CHICAGO -- Playing from behind almost all game, stout defense kept the White Sox from being left completely in the dust. Once down 4-1, the White Sox nearly completed an impressive comeback but ultimately fell to the Rays, 5-4, at Guaranteed Rate Field.The White Sox threw out three Rays baserunners
CHICAGO -- Playing from behind almost all game, stout defense kept the White Sox from being left completely in the dust. Once down 4-1, the White Sox nearly completed an impressive comeback but ultimately fell to the Rays, 5-4, at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox threw out three Rays baserunners at home, including speedy outfielder Mallex Smith twice. That kept the door open in the later innings against a Rays bullpen that entered Monday with the fourth-highest ERA (4.78) in the American League.
But ultimately the White Sox came up short.
"We just needed that one big hit," manager Rick Renteria said. "I thought it did line up very well toward the end, we just couldn't get that big knock to at least, at that point, maybe win the ballgame."
The White Sox were fortunate to play at all Monday. Though the game was originally moved up from a 7:10 p.m. CT start time to 1:10 p.m., two inches of snow fell overnight at Guaranteed Rate Field. The grounds crew began to ready the field at 5:30 a.m., however, and turned a potential snowout into a mere 21-minute delay.
Chicago's offense, as cold throughout the weekend as the mid-30s game-time temperature, rustled slightly in their slumber Monday, as Nicky Delmonico hit his first home run of the season and Omar Narvaez collected an RBI double. But on the whole, the White Sox went 2-for-16 with RISP and left 12 men on base.
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"We're in the mindset sometimes of a hitter. They start thinking about the hit as opposed to the pitch and just getting something that you can handle," Renteria said. "Because the guy on third is nothing until he crosses home plate, he's just a runner on the base. So ultimately getting the positive result, trying to get a good swing on the ball and getting those runs across, I thought we battled."
The White Sox start the season 0-4 at home following a sweep by the Tigers. Their big opportunities came in the eighth and ninth. Rays reliever Sergio Romo struck out Yoan Moncada and Avisail Garcia to protect the Rays' lead in the eighth. When Chicago put runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth, Rays closer Alex Colome induced three straight groundouts to end the game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Defending the plate: The Rays had a couple of chances to break Monday's game open, but were stopped by some excellent White Sox defense. In the fourth inning, Smith dashed home from third on a hard ground ball. Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson, with the infield playing in, picked up the short hop and nailed Smith at the plate to prevent the Rays' from scoring a second run in the inning. Then in the fifth, center fielder Leury Garcia fielded Wilson Ramos' single and threw out Matt Duffy at home on the fly to keep the score at 4-1 Tampa Bay.
Archer relieved: The White Sox were able to knock Rays starter Chris Archer out in the sixth inning when Moncada drew his second walk, putting runners on first and second for Avisail Garcia. The opportunity was ripe, as they had their first hit with runners in scoring position since Thursday when Delmonico homered in the fifth, but Garcia grounded into a forceout to end the threat. The Rays' bullpen locked it down after that.
"We've got to be ready. Doesn't matter the circumstances. We have to keep playing, keep grinding, going out there and giving our all. Everyone else is doing it. There's no excuses on that." -- White Sox starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, on playing through the rough weather on this homestand
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
It has not been a good homestand for the White Sox offense in clutch situations. Their effort in Monday's loss left them 6-for-40 on the homestand with runners in scoring position, contributing to the team's first 0-4 home start since 1987.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays had a third runner thrown out at home in the eighth inning. With one out, Smith stood at third base when White Sox reliever Luis Avilan attempted a pickoff throw to first. Smith took off for the plate, but first baseman Jose Abreu fired home in time to get Smith out at the plate. The Rays challenged the out call, but the ruling stood after a two-minute review.
White Sox: Chicago plays its fifth straight day game on this six-game homestand when the White Sox take on the Rays at 1:10 p.m. CT at Guaranteed Rate Field. Carson Fulmer makes his second start of the season and second against the American League East.
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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.