This probably isn’t what Robin Ventura had in mind when he again asked more of his offense on Friday morning.
Despite warm conditions, the White Sox managed to score only four times in a Friday doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals, though they did enough in the nightcap to split. John Danks outpitched Edinson Volquez in Game 2 in front of 25,701 at U.S. Cellular Field as the White Sox avoided a sweep with a 2-0 victory over the Royals. The White Sox dropped the opener, 4-2.
The production is more of the same from an offense that 3.4 runs per game through its first 86 contests -- something Ventura knows can’t happen if the White Sox want to get back into the postseason picture.
“We’ll have to score more,” Ventura said. “You just can’t survive the way it ended up. We’re not scoring very much. Your pitchers can only do so much and they’re going to have a rut where they probably don’t pitch as well as they did in the last couple of weeks and you’re going to have to be able to score some runs and help them out. They can’t do that every day, can’t expect them to do that every day.”
The White Sox pitching has been fantastic over a 14-game stretch, which may not ultimately alter the thinking of the front office, but has at least put any plans to sell temporarily on hold.
Once 10 games under .500, the White Sox are 42-46 mostly because of their pitching and improved defense.
Over their last 14, the White Sox pitching staff has a 1.95 ERA and the team has won 10 games. While the White Sox entered Friday in eighth place for two wild-card spots, they’re within a very reasonable 5 1/2 games.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to have a little bit more interesting of a month than how it looked like when it started,” general manager Rick Hahn said.
At the same time, the White Sox can’t expect the results to continue if the offense doesn’t pick it up.
Aside from a promising second-inning rally in the second game on Friday, the White Sox continue to leave runs on the table. They grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second on Edinson Volquez when Avisail Garcia tripled with two outs and Tyler Flowers singled to left. But had it not been for a Volquez wild pitch in the sixth that scored Melky Cabrera, the White Sox could have come up empty four different times in the doubleheader despite having a man on third and one out.
The White Sox had runners on second and third and only one out twice in the opener but came up empty each time. Cabrera doubled to start the sixth inning of Game 2 and moved to third on a Jose Abreu fly out. But with the infield in, Adam LaRoche hit a one-hopper to first base and Cabrera didn’t advance home until Volquez uncorked a wild one on a 3-1 offering to Garcia.
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An inning later, the White Sox missed out on a chance to extend their lead after Alex Rios gifted them a huge opportunity with a dropped fly ball. After Gordon Beckham’s blooper somehow fell in to load the bases with one out, Franklin Morales struck out Cabrera and got Abreu to hit into a comebacker.
The White Sox were able to work around their offensive lethargy behind Danks, who successfully navigated the Royals’ lineup again. Danks had a runner on base in each of his six-plus innings pitched. But he stranded runners inscoring position in the third and fourth innings to earn his ninth win in 10 decisions against Kansas City.
“(Volquez is) pretty good and he seemed to be pretty on today,” Flowers said. “Against a guy like that you’ve got scrape and claw and trying to get something. We were able to get a couple there. But we’re not going to be able to put zeroes forever. Definitely got to capitalize on it when we do and we’ve got to get (the offense) rolling because it’s not going to continue forever.”