The beat goes on.
The losses mount, at a historic pace.
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And the White Sox keep on keepin’ on, keeping their chins up and insisting things will turn for the better as they slog through these trying, losing times.
These are bleak days indeed for the 9-27 Sox, who have lost seven straight games, 11 of 12 and 20 of 25 after an 8-4 defeat to the Cubs on Saturday at damp and chilly Wrigley Field, a loss that cemented the franchise’s worst start after 36 games.
You begin to wonder how much more they can take.
A day after Carson Fulmer gave up a grand slam to Willson Contreras and fell behind 5-0 in the first inning of an 11-2 loss, the Sox waited out a two-hour, 15-minute rain delay only to see James Shields give up a three-run homer to Anthony Rizzo in a four-run first. The way the Sox are going, it felt like it was over, and it kind of was. Shields, however, found a groove, retiring 14 of the last 15 Cubs he faced, after the damage was done.
The mood was subdued in the visitors’ clubhouse before and after this one. But the Sox insist they’re OK.
“We’re not playing the type of baseball we want to play,” said Adam Engel, a .190 hitter who went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored as a first-time leadoff man. “Our expectation is higher than how we’re playing. But we had a chance to tie the game there with one of our best hitters. This team fights and battles, and that’s something we can take away from it.”
Matt Davidson clubbed his 10th homer, a three-run opposite-field poke in the eighth against Carl Edwards Jr., to cut the lead in half. And a two-base error by right fielder Kris Bryant forced Cubs manager Joe Maddon to bring in closer Brandon Morrow.
Morrow struck out struck out pinch hitters Yolmer Sanchez and Daniel Palka but walked Tim Anderson to put the tying run at the plate in Jose Abreu, but Abreu grounded out to cue “Go, Cubs, Go” on the Wrigley sound system for the second straight day.
Abreu, for one, insists the team is not this bad.
“No. This team is much better than the record shows,” he said through translator Billy Russo. “We have a talented group of young guys and a few veterans who still have fuel in the tank who can lead this team.”
“They’re good,” hitting coach Todd Steverson said of his position players’ collective mindset. “They’re getting after it. You’re not in the dugout, but they’re in there every day [saying], ‘Come on, we got this.’ We might be down four or five but the feeling is we can come back.”
The Sox rank in the bottom third of the American League in runs, slugging percentage, homers, average, on-base percentage, OPS and average with runners in scoring position. Steverson says “no excuse” — the Sox struggled when they were healthy, too — but he’d welcome a stretch of good weather.
“There have been some lulls with the snow, rain, weather and off days,” Steverson said. “Nothing has been consistent as far as a routine. That’s no excuse for anyone who is scuffling but you would like to continue to play.”
“Other teams are dealing with the same,” Abreu said. “We can only control what we can on a daily basis.
“Everybody knows we’re passing through a difficult moment. [Manager Rick Renteria] always tells us to keep our heads up and keep working hard. Even though we’re going through a frustrating time with [seven] straight losses, we always show up in a good mood trying to win.”
Renteria does. As always, as trying as it might be, he keeps his head up.
“I know we fell short, but if this can’t build a little confidence in them, get them back on track, nothing can,” he said.
The Sox will try to avoid a series sweep Sunday.