Dallas Keuchel has been part of a World Series championship in Houston, and he seemingly believes he could be part of one again with the White Sox.
But the veteran left-hander's pointed words following the team’s 5-1 setback against the Tigers on Monday at Comerica Park, marking its fifth loss in six games, indicate there’s a great deal of ground still to cover if the White Sox have hopes of getting close to that point during the 2020 season.
"I would have liked to see the team play better tonight, especially after a kind of defeating loss last night with [Lucas] Giolito and [Shane] Bieber going at it,” Keuchel said in his controlled but direct commentary after he slipped to 2-2, the team fell to 8-9 and dipped one game out of last place in the American League Central. “We just came out flat and I feel like we just stayed flat the whole game.
“We've got a lot of guys. Let me take that back -- we've got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound and doing what it takes to win, and we've got some guys going through the motions. So we need to clean a lot of things up. If we want to be in this thing at the end of the season, we're going to have to start that now.
“When you have enough talent to potentially win every game, it's very frustrating when you have games like this,” Keuchel added. “It just seems like we were out of it from the get-go."
Keuchel allowed three runs over 92 pitches and six-plus innings, striking out four and recording nine ground-ball outs. He gave way to reliever Codi Heuer with Detroit holding a 3-1 lead, and that advantage grew by two when JaCoby Jones hit an inside-the-park home run to center where Adam Engel, who is a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player, missed with a running attempt on the line drive.
But the core issue goes back to offensive struggles with the White Sox, which goes hand and hand with a plethora of injuries preventing a consistent lineup from being put together. The lineup already is missing shortstop Tim Anderson (right groin strain), designated hitter Edwin Encarnación (left shoulder soreness) and second baseman Nick Madrigal (left shoulder separation). On Monday, Leury García, who reached on an infield single thanks to a headfirst slide in the seventh, left with left thumb soreness, and first baseman José Abreu was replaced in the bottom of the eighth after experiencing right hip soreness on a groundout in the top half. Both will be reevaluated Tuesday, and X-rays were negative on García.
In these past six games, the White Sox have scored 11 runs, compared to the 36 pushed across during their six-game winning streak. White Sox manager Rick Renteria won’t panic and can’t panic, even in a 60-game season. But he knows this team needs to be better.
“There is no magic bullet. No secret,” Renteria said. “The conversation we had was to keep guys more centered on the strike zone. I can’t even consider thinking that there is anything wrong with the talent that we have. We’re not executing. We’re not getting it done.”
Renteria also talked about how stringing a few wins together will make everyone happy again. He added the White Sox have a clubhouse full of players who will hold each other accountable, with Keuchel starting that process postgame Monday.
“It just seemed like we were taking a night off,” Keuchel said. “We can't afford that with a young core that we have here. We've got to show up every day and even if there's no fans, we've got to make sure that we're ready to go.
“If we're not ready to go, we've got to fake it until we make it. It just seemed like today was one of the first games that I've seen very subpar play from everybody. To kind of be hovering here is in a great spot, and that's why I'm so frustrated tonight is we have a great opportunity these next couple games to really get some wins and keep moving the wagon forward.
“As frustrating as it is tonight, we could very well come out tomorrow and play like we're supposed to and then win the series on Wednesday,” Keuchel added. “So it's something that happens on a young team, but we're going to have to keep pushing forward."