No absence of fight in struggling White Sox

May 18th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The great start to the season for the White Sox, though it still has them leading the Indians in the American League Central by 3 1/2 games, has hit a bump in the road.

After Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Astros in 11 innings at U.S. Cellular Field, the South Siders are on a three-game losing streak. Since giving up a seven-run eighth to the Rangers one week ago in Texas, they have a 1-5 record.

So how can a seemingly good White Sox team get pointed back in the right direction, especially after losing all five of these games by one or two runs? Catcher Alex Avila had a straightforward response.

"Win. It's pretty easy," Avila said. "Just get a good outing from your pitcher, make some clean plays in the field and get a timely hit when you need it. We battled today. Best way to do it is win."

Good fortune hasn't exactly shined upon the White Sox in the past week. It was Evan Gattis' two-run, two-out, 0-2 homer off reliever Matt Albers that ultimately provided the margin of victory, with George Springer scoring ahead of Gattis.

Springer swiped second one batter earlier when Carlos Correa swung through strike three for the second out and then fell over in Avila's direction. No interference was called by home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo, with the explanation being that Correa tried to duck out of the way and didn't make contact.

Might Avila have had a better chance to nail the fleet-footed Springer and end the 11th?

"He's 6-foot-4 and I'm 5-foot-10, so there's still a difference there," Avila said. "He was in front of me. I couldn't step through it and tried to throw over him. Next time if that happens again, I'll just throw it like I normally would."

"Alex had altered the way he was throwing. He had to go over the top of him and it doesn't matter if he swings or not," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who briefly debated the issue with Randazzo. "If it impedes his throw or makes him alter it, he should be out. That was my feeling on that. He didn't feel he did it. Obviously, a difference of opinion."

But one call certainly didn't decide the game, not when the White Sox had enough chances to strand nine baserunners. Chicago battled back to tie the score off Houston closer Luke Gregerson with one run in the ninth and had the winning run at the plate with Avila in the 11th, but Avila was struck out by Tony Sipp.

There's no absence of fight in this team. It's the wins that haven't been there.

"You've got to battle through it, and our guys will do that," Ventura said. "Everybody doesn't have it go their way the whole year. You have to have some thick skin and you have to get through it."