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Renteria says loss beyond Eloy's misplay

@scottmerkin
August 7, 2020

CHICAGO -- Much of the focus following Milwaukee’s 8-3 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field Thursday night will fall upon Eloy Jiménez and the play he could have -- and maybe even should have -- made in left field with one out in the fifth inning. That

CHICAGO -- Much of the focus following Milwaukee’s 8-3 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field Thursday night will fall upon Eloy Jiménez and the play he could have -- and maybe even should have -- made in left field with one out in the fifth inning.

That fly ball hit by Christian Yelich turned the potential second out for White Sox left-hander Gio González -- protecting a 2-1 lead -- into a game-tying, inside-the-park home run. It also sparked a four-run inning.

Box score

But in the mind of White Sox manager Rick Renteria, Jiménez’s defensive shortcoming was not the whole story of the team’s second straight setback.

In fact, it was a total team loss.

“It wasn’t one of our better games, guys,” said Renteria during his postgame Zoom session. “I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it. It was not one of our better games today. Thankfully we have not had a lot of them like this.”

Yelich didn’t seem sure if his fifth-inning fly ball would stay fair, a sentiment echoed by González, and Yelich really turned on the afterburners rounding first. Jiménez did not appear to get a good initial read on the ball, and he then became entangled as his momentum carried him into the protective netting down the line after Yelich’s hit fell a few feet from his outstretched attempt.

Avisaíl García followed Yelich’s dash around the bases by coaxing a walk after being down 0-2 and Jedd Gyorko lined a two-run home run to left after also being behind at 0-2 to González. The Brewers scored one more unearned run in the frame.

“It's probably the luckiest home run baseball history. It was definitely top three,” Yelich said. “I needed that one. It's been an absolute zoo. I've been awful all year, so to have some positivity and be able to smile about something was nice. Much needed.”

“Was it a tough play for him? Yes. Could it have been made? Should it have been made? It’s possible,” Renteria said. “But he did everything he could to kind of corral it. That’s probably not the story of the game. The story of the game is we were probably shut down a little bit on the offensive side, which didn’t give us a whole lot moving forward.”

Leury García’s two-run home run off of Josh Lindblom stood as the White Sox only runs until the ninth, when García doubled home a third. They had another scoring chance in the seventh off of Freddy Peralta, but Zack Collins’ long drive to right off a swing on a 3-0 count was caught at the wall by Mark Mathias with two runners on base and two outs.

Otherwise, it was a somewhat forgettable evening, dropping the White Sox to 1-4 at home amid a pretty solid 7-6 start overall. The top five hitters in the lineup finished 2-for-19 with 13 strikeouts, and even rookie phenom Luis Robert, who had hit in five straight games and 11 of 12 this season, had an off night with four strikeouts.

“He’s probably going to be a little frustrated, coming into the dugout a little frustrated after the at-bats,” said Renteria of Robert. “But these are tremendously big learning experiences for him. We’ve talked about it. Tonight does not take away from what this young man is going to be capable of doing.”

Renteria believes just as much in Jiménez’s defense, which has received its fair share of questions over the past two seasons.

“The story is not finished at all in terms of where he’s at defensively or how he’s going to improve. My expectation is that he will still continue to improve,” Renteria said. “This is probably a blip and time will tell if I’m absolutely off my rocker and wrong, but he has been playing pretty decent out there.

“His jumps have been good, his reads, his drop step. I’m not too concerned about it. Again, I know today it’s going to be one of the highlights because we weren’t able to rebound.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.