White Sox lose another series, fall to 7-12 after loss to Phillies

Andrew Vaughn hit his first homer, but starter Mike Clevinger lasted only three innings.

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White Sox starter Mike Clevinger lasted three innings Wednesday.

White Sox starter Mike Clevinger lasted three innings Wednesday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The White Sox are 0-5-1 in their first six series of 2023, an ominous start to a season that has them foundering with a 7-12 record with three series left in manager Pedro Grifol’s first month on the job.

The upshot? It doesn’t look good for what lies ahead, Grifol’s belief in his team notwithstanding. The immediate future offers a trip against the 16-3 Rays and 11-8 Blue Jays, the top two teams in the tough American League East.

After that difficult assignment, the Sox return home to round out the month with another series against the Rays.

A 5-2 loss to the Phillies before an announced Wednesday-afternoon crowd of 10,149 (tickets sold) at Guaranteed Rate Field left the Sox contemplating their fifth consecutive series loss after they split with the Astros in Houston to open the season. A pattern has developed, and it suggests the Sox are not very good.

“It’s not [frustration] on my part,” Grifol said. “Every team I’ve ever been on, or a part of, you have streaks like this. Whether it’s at the start, middle, end. I’m not frustrated with these guys. I trust these guys. I trust the work they are putting in. We just have to keep going, keep battling.”

The Sox are 2-6 since shortstop Tim Anderson went down with a sprained knee and 3-6 since Yoan Moncada was lost with a sore lower back, but good teams have depth, which survives occupied injured lists. The Sox, who were riddled by injuries during their 81-81 disappointment of a year ago, aren’t surviving.

Mike Clevinger has been a bright spot in a good and bad rotation, but he lasted three innings against the Phils, allowing Trea Turner’s first homer of the season in the first inning and Brandon Marsh’s leadoff homer in the second moments after Andrew Vaughn gave Clevinger a lead with his first homer.

“I think two missed pitches, and they go over the wall,” Clevinger said.

But it took Clevinger (2-1, 3.26 ERA) a whopping 44 pitches to get through the third inning, a taxing abundance of work that stopped Grifol short of sending him out for more. He escaped in the third with one run allowed and the bases full, but with his pitch count at 75, Grifol went to left-hander Tanner Banks to eat three innings.

Banks surrendered RBI doubles to Bryson Stott and Turner in the fourth, and the Phillies (8-11) won for the fourth time in six games.

Hours after failing to tack on after Jake Burger’s three-run homer in a victorious Game 2 of a doubleheader split, the Sox got quiet against Taijuan Walker (2-1, 3.80), who allowed three singles after the first inning before getting pulled in the seventh.

The Phillies’ bullpen shut things down after that.

“These guys aren’t going up there trying to make outs,” Grifol said. “They are preparing and they are going up there to compete, and it’s not happening. You know it will turn around. That’s all I can say. It will turn around.”

The Sox scored their runs in one inning for the fourth consecutive game — they’ve done it three times in the first inning and once in the third.

They have yet to package pitching, hitting and defense in one game and haven’t won consecutive games. Now come the Rays and Jays.

“A tough challenge,” Grifol said.

“A good test,” Clevinger said.

Times have been tough, Clevinger said, “but in this resilience is where you build some character.’’

Clevinger said the passion in the clubhouse to win is “through the roof.”

Which, of course, is not enough.

“It’s just putting it all together,” he said.

That has been said for three weeks now. It just hasn’t been done.

“Again, it’s still really early,” Clevinger said. “A lot of baseball. That’s why it’s a 162-game season.”

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