So much for clinching the American League Central championship Tuesday.
Needing a victory against the Tigers in the afternoon and a loss by the Indians to the Royals at night, the White Sox lost 5-3 on Tuesday at Comerica Park to delay a celebration for at least another day. (The Indians won 4-1 to keep the Sox’ magic number at two.)
The Sox banged out 12 hits and drew six walks but had only a two-run single by Luis Robert in the third inning and an RBI single by Tim Anderson in the eighth to show for it. They didn’t defend the Tigers’ running game and looked sloppy on the field when Anderson sailed a throw high over first baseman Jose Abreu’s head. (Anderson later made amends by throwing out the Tigers’ Victor Reyes at the plate.) And Yoan Moncada was out trying stretch a leadoff double into a triple.
‘‘Today in the dugout, it was alive the whole time,’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘But then you’ve got to translate it. You play hard, then you’ve got to play well.’’
The Sox (85-66) are taking their time with the clincher. They have lost five of their last seven games and are 31-31 since the All-Star break. They also are 2-7-1 in road series since the break.
During their 2-5 stretch, the Sox have scored no more than three runs in their losses. The division title has been a given for some time, but the Sox need to execute better in all phases, La Russa said.
‘‘We’ve been treading water for a while,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve been a .500 club.’’
Niko Goodrum’s RBI single against left-hander Jace Fry broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh, and Reyes singled home two runs against left-hander Aaron Bummer.
La Russa said a number of relievers were unavailable, so Fry (0-1) was used for five outs and 33 pitches before Bummer and closer Liam Hendriks finished up.
‘‘We’d like to be playing some really good ball come the last week,’’ said left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who allowed two runs and 11 hits in five innings. ‘‘Are we going to come out really strong, like we know we can, or are we going to come out and not put all three phases of the game together? I don’t know.’’
Engel in lineup
Outfielder Adam Engel returned from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Charlotte and started in right field. He was 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
‘‘I’m glad the timing is working out the way it is, so I can get into the feel and the speed of a big-league game,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m excited to help the team win going down the stretch here and hopefully hit my stride going into the postseason.’’
To make room for Engel on the active roster, the Sox optioned infielder Romy Gonzalez to Charlotte.
Right-hander Ryan Tepera (cut index finger) hopes to throw off a mound this week in Cleveland, then have two side sessions before pitching next week.
‘‘Probably try to get in two or three games before the playoffs,’’ he said.
Tepera played catch Tuesday ‘‘and really let it go,’’ but the finger still is wrapped.
‘‘It’s more kind of like a little blood blister right now,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a little bit sensitive in that little spot where it jabbed me and where it went in deep.’’