By David Just
There was no shortage of opportunities for the White Sox on Saturday.
A runner reached base safely in all but the eighth inning, and all but two starters hit or walked their way to first against the Royals. The Sox even had their ideal situation in the seventh inning, when the bases were loaded with nobody out for Jose Abreu.
The slumping slugger drove in the Sox’ only run, but did so by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play that halted any potential rally.
The Sox went on to lose, 2-1, their sixth loss in seven games and eighth in the last 10. Their six-game lead in the American League Central on May 9 shrunk to 1 1/2 with the latest defeat.
Is it time to be concerned about this offense yet?
“I don’t know if it’s concern, but we’re not happy with it,” manager Robin Ventura said pregame. “You go through ruts, you have to fight your way out of it, work at it. Stay positive. We believe it’s gonna end.”
The Sox stranded nine baserunners and only moved a runner to third in the seventh inning.
Brett Lawrie was 0 for 19 before his sixth-inning single. Todd Frazier is 0 for 8 in the series. And Abreu, the club’s best hitter for the past two seasons, grounded into two double plays.
The Sox thrived during the season’s first month and a half despite Abreu’s struggles, but they could use their star now more than ever. Abreu is hitting .243 with just seven base hits after going 1 for 4 on Saturday.
“He’ll be fine,” Frazier said of Abreu. “You know, I think he knows what he needs to do. I talked to him a little bit today. We’ve all been through it. I’m 0 for 8 in the series, so I’m struggling, too, if you want the truth.”
Ventura believes Abreu is pressing at the plate.
“You can see it as far as getting in those situations and trying to probably hit a seven-run homer,” Ventura said. “You can’t get out of it that way. You got to be able to relax and get through it. We’ll be there for him.
“You go through tough stretches, and this is probably his toughest stretch. And he has everything that’ll get him through it, and we’ll get through it.”
White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez was the hard-luck loser, giving up just the two runs in six innings of work.
Gonzalez, who was making his first start at The Cell, is now 0-7 with a 6.41 ERA in his last 12 starts with the Orioles and Sox.
The Royals’ first batter of the game, Alcides Escobar, singled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the first. Lorenzo Cain added the necessary insurance with a solo homer in the sixth.
“They’re an aggressive team, we all know that,” Gonzalez said. “You make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize. Just tip your hat and move on.”
The Sox will try to avoid being swept Sunday, and they’ll try to avoid losing their grip on first place during the following series against the Indians.
“We’re going to flush this out and get ready to come right back after it tomorrow,” shortstop Tyler Saladino said. Same attitude, same mentality. Go into every game ready to win that game.”