Another bad first, another bad loss for White Sox
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PITTSBURGH — First of all …
Those first innings are killing the White Sox.
Let’s get the daily reminder out of the way: The Sox are bad and trending downward. They own the worst record in baseball (10-28)
after a 7-0 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Their latest trend — flat-bad starts by their starters fueling big first innings for their opponents — continued on a night they had their best pitcher going, so it seems no Sox pitcher is immune to these first-inning bashings, which are taking them out of games before their own cleanup batter comes up.
The Pirates clobbered Reynaldo Lopez, who entered with a 2.44 ERA, with four runs in the first, then tacked on two in the second to send the Sox to their 12th defeat in 14 games. And they did it in rapid-fire fashion, with a home run by Adam Frazier on Lopez’s second pitch, followed by a single by Gregory Polanco, a double by Starling Marte and a two-run double by cleanup man Josh Bell.
The Sox now have allowed 41 runs in the first inning. Against the Cubs over the weekend, Carson Fulmer gave up five runs in the first, James Shields surrendered four and Lucas Giolito two. To Giolito’s credit, he found a way to survive Sunday and help the Sox break a seven-game losing streak.
But Lopez, facing the Pirates for the second time in a week, couldn’t and got hit hard. While Lopez disagreed with the assessment, manager Rick Renteria said Lopez “was grappling with his emotions and struggling to focus.”
“I don’t think he came in very focused,” Renteria said. “When you come into your start . . . you come in ready to do what you need to do. That focus is vitally important.”
Lopez said he felt bad and frustrated about the result, but said he felt like he was ready to pitch.
“You always want to pitch good, but tonight was just a bad game,” he said.
“I felt good at the beginning of the game. I don’t know what happened. I was throwing strikes and feeling good, but I don’t have an answer. I feel I didn’t lose my focus, but it was a bad day. Everyone has a bad day.”
Lopez wasn’t helped much by all three of his outfielders failing to make catches on balls that looked to be playable but were ruled hits. Left fielder Nicky Delmonico did a complete 360 under Colin Moran’s liner over his head in the first, center fielder Leury Garcia jumped near the fence but watched Marte’s high, deep drive pop out of his glove for a triple in the second, and right fielder Daniel Palka tried but couldn’t glove Polanco’s tough sinking liner in the first.
Lopez figured to halt the first-inning issues but could not, leaving with a 3.50 ERA after giving up two more hits in the second and failing to record an out in the third. Chris Beck followed with 3⅔ hitless innings, leaving in the sixth with the Sox still trailing 6-0.
Trevor Williams (5-2) held the Sox to six hits while striking out six over seven innings. He walked none.
Before the game, the talk around the clubhouse was mostly about what a bright star Lopez has been in the Sox’ rebuild. In fact, Renteria praised his ability to control his emotions.
“Lopey’s ability to manage those emotions is a big part of him being able to grind through those moments,’’ Renteria said. “He’s not an arrogant young man, but he’s a confident young man who trusts what he has in his arm.’’
The only thing the Sox were feeling Tuesday was another loss. They’ll try to get out of Pittsburgh with a win Wednesday; the game starts at 11:35 a.m. Here’s to hoping left-handed starter Hector Santiago is a morning person.
“I wish I was that smart to know what is going on in those [first innings],” Renteria said. “It comes down to focus and execution. I wish I had something prophetic.”