NEW YORK — No aspect of the White Sox performance Sunday afternoon was without its mistakes.
If any had been, they might have walked away a winner.
The White Sox didn’t catch the ball, their starting pitcher couldn’t command it, the offense missed several chances and the bullpen struggled yet again. All of that added up to a near-miss and a 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees in front of 41,979 at Yankee Stadium.
Instead of heading home with their first series win at Yankee Stadium since 2005 and a .500 road trip, the White Sox traveled back to Chicago with their fourth loss in five games. However, they maintained a five-game lead in the American League Central as Cleveland lost again to Minnesota.
“It was a good back and forth game, but it was a frustrating one at times too,” catcher Alex Avila said. “We weren’t able to make that one pitch, two or three mistakes today on the pitching side, and we weren’t able to get that hit to make it a two- or three-run lead.”
The bullpen will catch much of the heat for Sunday’s loss. But the mistakes could be found in almost every nook and cranny.
Ultimately, the Yankees scored four times against White Sox relievers in their final three times at bat.
Zach Duke surrendered a go-ahead, two-run shot to Carlos Beltran in the sixth, the 400th home run of the outfielder’s career putting the Yankees ahead 5-4. Chase Headley’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh off Matt Albers broke a 5-all tie. And Brian McCann added a critical insurance run with a solo homer off Nate Jones in the eighth.
“You always know there are going to be blips in there at some point,” manager Robin Ventura said.
The defense played a role, too.
Brett Lawrie’s throwing error in the sixth ended a 12-game errorless stretch for the White Sox — the longest in franchise history — and brought Beltran to the plate with the tying run aboard. Instead of staying with Dan Jennings, Ventura opted for Duke, who had retired Beltran in 22 of 27 career meetings. But Duke left a 2-2 fastball up, and Beltran planted it in the left-field bleachers for a two-run shot and 5-4 Yankee lead.
Lawrie also skipped a throw in the first inning that Jose Abreu couldn’t scoop, which allowed the first batter of the game (Jacoby Ellsbury) to reach against Miguel Gonzalez. Ellsbury later scored on a Beltran sac fly that made it a 1-0 game.
“It’s going to happen,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We worry about the mental mistakes, not the physical ones because we know eventually it’s going to happen.”
Making his second straight start, Gonzalez struggled with command and only lasted 4 2/3 innings. He walked five batters, hit another and gave up three earned runs and five hits before giving way to Jennings.
“Control wasn’t there today,” Gonzalez said. “Ball was moving a lot. I tried to stay under control, kept the team in the game. It was a battle out there.
“I thought I could have gone more, but that control wasn’t there. It’s part of the game sometimes.”
The offense also was susceptible to a mistake or two, too.
Though the group finished a strong road trip with five more runs, giving it 37 in six games, missed opportunities were everywhere.
The White Sox stranded nine runners.
No chance was bigger than the one in the seventh, when the White Sox tied the game against Dellin Betances but couldn’t convert despite having two runners in scoring position and none out.
Abreu and Frazier singled to open the inning, and Melky Cabrera doubled in a run to make it 5-5. But Lawrie grounded out, and Betances struck out Avisail Garcia and Avila to keep it even.
The White Sox — who struck out 12 times — also stranded a pair of runners in the second, third and fifth innings.
“We had a lot of guys, second and third and couldn’t get them in.,” Ventura said. “But there was some tough pitching going on out there. It’s a tough go, and it’s a tough day.
“We just couldn’t hold it. We’d get a lead, they kept fighting back, and even for us, late, the seventh inning you end up tying it back up, but we just couldn’t pin it down.”