White Sox struggles at plate on display vs. LA

Burger's home run isn't enough after Cueto recovers from slow start vs. Dodgers

June 9th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Leury García has been a focus of the White Sox ongoing offensive struggles since the start of the 2022 season.

That scenario played out again during Chicago’s 4-1 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, as García finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including a strikeout against Los Angeles starter Tony Gonsolin (7-0) with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth. The White Sox (26-28) scored just once in the frame on Jake Burger’s leadoff home run.

“Yeah, I feel like [crap] at the plate. But I give it all I got,” García said after the White Sox three-game winning streak came to an end. “That's all I got. I give it 100 percent and struck out three times.

“Nobody wants three strikeouts. But I just have to keep working and all the situations, they're going to change.”

García’s slash line dropped to .183/.193/.270 against right-handers, with the White Sox featuring a 19-22 record against righty starters this season. But with all due respect to García, a versatile, affable and at times, game-changing switch-hitter in his 10th season with the club, he should not be the focus of what should be a high-powered crew on Chicago’s South Side.

García could be moved near the bottom of the order, especially during these tough times at the plate. But there are players throughout this lineup not hitting leadoff -- as García did on Wednesday -- who also are not hitting.

Four White Sox starters finished the game with an OPS below .600, with Gavin Sheets checking in at .601. The team will need greater production from Yasmani Grandal (.487 OPS overall, .437 against right-handers), who is one of the top hitting catchers in the game, and third baseman Yoán Moncada (.398 OPS overall, .367 vs. righties) -- as two examples -- to ultimately catch the Guardians or Twins in the American League Central. Minnesota now holds a five-game lead over manager Tony La Russa’s Chicago squad.

La Russa gave credit postgame to Gonsolin, who has a 1.58 ERA this season, while acknowledging his team’s tough at-bats during limited scoring opportunities. He also didn’t directly address a desire for wholesale lineup changes.

“Well, I consider everything,” La Russa said. “I also consider we won three in a row, so I’m not dumping a club just because they got beat one game where a guy with a 1.00 ERA shuts us down.”

“This team has a lot of talent, young talent,” White Sox starter and losing pitcher Johnny Cueto said through interpreter Billy Russo. “People here know what they need to do in order to get the results. There is still plenty of season to play and we're going to be OK."

Cueto is winless in his last 10 games (nine starts) and is winless as a member of the White Sox. He allowed early home runs to Will Smith and Cody Bellinger before settling down to yield just three runs on four hits and one walk over six innings with five strikeouts.

But the lack of offensive support once again hurt Cueto.

“My focus is just to do my best every time I'm on the mound,” Cueto said. “I can't focus on what happens around me. I just do my job."

“We haven’t been scoring a lot,” La Russa said. “But we don’t score at all for him.”

There’s validity to La Russa’s argument in that a good pitcher on one of baseball’s best teams shut down a White Sox offense showing some life since Burger’s game-winning home run at the Rays on Saturday. There also have been too many low production games such as this one to factor in the benefit of the doubt or the proverbial hat tip.

It’s the same sort of issues plaguing García during this trying season.

“You have to get confident. It's all about that. But like I said, keep working and we'll see what happens,” García said. “It wasn't the best night. But we have to just keep working and try to get better. We know we can get better.”