Sox offense held in check for second straight game
Bats have produced three runs and nine hits in pair of losses
CHICAGO -- Picture Adam Eaton as the Kevin Bacon character at the end of the classic film Animal House, only Eaton's message platform was U.S. Cellular Field following a 4-2 White Sox loss to the Padres on Saturday afternoon.
The line from Bacon, in the middle of a Delta House-induced riot was "Remain calm. All is well." Eaton took on a slightly less theatrical variation after the White Sox offense slumbered in a second straight game against San Diego (26-30), but maintained the same message concerning his team.
"We just swept the Tribe, so let's not anybody freak out," said Eaton, referring to the three-game series before the Padres. "We're playing good baseball."
Regardless of Eaton's optimism, the White Sox offense definitely needs a jolt.
Maybe that push will come with Jose Abreu's return from the disabled list to the middle of the order Monday in Los Angeles. Abreu went through a simulated game Saturday, and despite taking a pitch just above the left elbow from Brad Salgado, a Minor League pitcher brought to Chicago from extended spring training to face Abreu in this setting, manager Robin Ventura said Abreu felt good.
Without Abreu against the Padres, the White Sox (28-29) have managed just three runs on nine hits. Seven of those nine hits have been singles, while the White Sox have struck out 23 times.
The White Sox have just one hit and two walks from the fifth through ninth innings combined during these two games, with 14 strikeouts in total. Some of the credit has to go to the Padres' pitching, with Tyson Ross (6-4) giving way to Nick Vincent, Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street (17th save) Saturday.
Part of the problem is with the White Sox approach.
"We are chasing a lot of pitches and things that we hadn't been doing," said White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn, who finished 0-for-4 Saturday. "Obviously they ran out some pretty good arms early and you know their eighth and ninth guy, they are really, really good. We are not swinging the bats the last couple of games like we are capable."
"They're a good hitting team. I wasn't very comfortable [facing them]," said Ross, who fanned five. "I just didn't have the sharpest command today."
A number of helping hands were presented by the Padres to the White Sox Saturday. They still didn't ultimately make a difference in the outcome.
San Diego had baserunners thrown out at first, second, third and home, along with two errors committed by shortstop Everth Cabrera leading to an unearned run. With Will Venable on third and one out in the second, Cameron Maybin hit a hard ground ball back to Andre Rienzo (4-2), which was grabbed by the White Sox starter and turned into 1-5-2-6 rundown, with shortstop Alexei Ramirez tagging out Venable at third.
Two runs still scored for the Padres in that inning. In the third, Carlos Quentin was thrown out at home by Eaton on Venable's run-scoring single to center. In the fourth, Cabrera was caught stealing by Tyler Flowers and the same happened to Seth Smith in the seventh. Quentin was doubled off of first in the fifth, when Ramirez made a diving catch of Chase Headley's liner up the middle and fired a strike to Dunn.
Rienzo struck out four over 3 1/3 innings, but he also walked two and allowed three runs on seven hits. Scott Carroll gave up one run in 3 2/3 innings of relief.
"Command was bad. My ball was up, my ball was flying," Rienzo said. "The walks were back and I don't really like that. It was the same as last year. If I walk a bunch of guys and my balls are up, guys will crush my balls so that happened today."
Dayan Viciedo doubled home one run off of Ross, who yielded one earned run in six innings, with a two-out shot to right-center in the fifth. Alejandro De Aza's double-play grounder scored their first run in the second, as the White Sox had runners in scoring position during every inning but the sixth against Ross.
Their 1-for-9 showing with runners in scoring position and seven men left on base contributed to the White Sox dropping to 3-10 in three-game series this season. As Eaton pointed out, though, two games does not make for panic.
"You're going to run into a good pitcher, you're going to run into a bullpen that's going to have a nice, easy seventh-eighth-ninth-inning-type thing," said Eaton, who finished 0-for-4 as well but reached base twice via errors. "But it's baseball. It happens.
"We're not freaking out in here. We were just playing really good baseball and we're going to get back to that tomorrow."
Help is on the way in the form of Abreu. When Ventura was asked if Abreu's presence makes the White Sox lineup better, he answered the obvious with an obvious, "Yes."
Of course, the White Sox need more than Abreu to survive, something they had been doing quite well before these last two games.
"We've been doing a pretty good job of putting up runs while he's on the DL," said Dunn, whose team is 7-6 without Abreu. "But it will be nice to have him back for sure."
"He is coming back but you still have to play the game," said Ventura, whose team is hitting .215 with 15 runs scored over the last six games. "They've been good so far of just staying focused in the moment and going through it. You get a couple of days where it just doesn't look good."