White Sox stay receptive to Renteria’s manner but lose again

CLEVELAND — As Todd Frazier put it, the White Sox were going through the motions on this 1-6 road trip, so hearing manager Rick Renteria speak up in the dugout Thursday during a loss to the Rays was warranted.

It wasn’t the first time Renteria, upbeat and positive as he is, got vocal in a firm manner.

“I told them to keep playing the game,’’ Renteria said while downplaying it Friday. “That’s pretty much it. Just play the game.”

Trying to get them motivated?

Miguel Gonzalez reacts after giving up a two run home run in the fifth inning to Edwin Encarnacion. (Getty Images) 700011154

“Yeah, just give them some encouragement,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘It really wasn’t anything big, wasn’t a big deal. Just giving them some encouragement. Keep playing.”

The Sox kept playing but couldn’t prevent their American League-worst record from worsening, losing to the Indians 7-3 to fall to 25-34. They’ve lost eight of their last nine games and are 12-24 since going 13-10 in April.

“Win-loss record matters all the time,’’ Renteria said. “Because if you’re going to set a low for anybody you’re trying to help develop, it’s counterproductive. If you don’t set high bars for people, you’re doing yourself a disservice.’’

The bar for Sox starting pitching continued to be low as Miguel Gonzalez was the latest to fall short of six innings. He walked four and gave up four runs, including two on Edwin Encarnacion’s mammoth go-ahead homer, in 4‰ innings.

Sox starters have a 6.72 ERA over the last 17 games. With pitching like that, dugout pep talks will only go so far — although Renteria’s did seem to provide a spark the night before.

“We end up scoring five runs late and almost won,’’ Frazier said. “Was it necessarily from what he said? No. But it got us working again.’’

Renteria’s push since spring training has been all about effort and execution. So far, his style hasn’t worn thin in the clubhouse.

Frazier said the players respect and like Renteria’s leadership style.

“Sure, without a doubt,’’ Frazier said. “If there was a problem, they’d either go to him or we’d talk about it. There hasn’t been any problems, and I don’t see any problems coming on. He’s a great manager, and he understands the nature of our team — we have a lot of young guys, and he expects us veterans to patrol, as well.’’

Melky Cabrera and Frazier had RBI singles in the third against Indians ace Corey Kluber, and Jose Abreu’s sacrifice fly put the Sox ahead in the fifth. Abreu would leave in the seventh after being hit near the knee by an Andrew Miller pitch.

The Indians blew it open in the eighth with three runs against Jake Petricka, just back off the disabled list.

The Sox have two games left on this loss-infested trip. There’s only so much words can do, but Renteria will keep on pushing, and that seems to be OK by his players.

“Nothing bad about that at all,’’ Frazier said. “It kind of woke us up a little bit Thursday. Sometimes you need that. We were going through the motions the last couple of games. Rick knows we play hard, but there’s always a method to his madness, per se.’’

Renteria steered away from talking about what actually was said against the Rays.

“You have to have a purpose to any conversation that you have,’’ he said. “I agree with probably the majority of the managers that don’t necessarily like having meetings. You have to make sure that it’s [not] like a dog that’s always barking. At some point, you just start to ignore it. I think you just have to have purpose. You have to have a good feel, a sense of time for when you’re supposed to speak to people.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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