Bullpen, defense stumble yet again

It is getting so bad for the Chicago White Sox now that even one of their most dependable performers has joined the struggles that are sweeping through the clubhouse like a virus.

With a victory well within their grasp, the White Sox managed to lose yet another one to the Kansas City Royals when closer Addison Reed followed two walks with a two-out, two-run, game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

That is the same Reed who had converted 17 consecutive save chances going back to last season and 10 of his first 10 chances to start this season.

Reed’s blown save sent it into extra innings where another White Sox reliever added the finishing touches. Brian Omogrosso, in just his second appearance this season, gave up a bases-loaded hit to Alex Gordon, leaving the White Sox scratching their heads after another defeat in Kansas City.

The White Sox are not only 15-26 against the Royals going back to 2011, they are just 6-14 at Kauffman Stadium in that time.

The tide has turned for the Sox against the Royals in recent seasons about as unexpectedly as the struggles from a bullpen that was supposed to be one of the best in the American League this season. Reed was merely the latest White Sox reliever to stumble, as the bullpen had posted a 4.93 ERA and a 1-5 record in their previous 15 games before Sunday.

Adding in Sunday’s numbers, the White Sox have given up 52 hits and 29 walks over their last 46⅔ innings.

The bullpen wasn’t alone Sunday in failing to impress. The defense not only had its issues in the game, it is also another part of the White Sox’s game this season that has unexpectedly been a liability.

Second baseman Jeff Keppinger misplayed a fifth-inning ground ball that would have led to an inning-inning double play. Not only did the Royals score on Keppinger’s miscue, but they used the extended inning to tack on another run and take a 3-2 lead that the White Sox later erased with a four-run seventh inning.

Later in that seventh inning, the White Sox had another defensive blunder when Keppinger, Alexei Ramirez and Dewayne Wise converged on a popup in shallow center field. Any of the three could have caught the ball, but nobody took charge of the play and the ball fell in for a hit.

In the 10th inning, right fielder Alex Rios appeared to get a bad read on Gordon's game-winning hit as the ball fell just beyond his outstretched glove. Had Rios been able to make the catch, the game would have moved on to the 11th inning.

Last season, the White Sox had an American League-best .9883 fielding percentage that was also the best in franchise history. Just a season later, and with many of the same players, the White Sox entered play Sunday with an AL-worst .980 fielding percentage. They now have 21 errors in 29 games.