CHICAGO -- On a night the Chicago White Sox lost 3-2, dropping their seventh consecutive game and setting a franchise record for offensive futility in the process, it was a play that didn’t factor in the scoring that stoked the ire of manager Robin Ventura.
Not long after the White Sox fell a season-high nine games under .500 at 28-37, while collecting four hits or less over four consecutive games for the first time in franchise history, it was a seemingly benign popup in the seventh inning off the bat of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Corey Hart that drew a cutting remark from Ventura.
“That’s just bad; I’m tired of talking about it,” Ventura said. “They know it. We work at it all of spring training -- you’ve probably seen it a few hundred times that we work on it. I’m getting tired of talking about it because that’s just bad.”
Why the terse reply? It could have something to do with Ventura constantly taking the blame for miscues that have been addressed yet continue to happen.
Jeff Samardzija pitched around the miscue, which went down as a hit for Hart. But even though it didn’t lead to a Pirates run, it was exactly the type of play that stands out when a team hasn’t found the win column in over a week.
The White Sox actually gave a hard-fought effort against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who still managed to go on to his major league-leading 11th victory of the season.
Asked about the play, Eaton’s first response was, “It didn’t hurt us.” Yet it was a play that happened right between the White Sox’s two Gold Glove finalists from last season, neither of whom are playing anywhere near the level of defense they showed last year.
“You guys ask the questions when it’s not going well, [but] like I said, it didn’t hurt,” Eaton said. “It was a tough play, but it was glaring because we’re not playing well. But if we would have won the game 5-2, it probably wouldn’t even have been a blip on your radar.
“Like I said, kind of a tough play but it’s probably somewhere where I need to take charge as a center fielder and call him off. But it’s a good thing it didn’t hurt us in the end.”
Asked who he would have liked to see take charge on the play, Ventura elected not to get specific.
“They need to catch it -- that’s what they need to do,” Ventura said.
It was particularly bad timing for Eaton, who made waves last weekend after a spirited closed-door discussion with bench coach Mark Parent over not starting in a game at Tampa Bay. Parent was the acting manager for the week, while Ventura was attending his daughter’s college graduation.
Samardzija was asked if the Eaton/Ramirez play is exactly the type of thing that needs to be cleaned up if the White Sox want to start winning again.
“Yeah, I think you look at the standings throughout the whole league, American League and National League, and other than a few outliers everybody is bunched up tight which means everybody is playing good ball and everybody is a good team that can win ballgames,” Samardzija said.
“You can’t let any mistakes happen out there if you want to win and you want to win a lot. You might scrape across one or two here or there, but you have to play a complete game offense, defense, pitching, and we need to do that.”
After getting outscored 20-4 in the four consecutive defeats to the Pirates this week and getting outhit 46-13, the task doesn’t get any easier with the Texas Rangers coming to U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game series beginning Friday. The Rangers are much improved of late and took a series form the White Sox in Texas earlier this month.
But the White Sox will have red-hot starter Chris Sale at their disposal and if he pitches anywhere near the level of his hard-luck loss at Tampa Bay last weekend, the White Sox will have a chance.
“Any time you’re losing there is going to be frustration,” Samardzija said. “I think we’re all playing hard and we’re going to keep doing that. That’s how you get out of these things. You keep pitching well and we have a darn good guy pitching [Friday].
“We’re going to jump on his back and we’ll get a few runs for him and we’ll go from there. Take it day by day, and you don’t let today leak over into tomorrow, for sure.”