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White Sox rally comes up short in loss to Red Sox

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White Sox rally comes up short in loss to Red Sox

Jeff Samardzija’s August struggles continued on Monday night.

The White Sox offense, which wasn’t much better until it was too late, hurt itself again in the middle innings.

Jose Abreu’s solo home run aside, the White Sox missed out on several key opportunities against Joe Kelly and the Boston Red Sox in a 5-4 loss at U.S. Cellular Field. Rusney Castillo’s career-high five RBIs all came against Samardzija, who was knocked out after 5 2/3 innings.

The White Sox lost for the 25th time in 47 one-run games as they did nothing with a leadoff double in the fifth inning and ran into an out to end the sixth.

“Those always seem to stick in your head at the end of a game you are losing by one and you had some opportunities,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It adds up at the end.”

[MORE: Kenny Williams remains committed to White Sox amid more rumors on future]

Even though Samardzija continued a hittable August, the White Sox nearly overcame a 5-1 deficit.

They got one back in the sixth on Melky Cabrera’s RBI groundout. Then Abreu, who homered in the first, his 10th in 33 games (he has 31 RBIs in that period), doubled off Jean Machi to start the ninth. Avisail Garcia singled Abreu in one out later and Adam LaRoche singled to put runners on the corners. Alexei Ramirez’s RBI groundout made it a one-run game but Carlos Sanchez popped out.

The late rally only magnified a pair of missed opportunities in the fifth and sixth innings. Ramirez started the fifth inning with a double but the White Sox didn’t score. Right after Cabrera made it a 5-2 game in the sixth, Garcia singled to right but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double as he slid past the base.

It was the 56th out on the bases this season for the White Sox, who entered play with a .305 on-base percentage, good for 23rd in the majors. The 56 outs on the bases is the third-most in the majors, 12 more than the league average, according to baseball-reference.com.

“You get frustrated because sometimes you try to fight back and you’re getting close to tying the score but you can’t take that next step to get ahead,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “That kind of game is where you feel more frustrated.”

Castillo frustrated Samardzija, who felt good despite dropping his fifth straight start, all in August.

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Staked the early 1-0 lead, Samardzija was one strike away from a perfect second inning when he hit Hanley Ramirez in the back with a 2-2 fastball. All-Star Brock Holt -- who reached three times in four trips -- singled with two outs and Castillo crushed a 2-0 slider out to dead center to give the Red Sox a 3-1 advantage. Castillo’s homer was the 23rd this season allowed by Samardzija, who allowed a career-high 25 in 2013 for the Cubs.

After he put the first two runners on in the third, courtesy of a single and another hit batsmen, Samardzija seemed to turn a corner. The right-hander retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced, including six on strikeouts.

But after Samardzija struck out Travis Shaw to start the sixth inning things quickly fell apart. Hanley Ramirez doubled to left center, Holt walked and Castillo connected on a 1-1 slider, driving it to deep right center for a two-run double and a 5-1 Boston lead.

In August, Samardzija has a 9.00 ERA as he has allowed 39 hits and 28 earned runs in 28 innings with 10 walks and 23 strikeouts. Samardzija has allowed seven homers in that span, too.

“The last few times when I give up runs we score runs and when I don’t we don’t,” Samardzija said. “That kind of sums it up the way it’s been here a while. We play every day and we play to win those close games, personally I have to pitch better to keep the game where it needs to be.”

Kelly did just that in a stunning turnaround from last month when the White Sox knocked him out in the fourth inning.

With improved command of his offspeed pitches -- and those missed opportunities by the White Sox -- Kelly was too much. He induced eight straight ground balls starting in the second inning and retired 14 of 22 on the grounders. Kelly limited the White Sox to two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

“They all count at the end,” Ventura said. “They are always important. There’s never a time that you sit there and don’t think that you wasted one.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.