ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- John Danks didn’t do himself any favors when he allowed two early runs. The White Sox defense and a series of bad breaks didn’t make it any easier.
Issues that have plagued the White Sox all season resurfaced on Friday night and prevented them from extending their winning streak to four games. The White Sox hurt themselves defensively and were in too big of a hole to climb out of despite a Jose Abreu home run, losing 7-5 to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Danks allowed five runs (three earned) and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“Baseball,” Danks said. “I felt good with what I had going, throwing strikes with multiple pitches, was down in the zone. It’s just one of those nights where it couldn’t bounce my way.”
Danks created his own problems when the Rays rallied for two runs in the third inning on RBI singles by Brandon Guyer and Joey Butler. The left-handed pitcher issued a leadoff walk to .102 hitter Nick Franklin and Mikie Mahtook, a .111 hitter, singled before Rene Rivera bunted them over to set up Guyer and Butler.
But Danks ran into plain bad luck in the fifth inning.
Butler reached on an infield single and raced to third when Evan Longoria’s broken-bat bleeder got through the right side against a defensive shift. Logan Forsythe gave Tampa a 3-2 lead with a sac fly.
Then a defense that is second to last in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved took over.
Jake Elmore started the sixth inning with an infield single. Franklin then reached base when Abreu dropped Gordon Beckham’s throw after a nice play on a slow chopper.
“It was my fault, completely my fault,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I just tried to open my legs to stretch too soon and I just missed it. It’s completely my fault.”
After a sac bunt moved both over, Carlos Sanchez’s throw to the plate on Rivera’s grounder off Daniel Webb was a hair late to get Elmore. Kevin Kiermaier’s pinch-hit single made it 5-2 and both he and Rivera moved into scoring position on a passed ball by Tyler Flowers. Adam Eaton then misread a single by Butler -- who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs -- to give Tampa a four-run lead.
Danks threw strikes on 70 of 94 pitches.
“Beck made a nice play too on that ball,” said White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, who is filling in for Robin Ventura this weekend as the manager attends his daughter’s college graduation. “It was just one of those things where we were always a shade too far one side or another in the infield. Not knowing this team a whole lot, we positioned them what we thought would be the best. We’ll check it out again tomorrow and adjust from there. But sometimes you have to turn around and pitch according to your defense, too.”
An inning later, the Rays got an insurance run after Alexei Ramirez and Sanchez nearly collided on Steven Souza Jr.’s blooper to shallow center as the ball kicked off the shortstop’s glove. Elmore singled and both moved up on a Junior Guerra wild pitch with Franklin’s RBI single making it a 7-5 game. Franklin went 2-for-3 with a walk, reaching base four times.
“It’s baseball,” Danks said. “They put the ball in play, made things happen and it worked out for them.”
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The White Sox rallied twice to make things interesting.
They tied it in the fifth at 2 when Sanchez walked and scored after Rivera’s throw to first on an Eaton bunt single soared down the right-field line. Eaton went to third on the play and scored on Ramirez’s sac fly to center.
Ramirez had an RBI groundout and Abreu a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the seventh to get the White Sox back within 6-5. It’s the third straight game in which Abreu has homered, a first in his career.
Though Abreu was talking about hitting, his statement easily applies to the defense of the 28-31 team as well.
“We all have to change the little things and make some adjustments,” Abreu said.