As season winds down, White Sox still looking for better plate discipline

They entered the game Friday against the Tigers swinging at 36.4% of pitches outside the strike zone, the highest percentage in the American League, according to FanGraphs.

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Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

Manager Tony La Russa continues to express confidence in the Sox’ hitters.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The White Sox’ search for improved plate discipline continues.

They entered their game Friday against the Tigers swinging at 36.4% of pitches outside of the strike zone, the highest percentage in the American League, according to Fangraphs.

It also has provided an escape hatch for opposing pitchers, as the Sox were batting .256 with a runner at third base and less than two out — 101 points lower than their mark in the same situation last season.

They also ranked 10th in the AL with a .209 batting average with the bases loaded — 39 points lower than last season.

Their struggles were magnified in a 5-3 loss Thursday to Zack Greinke and the Royals in which they went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

Manager Tony La Russa, as is his custom, preferred to look at the bigger picture with 50 games left entering Friday.

‘‘The way I look at it, if you take the first couple of months, look where [Jose] Abreu is now,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘He’s been one of the best hitters in the American League. You get Eloy [Jimenez] back, he’s been really good.”

Since he was batting .197 with a .584 OPS after play May 15, Abreu has increased his batting average by 101 points and his OPS by 254 points.

However, Yoan Moncada (.196/.566) and Yasmani Grandal (.204/.566) have been hampered by injuries and continue to struggle. They did, however, combine for three of the nine hits against Greinke.

‘‘[Greinke has] got a serious arsenal of pitches,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I’ve seen him have guys chase, [hit] double-play balls. He’s smart. I just give him credit, unfortunately.’’

Power outage

Yankees star Aaron Judge’s power has seized much of the attention this season, but the Sox rank 11th in the AL with 98 home runs.

‘‘There have been a lot of warning-track fly balls,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘When the ball hits the bat, you think, ‘Hey! . . . No.’ It happened in Kansas City several times.

‘‘So whatever they’re doing to have the ball play a little less lively I think is working.’’

A recent exception was Lenyn Sosa’s first major-league homer Tuesday that landed in the water fountain at Kauffman Stadium.

‘‘The legitimate home runs are legitimate,’’ La Russa said.

This and that

Reliever Joe Kelly was examined before the game, one day after experiencing lightheadedness.

• Infielder Leury Garcia didn’t start for the third consecutive game because of back and hip soreness but entered as a pinch runner in the eighth inning.

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