SEATTLE — The White Sox aren’t in a position where feel-good stories aid their cause.
Morale victories have little value to a team as desperately in need of wins as the White Sox are. So even though Adam LaRoche’s bat continues to warm up and the White Sox had a big mid-game rally, they didn’t have any warm and fuzzy feelings after an 8-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 30,537 at Safeco Field.
LaRoche homered and doubled and Jose Abreu also homered, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a big early deficit created by John Danks. Mariners relievers Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings to snap a three-game White Sox winning streak and prevent them from finishing their seven-game road trip with a winning record.
“Where we are we can’t afford to do that and the team put me in a good position today,” Danks said. “Everyone did their jobs exceptionally well today except me, and unfortunately I sucked bad enough that we weren’t able to get the win. We need to win more than three out of seven. Just being blunt, we don’t have that much season left to do that.”
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The White Sox have a significant hole to climb out of to if they wish to remain relevant in September. Sunday’s loss drops them back to six games below .500 and 5 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.
The Texas Rangers currently sit in second place in the wild-card race and are on pace to finish 84-78. To reach 84 wins, the White Sox would have to play .650 baseball over their final 40 games (26-14).
So far the White Sox haven’t proven to be that team, and there has been little evidence to suggest they’re capable of such a run. But one factor in the club’s favor is that they play teams with losing records in 24 of their final 40 contests, including seven at home this week against the Boston Red Sox and Mariners.
Though they opened it with three straight losses, the White Sox still had a chance to salvage a winning road trip with a victory Sunday.
Danks opened the game with two scoreless innings, but it quickly became evident in the third inning he wouldn’t be at his best. Mark Trumbo doubled to start the third, one of five Seattle hits in the inning. Jesus Sucre made it a 1-all game with a one-out RBI single, and Nelson Cruz later doubled in two runs. Franklin Gutierrez singled in another to make it 4-1, but Robinson Cano was thrown out at the third on the play to end the inning.
“He was elevating some balls, and they got some good swings on him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “In the third it seemed like his ball was up, and they put some good hacks on it and got something going.”
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Danks’ rough outing continued two innings later when Austin Jackson singled in a run and Cano crushed a two-run homer to put Seattle ahead by six runs.
Danks allowed eight hits and seven earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.
“Got in a lot of hitter’s counts and had to try and maneuver my way through and wasn’t very successful,” Danks said.
After a very difficult few months, LaRoche has started to find success through a combination of being more aggressive at the plate along with improved pitch selection.
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Three days after he had two hits, including a homer, LaRoche repeated his performance. He doubled ahead of an Alexei Ramirez RBI single in the second inning that gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
And his two-run homer in the sixth inning off Logan Kensing brought the White Sox back within a run. Tyler Saladino earlier doubled in a run, and Abreu had a two-run blast as the White Sox scored five times.
While LaRoche feels better about himself, he was left smarting after he struck out looking to start the ninth inning courtesy of what appeared to be a wide strike zone.
“Always nice to compete and make it a little bit closer ballgame,” LaRoche said. “Gave Johnny a chance to get off the hook but came up a little bit short.
“Last at-bat was a little frustrating.”