NEW YORK — The White Sox are trying to get a grip on the third year of their rebuild.
Thirteen games into the season, Yankee Stadium isn’t the easiest place — even against an injury-ravaged team — to grab hold and hang on during a slip-sliding start to 2019 that hasn’t done a whole lot to ensure that this rebuild is on firm footing.
Granted, infielders Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson are off to very good starts offensively while working through defensive challenges in what will be important steppingstone seasons for them. And prized outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is looking the part of a future star as he gets his feet wet in his first go at the major leagues at 22.
But the pitching in the first 13 games has been awful with a 6.55 team ERA, even after Ivan Nova’s six-plus innings of one-run ball against his former team Saturday. And the defense, shoddy all around the diamond, has done nothing much to lend a hand.
In the Sox’ 4-0 loss to the Yankees, second baseman Yolmer Sanchez mishandled a made-to-order double-play ground ball off the bat of Greg Bird in the seventh inning of a scoreless tie, setting the stage for a three-run inning against Nova, Jace Fry and Ryan Burr.
It was Sanchez’s team-high fourth error in 10 games and the infield’s 10th in 13 games.
“I just [messed] it up,” Sanchez said. “Routine ground ball. If I get that chance 100 times, 100 times I make that play. Just [messed] up.’’
The Yankees (6-8), who snapped a four-game losing streak, went on to score on pinch hitter Luke Voit’s broken-bat single over a drawn-in Anderson at shortstop, Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly to right fielder Leury Garcia on the warning track and Tyler Wade’s squeeze bunt, all against Burr.
Aaron Judge added a fourth run with a homer to right in the eighth, also against Burr (5.40 ERA), one of the Sox’ young bullpen arms auditioning for a chance to be part of the future.
It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Sox, a one-hit effort not long after they exploded for nine runs and four homers — including the first two of Jimenez’s career — in a rain-shortened 9-6 victory the night before. Against CC Sabathia, Domingo German, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman, all the visitors could muster was a single by Jose Rondon in the third inning against Sabathia, who was crisp as could be over five innings in his season debut.
The Sox are 4-9 and have been anything but crisp while matching bad 13-game starts of 1987, 2010 and last season.
On the bright side, Nova, a veteran who’s not part of the organization’s future plans, supplied the rotation’s first quality start in eight games. He was pulled after 93 pitches and no runs on the board.
“I thought he was gassed,” Renteria said.
Nova, who allowed four hits and a walk and struck out five, said he wasn’t.
“I could keep going, but that’s a manager’s decision,” Nova said.
All of which was moot if Sanchez turns the double play on the ground ball Fry was attempting to get.
Renteria said Sanchez is “pressing a little bit” and will be back in the lineup Sunday.
Sanchez (.094), who entered as a pinch hitter for Rondon against German, a tough right-hander, struck out and finished 0-for-2 as his hitting woes continued, as well.
“A bad day, and nobody wants that,’’ Sanchez said. “It’s a long season, and I believe I can help my team, and I will keep working. I’m still here — I have a chance to prove myself to them.’’