Their losing streak was at five games but it had been nine days since the White Sox left the ballpark feeling good.
And while they know Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers was full of mistakes they must fix, the White Sox can live with that reality given the end result. For after they endured an almost indescribable week of hardships, some out of their control but the majority of their own doing, the White Sox felt their first positive feeling since they beat the Kansas City Royals twice on April 26.
“Wins always feel pretty good, but there’s certain times when you just need one and this would definitely qualify as one of those times,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche. “We’ve had the situation in Baltimore, a bunch of off days there and then we got a bunch of guys sick and nothing really coming together. It seemed like everything was falling apart, so it was nice.”
When they left Chicago on April 26, the White Sox had played their best baseball of the season against the Royals. The defense looked sharp and the pitching was strong enough to take two of three from the defending American League champions.
But everything quickly went downhill.
Monday’s riots left the team hidden inside their hotel for two days except for a Tuesday workout. They followed that up with a resounding loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the most surreal setting for a game in major league history and then were hit hard by flu-like symptoms that were bad enough to send Adam Eaton home two days early.
On the field, the team’s starting pitching went in the tank, as did it’s offense, and the defense and base running were atrocious. But during a team meeting Tuesday, one shortstop Alexei Ramirez said through an interpreter wasn’t out of the norm, players and coaches stressed that “the past was the past” and they needed to focus on the Detroit Tigers.
Jeff Samardzija helped stop the White Sox woes with seven strong innings, pitching around three errors.
“That was a terrible road trip for us, we weren’t happy with the way it went,” Samardzija said. “It wasn’t the most normal road trip in the world with what happened in Baltimore and everything. So we just needed to regroup and understand that we have a great team here and we just need to go out and do what we do. We came out and played a strong game and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
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Ramirez said the White Sox have to keep the focus. There’s no question much more is needed if the White Sox are to get back on track after a 9-14 start. The defense has been shaky, players have made poor decisions defensively and on the bases and the offense hasn’t put together a consistent run to date.
“There's definitely some things in there we don't like seeing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to be able to clean it up to win consistently. That's never going to change.”
But for now, they’ll take what they’ve been given and build from there. Hard as it is to say any team is desperate for a victory only 23 games into the season, this may have been as close as it gets.
“Some of those wins, it doesn’t save your season, but it can definitely boost just that team confidence and morale,” LaRoche said. “Come out tomorrow feeling a little bit better. You come back and you’ve lost four or five games in a row and it sucks, it’s depressing. This is nice.”