Though they didn’t completely rid themselves of the horrendous play that plagued their road trip, the White Sox made progress on Tuesday night.
Two days removed from a five-game trip Rick Hahn said was full of “stupid” and “poor” decisions, the White Sox brought forth some of the missing elements in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field. Jeff Samardzija delivered the goods and Conor Gillaspie capped a four-run rally with a two-run triple as the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak. For at least one game the White Sox — who have preached accountability across the board amid calls for the firing of manager Robin Ventura — showed they’re capable of playing as well as everyone within the walls at 35th and Shields thinks they can.
“This team is far, far better than what we’ve seen the last few days,” Hahn said. “Obviously we shot ourselves in the foot with some stupid base running decisions, there was some poor defensive decisions.
“Our problems right now are amplified by the fact that we’re not scoring runs. This is a lineup that is able to score runs over the long haul. This is a starting rotation that is going to not have however many starters we have with ERAs over 5 over the long haul.”
Though it’s not likely to restore the faith of fans who have continued to call for Ventura’s head, Samardzija at least provided the White Sox with a breather.
Samardzija did what four starters couldn’t in the last turn through the rotation — keep the White Sox in the game.
Tuesday’s effort looked to be headed in that direction, too.
With the help of a first-inning error and a solo homer that bounced off Melky Cabrera’s glove over the fence (it would have been a stunning catch), Samardzija gave up two runs.
But Samardzija didn’t give up any more runs and pitched out of critical jams in the fifth and seventh innings. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
In his previous start, Samardzija allowed eight earned runs as he and White Sox starters went 0-5 with a 10.39 ERA in 21 2/3 innings on the road trip.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Ventura said. “We’re frustrated too. You understand that, but in the end we gotta focus on what we’re doing right here, and I get it. I’m frustrated. You understand where people lash out and why they do it. Again, that doesn’t stop what we’re trying to do here and the focus on playing the Tigers.
I’m not sitting here thinking of my own situation with that. We’re trying to win a game tonight. That becomes the focus.”
An offense that was outscored 39-10 in Baltimore and Minneapolis also showed a pulse. The White Sox displayed patience at the plate against Detroit’s Shane Greene, drawing four walks and knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings.
Trailing by one, Jose Abreu singled in a first-inning run to tie the score. Two innings later, Adam LaRoche tied it with a bases-loaded walk, Avisail Garcia had an RBI fielder’s choice and Gillaspie had a two-run triple to give the White Sox a 5-2 lead. Adam Eaton, who doubled to start the game, said Ventura’s steady presence is critical if the White Sox are to rebound.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
“He's the type of manager you need in the clubhouse, a cool-headed manager that doesn't come in here after every loss and preach to us about how we should have done stuff,” Eaton said. “But when something needs to be said he says it. It sucks that he gets heat from wherever it may come from, but realistically it's us. We need to perform and perform for him. It's going to come sooner or later.”
The White Sox aren’t naïve enough to think one game is the elixir for their issues. They’ve been far too sloppy on the bases — Eaton probably should have tripled in the first — and they made three more errors. Aside from a bullpen that delivered two more scoreless innings, the White Sox clearly have been pressing throughout the roster. But Hahn and Ventura believe as long as the team is accountable, the ship can be righted. After all, prior to their hellish trip, the White Sox were coming off their best games of the season.
“I certainly am pleased with how our team has responded,” Hahn said. “To hear our players stand up over the last few days and say ‘Look, this is on us, we need to start performing better’ I think is a great first step to getting this thing right. … In times of adversity I think it’s more important for us to pull together and reinforce what we’re doing as a unit than to say anything specific about any individual.
“We’re in this together and the accountability is shared by all of us.”