Know how the White Sox have had trouble scoring runs this season?
It happened again on Tuesday night.
The White Sox offense, rebuilt with $74.5 million worth of modifications in the offseason, sputtered to the halfway point of the season with a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 17,028 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Hours after another call to action, the White Sox tossed an additional lackluster offensive performance onto the pile against Felix Doubront and three relievers. The White Sox finished the first half with a 37-44 record.
Despite eight great innings, Jose Quintana (4-8) received another hard-luck loss as the White Sox were held to one run or fewer for the 21st time. Josh Donaldson’s fourth-inning solo homer -- his sixth in five games against the White Sox in 2015 -- was the difference.
“It’s just too hard for these guys to try to win 2-1,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s no room for error. It’s not giving them a big lead and they sit there and kind of play with it.
“There’s no room. You lose tonight because Donaldson hits a home run.”
The White Sox had few chances but they had the tying run at third base with one out in the ninth inning and the infield drawn in. But after his wild pitch allowed Alexei Ramirez to move to third, Toronto reliever Roberto Osuna composed himself and escaped with his fourth save. First he induced a foul out to shallow left off J.B. Shuck’s bat before Conor Gillaspie fouled out to end the contest. The White Sox have scored four runs or fewer in a franchise-record 24 straight home games. They also have scored three runs or fewer 45 times this season, winning just 10 of those contests. The White Sox, who are averaging 3.41 runs per game, are 27-9 when they score at least four runs. They’re on pace to score 552 runs in 2015.
They scored their lone run Tuesday on a two-out, game-tying RBI single by Carlos Sanchez in the second inning.
“Everybody’s still trying to put it together,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We haven’t had that moment where a number of us are hot, so we’re still kind of waiting on that to happen and we’ve got to find ways to scratch and claw through. Tonight, we should have done a little bit better. With that performance, it’s a great job by Q to give us a chance and hold that offense down. We’ve just got to find a way.”
Though they continue to stress patience, time is clearly running out for the White Sox, who entered Tuesday 5 1/ 2 games out in the wild-card race. The bigger issues are that nine teams sit in front of them in that wild-card chase and the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline is a little over three weeks away. While the White Sox don’t intend upon a massive overhaul, key chips could be peddled away soon if and -- more likely -- when they decide to become sellers.
The same old storyline on offense produced a replica outing for Quintana, who continued an excellent run by White Sox pitchers with a season-high eight innings pitched.
There’s not much more Quintana could do to improve his chances for victory. In his last eight outings, the left-hander has a 2.70 ERA in 53 1/3 innings. But the White Sox record is only 4-4 as they’ve scored 13 runs for Quintana while he’s been on the mound. They’ve produced 31 runs in Quintana’s 107 1/3 innings this season.
Just as Chris Sale did on Monday, Quintana kept a lethal Blue Jayslineup under wraps. Though Toronto entered the game with the most potent offense in the majors, they tallied just two runs, the latter coming on Donaldson’s homer. Donaldson is 10-for-17 against White Sox pitching this season.
The Blue Jays jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Reyes singled, stole second, advanced to third on a grounder and scored on Jose Bautista’s RBI groundout.
But Quintana retired nine in a row after Reyes’ leadoff hit until Donaldson’s homer and later retired 10 more consecutively. He struck out five in a row in between the fourth and fifth innings and finished with eight. Quintana allowed two earned runs and four hits.
“I’ll try next time to not give up any runs,” Quintana said. “I’ll try again to keep my games as close as I can.
“I can never (get frustrated with the offense) because it’s a long season. I try to do what is best for me every five days. I try to get a win for us every time/ just keep going. It’s the middle of the season.”