Rios benched for lack of hustle in loss to Braves
Outfielder doesn't run out grounder; Danks allows go-ahead HR in sixth
CHICAGO -- The White Sox record over the final 70 games of this season might not change much from the pre-All-Star break deeply sub-.500 ledger.
But Robin Ventura is bound and determined not to let the same first-half mental and physical mistakes plague his team over the season's second half. If those mistakes rise up, the White Sox manager is ready to make a quick but definitive statement.
Take Atlanta's 6-4 victory over the White Sox before 25,613 Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. The game story was Brian McCann touching up John Danks for a three-run game-winning homer in the sixth inning and a late rally by the White Sox (37-56) falling short.
Alex Rios' double-play grounder in the fifth, though, was the true tale of this contest.
With Alejandro De Aza on third and Alexei Ramirez on first, Rios' hard-hit grounder to shortstop Andrelton Simmons looked like a surefire double play. Rios, in turn, did not break quickly from the box.
Simmons bobbled the ball twice as he moved toward second, but with Rios not hustling, the inning-ending double play still was turned. The game was tied at 2 at the time, and two innings later, Rios was replaced in right field by Casper Wells.
"That was very related. We expect more than that. It was simple. Nothing more than that," said Ventura of the cause and effect with Rios' departure. "There's just expectations, and we're not starting the second half off that way.
"He'll be back in. But tonight, that's what happens when you don't run."
Rios was unavailable for comment postgame, but both Danks and second baseman Gordon Beckham spoke in generalities about the situation. Danks admitted that he didn't notice Rios was out of the game until he was in the clubhouse after seven innings of work and saw Rios in there with him. His focus was the game at hand.
Both Beckham and Danks arrived at the same point of Ventura's word and decision being the only ones that matter.
"We said all along we are going to play as hard as we can and try to win every game until the season is over," Danks said. "You know, that's part of being here."
"He's going to do what he thinks is right. That's his call," said Beckham of Ventura. "If that's what he thinks, that's what goes. There is no more that needs to be said than that."
As for the Danks-McCann battle, the two went back and forth for 10 pitches with two outs and Joey Terdoslavich and Justin Upton on base. On the 11th pitch, Danks tried to double up with a change and McCann launched it out to right.
Danks (2-7) slammed his arm in anger as the ball cleared the right-field fence, marking McCann's 13th long ball and the 14th Danks has allowed. The southpaw surrendered multiple homers in a start for the fourth time this season and fell to 3-17 in 25 starts where he has allowed a home run since 2011.
"Yeah, I don't know. I made a bad pitch," Danks said. "I kind of got to the point where for lack of a better way of putting it, I ran out of things to throw at him. He's a good hitter. He's been around a while doing what he does. He's been an All-Star and he did what All-Stars do to bad pitches."
"I was covering away and he hung a changeup in," said McCann of the deciding pitch. "I was lucky enough to put the good part of the bat on it."
Other than that blast and a two-run shot from Simmons in the third, it was another solid effort for Danks. Over seven innings and 105 pitches, Danks allowed the five runs on seven hits and struck out four without issuing a walk.
Tim Hudson (7-7) was a little bit better on this evening, as the White Sox dropped to 19 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2007. Hudson yielded four runs on eight hits, while striking out four, walking two and getting out of trouble with two double plays behind him.
Two runs came home for the White Sox in the eighth on Ramirez's run-scoring double and Jeff Keppinger's two-out single to right off reliever Jordan Walden. But Conor Gillaspie struck out swinging to end the inning, and Craig Kimbrel (27th save) fanned the side in the ninth to close things out for the Braves (55-41).
All that was left to address was why Rios' night had come to a premature end. While it's highly likely Rios will be back in the starting lineup Saturday afternoon, Ventura wasn't worried about pulling a potential prime trade target in-game on Friday.
"I'm just worried about our team and how we go about it," Ventura said. "I just told him he was coming out. That was it. He knows, so it's pretty simple. There's not a long explanation required.
"You lose and it's disappointing, but you see guys still grinding and getting after it. There were some good things to come out of it."