CLEVELAND — The last time they were at Progressive Field 19 days ago, the White Sox got swept in a three-game series and held a team meeting before they left town.
After losing to the Indians 6-2 Monday to open a short three-game trip with their fifth consecutive defeat, it was time for another wake-up call. Never mind that this is a young team in a rebuild — it was a night fraught with bad looks.
“It didn’t feel good,” manager Rick Renteria said of the performance. “I know the guys are a little fatigued, but everybody is fatigued.’’
Sensing some fatigue in a stretch of 21 games in 20 days, Renteria allowed players to arrive at the park later than usual, but they looked anything but fresh at the start.
“Young players have to learn to deal with it and play,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘You have to compete. This is big-league baseball.’’
It didn’t look like it, though. In the first inning, catcher Kevan Smith threw well wide of second on Michael Brantley’s stolen base. Yoan Moncada misplayed a high chopper to his right for his eighth error of the season in a nightmarish second, and right-hander Dylan Covey threw low and through first baseman Jose Abreu on a pickoff attempt for another error in the third.
The blooper-reel play, though, came immediately after Moncada’s error when Jason Kipnis’ bunt with two runners on rolled under Covey’s glove and between his feet, then off the glove of third baseman Yolmer Sanchez.
Renteria was peeved because he heard no one make a call on the play. Covey said he heard from Sanchez, but it was “at the last second,” prompting the awkwardness of the whole thing.
“I kind of had to jump over it, got in his way,” Covey said. “It was just a weird play and a good bunt.”
There was no error assessed, same as there were none charged on more difficult but perhaps playable hot smashes past shortstop Tim Anderson’s swiping glove and Sanchez’s backhand. Charlie Tilson also got a bad jump on a single that fell in front of him.
On the bases, Moncada was caught stealing on a strikeout-throwout double play in the first, and Matt Davidson failed to pick up third-base coach Nick Capra when his double inside first base got behind right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall near the side wall in the second. Davidson, who seemingly could have continued to third but checked up at second, had a conversation with Capra in the dugout after the inning.
On top of all that, Covey had his worst outing after six very good ones. He gave up his first homer of the season, a solo shot by Jason Kipnis in the fifth, and walked five (one intentionally) in five innings after walking one in his previous two starts combined.
Covey entered with a 1.00 ERA in his last 18 innings. His ERA jumped from 2.29 to 2.90.
“It stinks [because] I’ve been on such a good run, but this is baseball,’’ Covey said. “You’re bound to have games where your best pitch isn’t quite working. Fastball command was a little bad. I was trying to throw too good of a pitch, being too fine instead of letting my [sinking, fading] action in the zone take over.’’
At 24-47, the Sox are a season-low 23 games under .500. To make it a little worse, they had to sit through a 35-minute rain delay in the seventh inning.
The delay marked the end of the night for tough right-hander Trevor Bauer (6-5, 2.50 ERA), who held the Sox to Moncada’s leadoff single, Davidson’s ground-ball double and a single by Abreu. Bauer walked two and struck out eight. Davidson’s solo homer to right-center against Dan Otero in the ninth and Sanchez’s RBI single against Evan Marshall in the eighth — before Marshall walked off with Indians training staff with a sore right elbow — accounted for the only offense.