ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An RBI double that bounced off third base in a three-run first inning made Dallas Keuchel scratch his head. A handful more ground-ball hits also contributed to six runs against the White Sox lefty in an 8-4 loss to the Rays on Saturday.
Such is the life of the ground-ball pitcher. But as Keuchel said, “You gotta do better.”
Keuchel’s ERA climbed to 4.61 on the back of nine Rays hits. Per Statcast, he yielded an average exit velocity of 93.1 mph, third-highest for the veteran this season. So the Rays (76-48) were more than lucky. They scored another run in the fourth and were never really threatened by a Sox lineup missing the resting Tim Anderson and Luis Robert.
The bad-bounce double, by Wander Franco, was going to be an inning-ending force out to third baseman Yoan Moncada. Then Brandon Lowe followed with a well-struck two-run double.
“It’s just kind of the way it’s been going,” Keuchel said. “Just gotta keep making pitches and try to limit damage. It’s tough. Just didn’t really seem to find much luck or [have it] bounce my way.”
Anderson got the afternoon off from manager Tony La Russa after his heroic, “humongous effort” in the Sox’ 7-5 victory in 11 innings Friday night. It was his second day off in three days.
“He’s so active. His legs get tired,” La Russa said. “And you can play with tired legs, but you lose an edge. Give him the whole day off, and he comes bouncing back with renewed energy.”
Center fielder Robert also sat for the second time in three days, and left fielder Eloy Jimenez stayed off Tropicana Field’s turf as the DH. The Sox are in a seven-day stretch of games on artificial turf.
“Everybody knows turf is hard on outfielders,” La Russa said.
Rodon return likely Thursday
The Sox list TBA for their starter Thursday in Toronto, but the plan is to activate left-hander Carlos Rodon (shoulder fatigue) from the injured list that day “if he does a couple more things,” La Russa said. If not, Keuchel will start on four days of rest. With seven off days in the final 33 on the schedule, all starters will have extra rest heading into the postseason.
Because of elbow and shoulder injuries, Rodon has surpassed 120 innings once in his last five seasons. He’s at 109⅔ now.
“The way it’s lined up for when he throws again, he will have [extra] days off pretty much every single outing till the end,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said.
Eloy’s DH day
Jimenez has made it clear he doesn’t like to be the designated hitter, but he was Saturday for the ninth time.
“Even if I don’t like it, I have to do it for my team,” he said. “All that matters is winning. It’s not how I feel, how they feel, it’s win right now.”
Jimenez extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single. He also drove in a run on a groundout.
This and that
Jose Abreu drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, hiking his American League RBI lead to 92. It was the 763rd RBI of Abreu’s career, moving him past Carlton Fisk into seventh on the Sox’ all-time list.
• Seby Zavala hit his fifth home run of the season for the Sox’ first run.
• Outfielder Billy Hamilton (oblique) started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte.