Alexei Ramirez bore the frustration of another trying day for the White Sox offense on Thursday afternoon.
He grounded into a key double play that helped Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein escape his only real trouble spot. Lobstein limited the aggressive White Sox chances and the Tigers provided timely hitting of their own to avoid their first sweep at the hands of the White Sox since 2008 with a 4-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Lobstein pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball as he and closer Joakim Soria combined on a five-hitter. Jose Quintana took the loss after he allowed two runs in five innings with eight strikeouts.
“I feel a little bit frustrated because I wasn’t able to help the team,” Ramirez said through an interpreter after going 1-for-3. “It’s frustrating because this is baseball and it’s all about the win.”
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After a workmanlike performance, Quintana appeared as if he might be headed for a victory when the White Sox rallied for a run in the bottom of the fourth. Taking advantage of an Ian Kinsler error, the White Sox got consecutive singles from Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia — who had the game-winner on Wednesday — to tie the game. Adam LaRoche then drew a seven-pitch walk against Lobstein to load the bases with nobody out.
But Alexei Ramirez swung at the first pitch — an 88-mph fastball — and hit a hard grounder that Nick Castellanos fielded before he stepped on third and fired home in time to tag Abreu out. Gordon Beckham followed with another hard grounder, but Miguel Cabrera corralled it to end the inning.
“Alexei hits it hard and it's just right at somebody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That's the way the game goes sometimes. You'd like it a little more up the middle and get something more out of that, but we had some opportunities off him in that inning. Other than that, Lobstein was good. He really had everybody off balance, he was getting ahead early and working both sides of the plate.”
The fourth inning was the only real threat the White Sox could muster. They only got one other leadoff man aboard on Micah Johnson’s eighth-inning single and he was immediately erased when Adam Eaton grounded into a double play. Lobstein recorded 13 of 20 outs on ground balls, limiting his opponents to five hits and two walks. His only run allowed was unearned.
“We hit a number of them hard, we just didn’t find a lot of holes with them and timely hits didn’t happen,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “ That’s kind of how it goes sometimes.”
So far this season the low-scoring offense has been a dominant theme.
While the White Sox scored 12 runs the previous two games, both victories, this was the 15th time in 25 contests they have scored three runs or fewer. They are 1-14 in those games.
Yet another poor showing with the bats led Quintana to a second straight hard-luck loss. He needed 69 pitches to get through the first three innings as he carefully navigated around the middle of the Tigers lineup.
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Quintana allowed a first-inning run on a wild pitch with two outs before stranding two with a strikeout of J.D. Martinez. He also needed 10 pitches to retire Yoenis Cespedes with two in scoring position and two outs to end the third.
Quintana nearly got out of trouble in the fifth inning but Beckham couldn’t glove a Miguel Cabrera grounder and had to settle for the out at first instead of a double play, which allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Quintana allowed four hits and walked two, throwing strikes on 71 of 107 pitches. The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning off Dan Jennings, who allowed his first runs since Opening Day.
The White Sox knew coming in some of their hitters are slow starters, namely Ramirez and LaRoche, who has begun to come around. Ramirez has hit the ball hard the past few games but still isn’t there, carrying a .202/.240/.281 slash line with no homers and 9 RBIs. He said the key is to stay focused on the present and not worry about the past — that they can’t give up on that theory, no matter how frustrated they are.
“We have to keep the faith and the confidence that we are getting better sooner rather than later,” Ramirez said. “We have to keep doing that until we get the results we want and the consistency we want.”