and Zach Putnam combined for three scoreless innings and gave up a leadoff single to Ichiro Suzuki. He got the next two batters out and walked Jacoby Ellsbury intentionally. Webb then walked Mark Teixeira but got ahead of Martin Prado 0-2 in the count before the hitter took three straight balls. Prado then singled up the middle on Webb’s 3-2 pitch to send the Yankees to a late victory.
But Prado’s late heroics were set up much earlier.
Abreu’s three-run blast, his 33rd, off Shane Greene gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But from there the White Sox offense couldn’t produce in big situations.
Abreu and Dunn came up empty in the second inning with two aboard, while Avisail Garcia grounded into a double play to end the fifth with two on.
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The White Sox came close in the sixth inning as Alejandro De Aza singled with two on and two out but Brett Gardner easily threw Conor Gillaspie out at home to end the threat.
From there Dellin Betances and Daniel Robertson combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings to shut down the White Sox.
“You score early and you jump out real quick and eventually, you’ve seen it forever, a team just inches back and inches back,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We had some nice opportunities there. They turned a few double plays that just really take you out of anything. We just have to be better with that. We have to be able to execute and move guys around the bases, similar to what they did.”
The Yankees rallied in the middle innings against Danks, who walked three batters and hit another over five-plus innings.
Prado ripped a two-run homer in the third inning to cut the lead to 3-2. Danks started the fifth inning by hitting Brett Gardner, who scored the tying run on an RBI double by Ellsbury. But the Yankees couldn’t pull ahead in the fifth as Danks pitched out a jam with no outs and runners on second and third.
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Still, the damage was done after Danks allowed three earned runs and six hits.
“I didn’t do myself any favors at the start of that inning trying to throw a front-door cutter to Gardner and squared him up right in the middle of the back,” Danks said. “That’s just as good as a walk. You almost consider that another walk. Two or three leadoff walks to an inning, you can’t do that.
“I really just shot myself in the foot.”
Rookie Carlos Sanchez gave the White Sox offense an adrenaline shot in his second major league start and the first since the club traded Gordon Beckham.
He became the first White Sox rookie since Craig Wilson and Brian Simmons in 1998 to have a three-hit game within his first two contests.
Sanchez singled ahead of Abreu’s homer in the first. His single in the second inning put runners on first and second with one out, but Abreu and Dunn came up empty. Sanchez also singled to start the fifth inning before Garcia’s double play ball equalized that rally.
Greene limited the White Sox to three runs in five-plus innings even though he put 12 runners on base.
“The other day we had an opportunity to knock the starter out early, and we did it,” said Dunn, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. “Today we had an opportunity to do the same, but not only did we not do it but he went (five) innings. That’s definitely on us.”