The White Sox have lost 54 games in all sorts of ways this season.
Even the admitted failure to challenge an umpire’s call.
After a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, third base coach Joe McEwing added his name to the list. On a night when the Sox fought back with a pair of two-run homers by Jose Abreu and Carlos Sanchez, McEwing aggressively windmilled Alexei Ramirez home with the potential tying run with no outs in the ninth inning, only to see Ramirez thrown out by about 15-20 feet on center fielder Kevin Kiemaier’s throw.
“It’s totally my fault,’’ McEwing said. “I know it’s a guy that throws above and he’s got a great arm and charges the ball hard. I take full responsibility for it. I messed up.’’
Kiemaier, charging hard on Adam LaRoche’s single, gloved the ball as Ramirez was reaching third. If McEwing held Ramirez, the Sox would have had runners at the corners with no outs.
Instead, Ramirez, as elusive as they come in the art of avoiding tags, leaped over catcher Curt Casali but couldn’t avoid a tag.
“I wasn’t surprised he sent me home because you have to be ready for that,’’ Ramirez said.
LaRoche advanced to second on the throw, but pinch runner Leury Garcia was left there as the slumping Avisail Garcia (1-for-4, double) struck out for the third time and Sanchez lined out to right.
The loss was a painful one for the Sox (50-54), who fell for the fourth time in five games to take the oomph out of that seven-game winning streak that had rejuvenated a left-for-dead team before the trade deadline.
Manager Robin Ventura tried to cut some slack for McEwing, who has a good track record on sending or holding runners, saying that decision “is always a tough call,’’
“I just liked the fight we had,’’ Ventura said. “You go down, you come back – Sanchez with a big homer and then we give up a couple.’’
The Sox bullpen was also to blame in relief of Jose Quintana (six innings, two runs), giving up a run in the seventh (Jake Petricka), eighth (Zach Duke) and ninth (closer David Robertson (ninth).
After Abreu’s 19th homer against Nathan Karns erased a 2-0 deficit in the sixth, the Rays took the lead right back in the top of the seventh on doubles by Grady Sizemore and Even Longoria against Petricka, but the Sox took their first lead when Sanchez lifted a two-run homer against Steve Geltz.
The Rays tied it up with two outs in the top of the eighth on Grady Sizemore’s 424-foot homer against Duke.
“It’s not too often that you’re going to see Jake, myself and David each give up a run,’’ Duke said. “I threw a cutter that was supposed to be away and instead it just spun right in the middle of the plate, right in his swing.
“That’s a tough night. We take it hard out there for sure.”
Robertson, in a non-save situation, issued a walk and a two-out single on a hanging curve to Mikie Mahtook.
Abreu extended his hitting streak to 14 games, which includes five homers. Garcia doubled and scored on Sanchez’s homer but otherwise it was another rough night for the right fielder, who was charged with a throwing error and could have been given an error on a Joey Butler’s deep fly in the fifth that went off his glove for a double. Butler scored on Logan Forsythe’s sacrifice fly.
“Those things are glaring especially when you start playing as well as we’ve been playing defensively,’’ said Ventura, who might be thinking about a start in right for rookie Trayce Thompson Tuesday. “You have a couple hiccups in there that end up costing you.”
Ventura said Ramirez didn’t get a great jump, but McEwing wouldn’t hear of it, saying his hiccup was at the top of the list.
“No, that’s his read,” McEwing said. “It’s a broken bat and his first instinct is to freeze, freeze, freeze and it’s the right instinct. Like I said, I made a terrible decision to send him there. Instead of having first and third with nobody out, now we have a guy on second with one out. Like I said, It was a terrible decision and one I’ll take on.“Yeah, I probably reacted too early to send him. I could have been further down the line and hesitated and waited a little bit. But my instinct was to send him and it was the wrong one.”