ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Abreu has known nothing but losing in his six seasons with the White Sox. He also says he knows a good thing when he sees one, and one of those is the Sox’ future.
Abreu soaked in another loss under the hot Texas sun Sunday afternoon, a 7-4 defeat in the rubber game of a winnable series, dropping the Sox to 36-39. Despite days like this, it has been an “absolutely” enjoyable season, Abreu said. Not so much for the record itself but for the strides made after a 100-loss season and legit hopes for better days ahead.
“For all of us who have been here for a few years, we are in this moment now where we are realizing all the process is coming together,” Abreu said. “Now with all the kids playing well, we still have plenty of room to improve, and that’s exciting. We are just scratching the surface of what we are able to do. Now it’s our responsibility, the old guys, to guide these young guys and try to push them and try to get them better every day.”
One of the hazards of going from Point C to Point B in a rebuild is plodding through with veterans who won’t be around for the better days. Yonder Alonso, struggling mightily with a .178 batting average in 214 at-bats, had another bad one, making an error on Shin-Soo Choo’s high chopper at first base that led to two unearned runs against Ivan Nova and striking out against left-hander Brett Martin with the tying run on third, go-ahead run on second and the infield playing back.
“He made some really, really good pitches,” said Alonso, who went 1-for-4 and also hit into a double play — one of three turned by the Rangers — on a sharply hit ball. “So just get the job done. And I wasn’t able to do those things.”
Manager Rick Renteria, who has limited Alonso to 10 games in June, gave him a shot at first base instead of rookie Zack Collins, who caught eight innings on a hot night 14 hours earlier. Renteria left the left-handed-hitting Alonso in to face Martin, citing favorable reverse splits.
“Here is a guy who has been around the block; you want to give him opportunities to do what he needs to do to put himself in a good place,” Renteria said.
“We all look in the mirror to see where we’re at. . . . He just hasn’t been the same guy he has been in the past.”
Tim Anderson, who drove in a run with a single against Adrian Sampson in the fifth, followed Alonso’s whiff by striking out against righty Shawn Kelley. The Rangers then tacked on two runs against Kelvin Herrera.
Nova allowed five runs — three earned — in six innings. The Rangers’ Tim Federowicz and Danny Santana hit homers against him in the second inning, Santana’s coming after Alonso’s muffed grounder on his backhand that should’ve been the third out.
“Gotta make the play,” Alonso said. “Gotta make the play.”
“I gave everything I had out there today,” Nova (3-6, 5.91 ERA) said. “I gave up that home run after two outs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make that play at first base, and that changed the whole thing. Other than that, I was pitching good.”
Nova, 32, another veteran who, like Alonso, was acquired in an offseason trade, said two of the Rangers’ hits went through vacated positions on the infield because of the shifts, and “another one was close to [Anderson] through the middle, and he couldn’t make the play.”
“But we have to play the game the way we are playing right now with the shift,” Nova said. “I got my ground balls.”
Sometimes you need a little more.