You can’t win them all, and the White Sox might be hard-pressed to win half of them in 2018.
But in the home opener Thursday, with a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a game played in bizarre, wintry, even surreal conditions in which players struggled to see the ball in the snow, the Sox really, really wanted this one.
And it was within their grasp, as unsure as grasps were on a nasty day in which getting a healthy grip on bats, balls and gloves was difficult.
“That’s a tough loss right there,’’ said veteran right-hander James Shields, who was set to win his first two starts for the first time in his accomplished career. “Especially in those weather conditions. We came out banging the ball, but unfortunately our back end of the bullpen didn’t do their job tonight. Those guys are veterans, and they’re really good back there, and I know they’re going to come back.’’
“Those guys” are Nate Jones (one run) and Joakim Soria (three), who couldn’t protect a four-run lead in a 9-7 loss in 10 innings to the Tigers.
“It’s baseball — baseball is a different sport than every other sport,’’ said Soria, who has 206 career saves. “You had two outs, then bloopers started coming up. It’s cold weather, it’s difficult.’’
No excuses, Soria was saying, especially with two outs on the two-run home run by Niko Goodrum that cut the Sox’ lead to a run. Goodrum killed a ball into a stiff wind for his first career homer over the right-field fence.
“You had to make adjustments and still perform,’’ Soria said. “I didn’t do it today.’’
Shields pitched five innings of three-run ball, giving his team a chance to win and exiting with a 6-3 lead, and Danny Farquhar and Luis Avilan combined for two scoreless innings in relief to put the game in the hands of the Sox’ two previously successful back-end relievers, Jones and Soria.
Things looked good for the home team in the home opener.
But there was Goodrum’s homer, then Victor Martinez’s tying RBI double that sank toward the line and somehow got behind left fielder Leury Garcia, who should’ve kept the ball in front of him. As it skipped past him into the corner, Nicholas Castellanos scored from first.
“You feel like you’ve got things in hand, but you can’t ever close it out,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s why you play 27 outs.’’
Or 30 outs, which a small portion of the 33,318 hearty fans stayed for, only to feel worse when struggling Gregory Infante (37.80 ERA) gave up two more runs in the 10th.
“Nobody’s going to feel good about this,’’ Renteria said. “They’ve got to leave it.
“When something like that happens, you’ve got to leave it in that clubhouse and let it go because tomorrow’s another day.’’
There was this: Matt Davidson, who’s hitting .318, had two hits (including a double), two walks, his eighth RBI and four runs; Yolmer Sanchez had three hits (including two triples) and three RBI, hiking his total to seven; and Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia each had two hits, including a double. Leury drove in two runs, and Avisail scored two.
“It’s a bummer,’’ Davidson said. “It’s a bummer for the fans, too, you know, [home opener]. But we’re a good team, and we’ll bounce back. It won’t be the last time it happens this year, and we’ll do it to other teams, too. It’s part of baseball, part of the ups and downs.’’