The White Sox didn’t just beat the Athletics 6-4 on Friday night, salvaging a doubleheader split at Guaranteed Rate Field. They didn’t just end a season-high eight-game losing streak and pull themselves within 25 games (ahem) of .500. They also played some outstanding baseball — at the plate, on the mound and in the field.
All of which is another way of saying the “clown” act couldn’t go on forever.
But before and after the Sox’ hideous 11-2 defeat in the first game Friday, comments by pitcher Reynaldo Lopez two nights earlier still lingered. After a 12-0 loss in Cleveland on Wednesday, Lopez, 24, had this to say:
“Honestly, we looked like clowns there, starting with me.”
The reaction to his criticism of the team was mixed.
“If I have to vent about something negative or any kind of comment that I think is not right, I’d rather go home and talk to my wife,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “But guys are different. They vent in different ways. I understand where the frustration comes from with him. I’m still going to stick behind him 100 percent.”
Veteran first baseman Jose Abreu had no problem with the “clown” label.
“I respect his comments,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “We are not playing the way that we can play. We can’t lose focus on the things that we can manage and how we need to approach the game, how we need to work to get the job done on the field. I really respect his comments.”
Lopez’s style of speaking out isn’t for everyone, though.
“If I have something to say, sometimes you have to [say it] in your clubhouse,” third baseman Yolmer Sanchez said. “I don’t like to say a lot of things about us to the media.”
Veteran pitcher James Shields knows a thing or two about a clownish team effort. Of the eight runs he allowed in taking the Game 1 loss, six were unearned. Five of them — including four in the second inning — scored after errors by second baseman Yoan Moncada, who now has 11 errors, the most at his position in baseball.
There was plenty more bad to go around, including an error in left field by Leury Garcia, a wild pitch on a strikeout by Shields that allowed a run to score, and a base-running gaffe by designated hitter Matt Davidson.
Shields (2-9) wasn’t about to resort to name-calling, though.
“You never really want to describe it that way, but I definitely understand Lopey’s frustrations,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, we are a team, and we’ve got to stick together and we’ve got to play the game the right way. We’ve got to pick our game up.”
They did that in Game 2 with a grinding seven-plus innings from starter Lucas Giolito (5-7), some dazzling defense by center fielder Adam Engel, Moncada and Anderson, and clutch hitting by the bottom four in the order — Anderson, catcher Omar Narvaez, Engel and left fielder Charlie Tilson.
“We have to play clean baseball to give ourselves a chance,” manager Rick Renteria said.
It beats a clown act any day of the week.