For White Sox, home is where the hurt is after another loss to Tigers
Lucas Giolito cracked, and the Sox fell again on their own turf. The 7-5 loss dropped them to 17-25 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Manager Tony La Russa doesn’t see urgency as a problem for the White Sox, who entered the second half Friday night needing to gain ground on the first-place Twins and second-place Guardians in a stretch of 19 consecutive games against division foes that concludes July 24.
“I think you need to feel the urgency every day because you’ve got to collect wins,” La Russa said.
After a 7-5 loss to the Tigers, the level of desperation heightens for the Sox (39-43), who fell to 17-25 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Lucas Giolito’s five innings of one-hit ball vanished when Jeimer Candelario hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth. Former Cub Javy Baez later hit a two-run double off reliever Joe Kelly to cap a four-run seventh and responded to a chorus of boos by opening his arms as he stood at second base.
Center fielder Luis Robert, who hit a two-run homer in the first, dropped a fly ball hit by Spencer Torkelson with two outs in the eighth, enabling the Tigers to add another run.
The sub-.500 home record has been extremely disappointing, especially after the Sox held the league’s best record over the previous two seasons (71-40) while returning the fulcrum that produced consecutive playoff appearances over that span.
“It’s a different year,” said shortstop Tim Anderson, who momentarily overran and slipped off second base, resulting in him being tagged out to end a rally in the fifth. “Things happen. Try not to dig too much into it.”
On his sudden decline, Giolito was succinct.
“It was good, and then it was really bad,”
Giolito (5-5) retired the first two batters in the seventh, which, according to La Russa, earned him the right to try to finish the inning after allowing a hit and a single.
But Candelario, who struck out in his first at-bat, foiled Giolito’s attempt by hitting a tie-breaking single to right.
“[Giolito] was the guy that I thought earned that right to get that out, and I was confident he would,” La Russa said in a terse tone.
Despite the offense’s mid-game siesta, the Sox rallied for three runs in the eighth and put the tying run at first in each of the final two innings. But that’s little consolation for thousands of antsy and irate Sox fans who expected a deep run in the postseason.
“I think you have to identify what’s different about playing at home, playing on the road,” La Russa said before the game. “The explanation doesn’t jump out at you. We haven’t been as productive, so we’ve got to come up with some answers about that.”
Identifying the problems at home could be easier than washing off the stench of some of their toughest losses, starting with a 12-9 loss to the Guardians in 11 innings on May 9, when the Sox blew an 8-2 lead heading into the ninth.
One month later, a 4-0 lead dissolved amid questioning of La Russa’s decision to intentionally walk Trea Turner with two strikes in order to pitch to Max Muncy, who hit a home run that fueled an 11-9 Dodgers win.
Monday’s 6-3 loss to the Twins in 10 innings included Adam Engel and Yoan Moncada running into a triple play.
“The [home] record speaks for itself,” La Russa said. “So you identify the problem, and you attack it. We’ve noticed for a while, especially compared to last year. This is a brand new year.”
The offensive struggles at home remain puzzling, as the Sox were hitting 36 points lower at home (.236) than on the road and had a .358 home slugging percentage — 39 points lower than on the road — entering Friday.
“The guys like to play here, and the fans are very vocal and supportive,” La Russa said. “So it really is not an easy answer.”