Another injury, another loss for White Sox as skid reaches four
Right-hander Vince Velasquez was the latest to hit the injured list, the result of a strained left groin suffered while shagging fly balls during batting practice Wednesday in Toronto.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It never ends for the White Sox.
There was another injury Friday — the Sox’ scheduled starting pitcher for the game against the Rays — and a 6-3 defeat, their fourth in four games on a road trip in the tough American League East.
The Sox have lost seven of nine, are four games below .500 and fell further behind the Twins and Guardians in the AL Central. It’s a sad and disappointing state for a team that was the odds-on favorite going into the season.
Right-hander Vince Velasquez was the latest to hit the injured list, the result of a strained left groin suffered — of all things for probably the most athletic pitcher on the staff — while shagging fly balls during batting practice Wednesday in Toronto.
Right-hander Davis Martin was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to start the first game of the series against the Rays (31-21). He put the Sox in a four-run hole six batters into the game. Martin, who had pitched five innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts in his debut May 17 against the Royals, served up an opposite-field homer to Randy Arozarena that made it 4-0.
The way the Sox are hitting and the way things are going, this game felt like it was over at the supper hour in Chicago, although they would take it to the last at-bat. Before the Rays’ four-run blitz, the Sox started the series meekly, with three strikeouts against left-hander Shane McClanahan. AJ Pollock and Andrew Vaughn went down swinging, and Yoan Moncada went down looking.
It’s to the point where a team becomes numb to the blows of one injury after another. Manager Tony La Russa knows almost every team has had their share. He also knows the Sox, who lost All-Star shortstop and leadoff man Tim Anderson to a groin strain Sunday, are kind of in their own league with injuries.
“Everybody’s getting beat up, but we just have to handle it, have to deal with it,” La Russa said Friday. “You don’t even want to say that [we’ve had more] because nobody cares. The flip side is I look at the lineup we play every day, and we can win that game. So I don’t feel like we’re at a disadvantage, and this is no disrespect to the guys we’re missing, but we’re deep enough to compete and win games to survive.”
As Martin settled in, holding the Rays without a run before he exited after 5⅓ innings, the Sox cut the deficit to 4-2 on a Moncada RBI fielder’s choice and a Jose Abreu 446-foot homer in the sixth against McClanahan. It was the only extra-base hit of the night.
The Sox (23-27) got an RBI single from Moncada in the ninth and loaded the bases to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Luis Robert struck out against Colin Poche to end it.
“Everyone sees a game their own way. I saw us get behind four runs, saw our pitcher hang in there and shut them out,” La Russa said. “I saw us get to 4-2 and have a couple chances to make it even and get the go-ahead run up in the ninth inning. That’s the game that I saw.”
Yasmani Grandal’s passed ball with two outs in the seventh moved two runners into scoring position. Ji-Man Choi then doubled in both to make it 6-2.
“No one is packing it in here, but we’re in the results business,” Pollock said. “We know we have to scratch out some wins.
“It’s a weird game. You don’t know when it’s going to turn, but if you do the right things, they’ll turn. We just need to play good baseball. String together some good at-bats. It would be nice to have a 10-run game and just blow somebody out. But that’s like saying I’m going to go 4-for-4. It’s tough.”