A day after breaking an eight-game losing streak and lightening the mood around Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox reverted to their struggling form in a 5-2 loss in 10 innings to the Royals on Thursday.
The two-runs-a-day Sox (7-11) scrounged up only five hits, the biggest a solo homer by scuffling No. 9 hitter Leury Garcia against Brad Keller, and saw Aaron Bummer, their top late-inning left-handed reliever, struggle again with two walks in a three-run 10th inning.
The Sox played errorless ball for a second straight game, notable for a team leading the majors with 20, but the tie was broken on catcher Reese McGuire’s passed ball on a Bummer fastball just above the strike zone. That set the stage for left-handed-hitting Kyle Isbel’s two-run single.
April, which will be the Sox’ first losing month under manager Tony La Russa, can’t end soon enough.
“It is cruel,” La Russa said. “You have bases loaded, two outs, lefty against lefty and you think, ‘Wow, we get this out, and we can score a run and win.’ All of a sudden, there’s three on the board. This game will drive you nuts.”
The Sox went down in order against Taylor Clarke (second career save) in the bottom of the inning, and a ninth loss in 10 games was in the books. It was also the Sox’ third consecutive series loss to an American League Central team.
“It’s a game of wins and losses; it’s a game of doing your job or not doing your job,” Bummer said. “It’s just one of those things where, whether or not I was one pitch away, I didn’t do my job.”
Bummer’s ERA is 7.04.
“In the first two, three weeks of the season, I’ve put my team in some pretty crappy situations,” he said. “Simply just have to be better.”
Michael Kopech (1.42 ERA) threw a career-high 94 pitches and wasn’t super-sharp but allowed two runs in five innings. Tanner Banks pitched two innings, extending his scoreless streak to 12„ innings and tying Cisco Carlos (1967) for the third-longest scoreless streak by a Sox pitcher to begin a career.
Bummer took on two innings with Kendall Graveman having thrown two the day before while La Russa played it safe by not using Liam Hendriks (stiff back), although he didn’t rule out using the closer if a save situation came up.
In the ninth, Tim Anderson was given a chance to get on base leading off when shortstop Nicky Lopez’s throw pulled Carlos Santana off first, but Anderson was out on a close play. In an effort to keep his legs fresh — and in a season in which Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert already were hurt running down the line — Anderson looked to be playing it safe by going less than all out when a full burst might have resulted in a safe call.
“He’s running as hard as he knows he could,” La Russa said. “I didn’t see anything wrong with how hard he ran. Guy made a crazy throw.”
The Sox are trying to stay above water while waiting for key injured players to get back. Jimenez, Robert and Yoan Moncada were out of the lineup again. Pitchers Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Ryan Burr are working their way back from injuries, as well.
“It’s no secret we’re going through a stretch that hasn’t been easy,” said veteran Josh Harrison, who scored the tying run as a pinch runner on AJ Pollock’s short sacrifice fly to left field. “We win together and lose together, and we have to keep fighting. Everything is so magnified because we live in the moment of now.
“We might not be playing to our standards, but when things don’t go your way, you have to put your feet in the dirt even more. Don’t back down. Don’t lose that confidence.”