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Rick Renteria delivers firm criticism after White Sox loss

Kevan Smith cannot make the tag on Saturday as the White Sox fell short 3-1 against the Royals.

It was another loss, another lesson for the White Sox on Saturday.

One day after Rick Renteria benched Avisail Garcia for not hustling out of the batter’s box on a fly ball, he turned his attention to another outfielder. The Sox manager offered a measured but firm criticism of Adam Engel, who struck out when he fouled off a bunt attempt with two strikes.

The Sox lost 3-1 against the Royals to end a three-game winning streak.

Engel’s miscue came with nobody out and the tying run on first base in the seventh.

“Every single major-league hitter should know how to bunt,” Renteria said. “And I make no bones about that. That ball has got to get down. It didn’t work out. He didn’t get it down. He was frustrated about it. It’s not that he didn’t want to get it down, he just didn’t get it down. But if we can’t do it now, what’s to say [what happens when] we’re going to really have to get it down?

“It’s a good place. We have a critical situation, a moment in which you have to focus and concentrate and do your job. These are the tests that we put all our men through, because a situation is demanded of them.

“If he’s able to get it down, to slow the game down enough to do his job there, he’ll be able to slow it down and do it when it’s really, really important, which could be a playoff game, could be a wild-card game, could be a postseason game. You can’t expect that if you’re not going to do it here to expect to do it there. All these guys need to be able to do that.”

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The highlight of the night took place during the ceremonial first pitch. Sister Mary Jo Sobieck of Marian Catholic High School climbed to the top of the mound, pointed to the sky, bounced a baseball off her elbow and fired a pitch across the plate.

Sobieck’s pitch quickly went viral on social media.

“She was talking to someone [before the pitch] and wanted to warm up,” Renteria said. “She had a mitt and a ball. She gave him the mitt. She stepped back at about 45 feet and threw a bullet. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ He threw it back to her and she fielded it barehanded. I was like, ‘OK, she looks like she can play a little bit.’ ”

Starter Dylan Covey also was effective on the mound, even if he lacked Sister Mary Jo’s pizazz.

The 26-year-old settled into a groove after allowing a single and issuing a walk to the first two batters he faced. He did not allow another hit until the sixth, when he surrendered a solo home run to Alex Gordon and a run-scoring single to Jorge Bonifacio.

“This week, leading up to the start, my main focus has just been down in the zone,” said Covey, whose ERA dipped from 6.06 to 5.87. “I think I was able to do that today pretty well.

“I kind of dug myself into a hole a little bit with those two-out walks and got my pitch count up. I need to be able to attack those hitters with two outs. But overall, I think I threw the ball pretty well.”

In the second, Nicky Delmonico pulled a low pitch over the fence in right-center field for his fifth home run of the season and his second in as many days. He had gone 14 games without a homer before this series.

“He’s getting more and more comfortable,” Renteria said.