DETROIT — There are two and a half weeks left in their season and the Sox are 29 games below .500 and, to their credit, they are still running out routine ground balls.
It’s something first-year manager Rick Renteria has demanded since spring training and is seeing it through to the end.
“That’s just a sign of who you want to be as an organization and a club,” Renteria said. “We ask those guys to do that every day.”
Home-to-first times are recorded on every at-bat, and Renteria said he still checks them after games “especially if I feel something didn’t kind of go right.” That said, at this time of the year when players might be more banged up physically, he takes that into account.
“I had a manager when I was growing up who said if you have 50 percent just give me 100 of your 50,” Renteria said. “I tell these guys all the time, ‘just give me 100 of what you got.’ It might be 80 percent of what they’re capable of but it’s everything they have at that particular moment. They’ve been grinding it out, I’ve been very proud of the way they play the game and give the effort. I think that is huge, it’s something not only the organization demands of them and expects of them but I think the fans demand of them. We’re trying to maintain a consistent approach. Win, lose or draw, just give them a good effort.”
The Sox (58-87) opened a four-game series against the Tigers having won four of their last five games. They are trying to win consecutive games on the road for the first time since June 16-17 at Toronto.
Anderson picks it up
Shortstop Tim Anderson entered the Sox series at Detroit hitting .462 with two homers, six RBI and nine runs scored in his last nine games. He took a .255/.274/.409 slugging percentage into Thursday’s game.
The general consensus is that Anderson’s performance was affected by the tragic death of a close friend in May, something he has gone through counseling for. Renteria said Anderson is in a better place “emotionally and mentally” now.
Looking at his numbers now, “you’d say, ‘gosh, this guy never had any struggles because the numbers are showing pretty well,’ ” Renteria said
Anderson still leaders the major leagues with 26 errors, but he has committed four in his last 49 games after making 22 in his first 81 and Renteria praised his clean execution on a Royals first-and-third double steal Wednesday in a 5-3 Sox victory. He made a difficult running catch in short left field with two outs and Tigers at first and third in the first inning Thursday.
“I think his focus is a little more intense,” Renteria said. “Everybody starts to understand you really need to be in every pitch.”
This and that
Yoan Moncada hit his second consecutive home run from the right side against lefty Chad Bell in the first inning Thursday, extending his hitting streak to six games.
*Renteria kept switch-hitting infielder Yolmer Sanchez, who is batting .417 with seven extra-base hits over his last six games, out of the lineup a second straight day to give Tyler Saladino a second straight start against a left-hander.
*The Sox list Sunday’s starter as TBA but “it might be” right-hander Dylan Covey, Renteria said.
*Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he might let super-utility man Andrew Romine play all nine positions in one game during the Tigers’ final three-team home stand, which opened Thursday. If so, Ausmus said it would happen against the Athletics or White Sox because they’re out of playoff contention.