Thornton throws away chance at victory
Lefty commits error, allows two runs; Axelrod works six stellar innings
CHICAGO -- With all due respect to Justin Masterson and the Indians, Cleveland didn't completely win Monday's 3-2 series opener at U.S. Cellular Field as much as the White Sox gave it away.
Yes, Asdrubal Cabrera, mired in a 9-for-63 slump to start the season, delivered a two-run, two-out single in the eighth off Matt Thornton to erase a one-run lead. But it was the South Siders' physical and mental errors that put the Indians (8-10) in position for the comeback.
It's a painful trend that has clearly bothered manager Robin Ventura from the season's outset, with his White Sox team committing 13 errors in its 19 games.
"When you give Major League teams opportunities, they're going to take advantage of them," Ventura said. "It's just one of those that you keep shooting yourself in the foot. Until we clean it up, you're going to lose games. It's just that simple. It's not hard to figure out.
"As far as us playing defense, you don't see this coming. Every night you're making that one mistake and at this level, it's going to hurt every time you do it."
Monday's error came from Thornton (0-1), who tried to pick off Drew Stubbs from second base with Michael Brantley behind him on first and one out in the eighth. Thornton's throw went through Stubbs' legs and past shortstop Alexei Ramirez, moving the runners up one base.
Thornton managed to strike out Jason Kipnis for the second out before Cabrera ripped one to center. After the White Sox fourth straight loss and 10th in 13 games, Thornton stood at his locker and accepted blame for the defeat.
"Back-to-back days the bullpen blew it. Well, I blew it today and yesterday it was a combination," said Thornton of the set play that cost him. "I spun and I threw it in between Stubbs' legs. There's no chance Alexei could get that ball. I gave the game away."
"That was perfect," said Cabrera, presenting the counter viewpoint of Thornton's miscue. "That's what I was thinking when I was waiting. That was the perfect time for winning the game."
A blown chance to add on runs in the seventh cost the White Sox. Hector Gimenez was hit by a Masterson pitch in the left shin, causing Gimenez to leave the game, and Jordan Danks walked on four pitches. But pinch-runner Blake Tekotte was picked off second base by catcher Carlos Santana on the first pitch to Alejandro De Aza, when Tekotte took too big of a lead as De Aza squared to bunt, and De Aza grounded into a double play on the next offering.
Gimenez did not have an X-ray on his shin and said that he felt better when talking to the media after the game. Tekotte vowed to not let what happened on the basepaths happen again.
"It was my fault. I got a little bit too far out there and I shouldn't have put myself in that situation," Tekotte said. "I'll learn from it. I take the blame on that one. I felt like I lost momentum a little bit there for us."
These mistakes become a bit more glaring with the White Sox (7-12) once again failing to hit. Masterson (4-1) allowed Conor Gillaspie's solo homer in the second and Gimenez's run-scoring double in the fourth but limited the White Sox to four hits over seven, while striking out five and walking four.
Dylan Axelrod matched Masterson, yielding one run on three hits, while striking out four and walking two. He threw 109 pitches but exited with a no-decision.
"He did a tremendous job," said Gimenez of Axelrod. "Every pitch I called he threw right where I wanted."
"I can't ask myself to do anything else but keep us in it and be ahead coming out of the game," Axelrod said. "It's just unfortunate. We're in a little bit of a rut. We just need to find a way to get it done."
Until the White Sox start hitting, they will continue to search for that elusive winning formula.
Adam Dunn finished 0-for-4, leaving him 7-for-69 on the season. Jeff Keppinger broke a career-worst 0-for-24 skid with two hits, but the team as a whole is hitting .204 over the last 10 games and is 8-for-46 with runners in scoring position during that span. The White Sox have stranded 27 total runners over the last three games, all home losses within the American League Central.
Add those shortcomings with the bat to Monday's miscues, and a pretty quiet postgame White Sox clubhouse is the result.
"If we had been winning games, it doesn't hurt as much," Thornton said. "When you have a string of losses going together and you make a mistake like that, it costs you a game. It's frustrating, disappointing, but we move on and get ready for tomorrow.
"Everyone is doing what they can to get ready every single day. We have a good team and we believe in ourselves and keep on pulling for each other and pushing each other. We'll be fine."