ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Chicago White Sox received another quality performance from a starter, but once again, it was all for naught as the team suffered its seventh series sweep of the season. A day after Chris Sale took the loss despite allowing just three runs (two earned), John Danks met the same fate, surrendering three earned runs in a 3-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Before the game, White Sox manager Robin Ventura spoke in length about making changes to the lineup to generate some offensive punch. All they could muster against Rays starter David Price was a solo home run -- the first career round-tripper by rookie catcher Josh Phegley.
"We had our shots and you need to capitalize on them, especially when you're facing a pitcher like Price," Ventura said. "John pitched well. He kept us in the game. We just couldn't do enough for him."
The White Sox have lost nine of their last 11 games and 27 of their past 37. They have suffered defeats in 19 of their past 23 road contests. They haven’t scored more than five runs in eight straight games.
And things will only get tougher this week. After playing a makeup game at home on Monday, they will travel to Detroit for a three-game series and play three more in Philadelphia before the All-Star break.
The White Sox have three things to build off of from this series, though.
For one, the pitching staff has done an admirable job, especially Sale and Danks. Sale was selected to represent the White Sox in the All-Star Game due to ranking in the top 10 of nearly every AL category. Danks came up with his third straight quality start and has tossed at least seven innings in each outing.
"I feel good and very confident in my stuff," said Danks, who struck out five and walked two in his 100-pitch outing Sunday. "Obviously, the couple (of starts) going into today were good, and I was riding a pretty good high. I feel good about getting us deep in the game and keeping us in the ballgame, but I simply got outpitched by (Price). I felt good, really, about everything other than the command. Obviously, it's tough to lose, tough to get swept. I was hoping to come out here and be the stopper I talk about trying to be."
Another thing the White Sox can look forward to is seeing how Phegley continues to master the major league game. He collected his first big league hit on Friday and belted a cut fastball from Price into the left-field seats Sunday, an at-bat after he had almost hit a homer. In addition, he has shown maturity and composure in media interviews.
"To get a couple hits and the first home run out of the way kinda takes a little weight off the shoulders, but you'd like a better result team-wise," Phegley said. "I thought John threw a great game and just a couple pitches away from being in that game. He was commanding everything pretty well and throwing a lot of strikes. I definitely feel more comfortable (behind the plate) today than the first game, so that helped a little bit."
The biggest eye-opener about Phegley is the way he adjusted against the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner.
After flying out deep to left in his second at-bat against Price, Phegley hit a high fly to left that landed a few rows back in the seats. In his final at-bat, Price forced Phegley into a pop-up to right field.
"That last at-bat was the only time I saw a lot of fastballs from him," Phegley said. "I saw it pretty well out of his hand and just bit on that changeup up and in that first at-bat. I just needed more patience, see something down where I can hit it. The fly ball was just another changeup, just a little more down where I could handle it, and just came short of the wall. The home run was a cutter in. It was just low enough where I could get to it and didn’t get in there enough, but I put a good ride on it.”
Finally, Gordon Beckham went 2-for-4 on Sunday and is batting .500 (11-for-22) with a homer and three RBIs over his last six games, with five multi-hit games. He is batting .417 (20-for-48) in his last 13 games since June 23, raising his batting average from .298 to .341.