NEW YORK — Now that’s what a rebuilding loss is supposed to look like.
A Rule 5 rookie pitcher with six starts in Class AA last season taking lumps and learning on the job at Yankee Stadium.
A 9-1 loss to the Yankees.
A designated hitter (Cody Asche) with a batting average of .069.
That sounds like more of what could have been expected from the White Sox when they embarked on remodeling their organization this past offseason. But with 14 games scratched off the schedule and a 5-4, three-city road trip off the books, the Sox returned home Wednesday night having played better than most expected.
With Chris Sale and Adam Eaton traded away and Carlos Rodon injured, the Sox are out of the gate with a 7-7 record after the blowout.
What does it mean?
“It’s a snippet,’’ cautioned manager Rick Renteria, who saw rookie Dylan Covey give up three homers and eight runs in five innings in what was the Bronx Bombers’ ninth win in 10 games. For the Sox, it was their first series loss of what looked like a testy trip that started in Cleveland and Minnesota.
“It’s a long season,’’ Renteria said. “But hopefully they just continue to push. There are highs and lows, and hopefully they stay even-keel.’’
Renteria pushed hard from the first day of spring training to demand a clean brand of ball and let the chips fall where they may.
“We’ve had a couple of blips,’’ he said. “But, overall, it has been a very positive road trip.
“Everybody came into the season not thinking about the restructure or the changes that are going on. Everybody prepared to play the game. I don’t think even at this moment that anyone is thinking about what might happen or what might not happen.’’
The trades and rumors of trades that are part of the everyday existence in rebuilding haven’t affected the Sox, at least not yet, Renteria said.
“I don’t think so,’’ he said. “You can’t control those things. It doesn’t serve you very well to ponder it.’’
What serves you well is good pitching, and the Sox went into the game leading the majors with a 2.55 ERA. The bullpen had a 1.30 ERA, and when Tommy Kahnle struck out Chase Headley, Matt Holliday and Jacoby Ellsbury with upper-90s heat in the seventh, the pen had 52 strikeouts in 43‰ innings.
The first two batters for each side set the tone. Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson worked full counts against Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) in the first but swung over pitches below the knees for strike three.
Brett Gardner doubled and Headley homered to get things rolling against Covey (0-1) in the Yankees’ first. After allowing two more runs in the second, Covey gave up back-to-back homers to Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge in the fifth. Judge’s carried 448 feet with an exit velocity of 115.5 mph, according to MLB Statcast.
Pinch hitter Aaron Hicks went deep against reliever Michael Ynoa, giving the Yankees a season-high four homers.
“You kind of have to take it like it is and learn from the mistakes,’’ Covey said. “Come back the day after tomorrow and put work in to get better.’’
On a brighter note, Jose Abreu went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI after going 2-for-31 in the first eight games of the trip.
“We can’t control what people outside say about our team,’’ Abreu said.
“What we can control is what we think and what we’re trying to do every day. That’s to play hard and to win some games. That’s the mentality that Rick and I think everybody here has right now.’’
NOTES: Jose Abreu went into the game in an 0-for-19 slump.
*Avisail Garcia went hitless in two at-bats but walked twice, extending his on-base streak to all 14 games. It was only the second game in which Garcia (.423) did not get a hit.
*Masahiro Tanaka set a current Yankee Stadium record by winning six straight starts since Aug. 7 of last season.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.