Sox need better focus down the stretch

Alex Rios started, stopped and then ran home to get tagged out at the plate. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When a team struggles to score runs, it is always the little things that stand out. The White Sox lost two potential runs on the bases during Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Alex Rios was thrown out at the plate in the third inning as he misread a ball that eluded catcher Salvador Perez and was tagged out by pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Rios started to run home, stopped, and then finally decided to make his ill-fated attempt to score.

“In that situation, you have to know there is (only) one out," Rios said. "With a fly ball or anything I could have scored. It was one of those where you hesitate, you don’t get a good read, and bad stuff happens."

The poor baserunning continued in the fourth as Alexei Ramirez was picked off third base by Perez with one out and runners on first and third.

"Little things like that we just have to make sure we stop doing," manager Robin Ventura said. "We have had opportunities. I don’t know if there is quicksand over at third base, but we seem to lose a few guys over there."

The first-place White Sox were doing the little things well until recently. Over the past week they have been trying to do too much, especially on the bases. Dewayne Wise tried to advance to third on Monday and was thrown out before Gordon Beckham scored, thus ending the inning against the Detroit Tigers. The pressure of the pennant race can cause usually rational players to press and force the issue.

Ventura and his players are happy to be finished playing the Royals, who won the season series 12-6.

"We keep shooting ourselves in the foot," Ventura said. "When you have opportunities and you don’t take advantage of them, eventually a team like this will come back and get you."

The Sox's magic number is down to 12 with 13 games left in the season.