The White Sox took the first step toward regaining their confidence on Saturday.
With a 3-2 win over Texas, the White Sox snapped an eight-game losing streak that sent them plummeting toward the bottom of the American League. There’s a long way to go for a team that had playoff aspirations heading into the season with a revamped roster, but the hope inside the White Sox clubhouse is Saturday’s narrow win finally began the process of turning things around.
Elvis Andrus’ third-inning error on what would’ve been an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Alexei Ramirez allowed two runs to score, and coupled with Adam LaRoche’s sacrifice fly earlier in the frame it was just enough support for Carlos Rodon and a bullpen that pitched in with three dominant innings.
While the White Sox still left nine on base and only had one hit in eight tries with runners in scoring position, the error by the usually sure-handed Andrus was the kind of good fortune the team had missed during its eight-game malaise.
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“There’s times when things are going well you expect those breaks,” LaRoche said. “When things aren’t going well you almost expect the other team to get those breaks. It feels like nothing we do is either the right move or nothing we do is good enough. We seemed to be down late in ballgames. When things are going well, you can almost expect good things to happen and they do. It’s a confidence thing. That’s what we need to get back on that track.”
With the losing streak behind them, White Sox players said there were both frustrating and encouraging aspects to it. In five of the losses, the White Sox allowed three or fewer runs and were only blown out once — an 11-0 drubbing in Pittsburgh as the Blackhawks celebrated winning the Stanley Cup Monday night.
Pitching hasn’t been the problem, even though David Robertson’s blown save Friday night after Chris Sale’s 14-strikeout masterpiece was a gut-puncher. The White Sox offense just couldn’t get a hit when it needed to (and still didn’t Saturday), while the league’s worst defense continued to make mistakes.
“It’s just a matter of coming up with that big hit at the right time,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “If we mixed in a few more of those over the course of what we’ve done so far we’re a far better team in the standings than where we’re at.
“We’re not really panicking about it, it’s still early, but it’s getting late. It’s getting time to go. Hopefully we’re taking steps in the right direction to come up with those big hits and those big plays.”
The White Sox entered Saturday with only three position players — Jose Abreu, Geovany Soto and LaRoche — having a positive WAR. The lineup is littered with established players hitting below their career averages.
While LaRoche said losing all those close games built up plenty of frustration, he finds it hard to believe the team-wide offensive malaise will continue for much longer than it already has.
“(I’ve) been saying it all year with this lineup, it’s tough to go out there and consistently not score runs,” LaRoche said, “which is what we’ve been doing.”
Whether or not the White Sox have a quick fix for its glaring defensive and baserunning issues remains to be seen. But for the first time in 10 days, the White Sox left the clubhouse Saturday with a glimmer of hope.
“Any time you go on a skid like this, it's always nice to get it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You get that feeling away from you. But you can only feel good about it for a little while and you get back after it. You have to be able to continue momentum with it but there's a game tomorrow.”