Rays’ 10-run 7th inning extends White Sox’ skid to 10

Manager Pedro Grifol wouldn’t confirm if the Sox conducted a team meeting. But after a demoralizing 12-3 loss, a series of parent-teacher conferences is more appropriate.

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Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox

Josh Lowe is safe at the plate in the seventh inning as Yasmani Grandal fails to catch the relay throw.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Manager Pedro Grifol wouldn’t confirm Saturday if the White Sox conducted a team meeting.

But after a demoralizing 12-3 loss to the Rays that extended the Sox’ losing streak to 10 games, a series of parent-teacher conferences is more appropriate.

The Rays’ 10-run seventh-inning rally deflated the optimism built by Lance Lynn’s six hitless innings. Lynn retired 17 consecutive batters with the comfort of a 3-0 lead before the Sox embarked on a disastrous half-inning that mirrors their skid and lapses that have typified their 7-21 start — two games worse than the pace of the 1962 Mets, who lost 120 games.

“You can’t hide from it,” Grifol said. “It happened, and we got a game Sunday.”

This equals the Sox’ longest losing streak, set in 2013. The collapse occurred five innings after Grifol pulled center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who jogged to first base after hitting a grounder to the mound.

Robert said his legs, particularly his right hamstring, were sore from running frequently in Friday’s game. But he said he didn’t tell Grifol before Saturday’s game.

“Our expectations are that you run down the line,” Grifol said.

Said Robert: “I understand the decision because [Grifol] didn’t know.”

Meanwhile, many of the fans who booed Robert for his apparent lack of effort changed to “Sell the team” during the Rays’ outburst.

Their anger surfaced steadily after Wander Franco broke up Lynn’s no-hit bid with a home run. A perfect relay from left fielder Gavin Sheets to shortstop Elvis Andrus went for naught when catcher Yasmani Grandal couldn’t handle Andrus’ throw that tailed into Josh Lowe, who was sliding into home plate.

Lynn, who backed up the play, was charged with an error when he flipped the ball to Grandal, who was looking elsewhere and enabled Isaac Paredes to advance to third. Paredes scored the tying run on Manuel Margot’s infield hit, and Randy Arozarena and Lowe capped the rally with consecutive homers off Jimmy Lambert.

“There’s been a lot of pressing,” Lynn said. “When you’re losing, you press more.”

The Sox fell to 0-6 against the Rays (23-5) this season, and the gap between the Sox and the American League’s elite teams is widening rapidly despite efforts by Grifol and the coaching staff to eliminate their flaws and maintain their focus.

Robert, in the midst of a 5-for-55 slump with 20 strikeouts, took his position in center for the top of the second but was lifted for pinch hitter Oscar Colas in the bottom of the inning.

Robert’s incident occurred one day after Grifol spoke openly about the Sox’ lack of defensive focus in a 14-5 loss Thursday to the Rays.

Former Sox managers haven’t hesitated to pull players for a lack of hustle, as Ozzie Guillen did with Juan Uribe, Robin Ventura with Alex Rios and Rick Renteria with Avisail Garcia.

But the timing couldn’t have been any worse for a team trying to pull itself out of an abyss with two of their healthy starters mired in a rut.

Robert and Eloy Jimenez (9-for-51 with 17 strikeouts) have slumped during a period in which shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Yoan Moncada are recovering from injuries.

Anderson went 1-for-3 in his second rehab game for Triple-A Charlotte while playing five innings at shortstop. He could return in time for a three-game series against the AL Central rival Twins, but Saturday’s loss assured the Sox of not winning consecutive games or a series through April.

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