Good news! The White Sox actually came up with multiple hits with runners in scoring position.
Bad news! They still had an awful day in the clutch department.
Trailing by one in the ninth, the White Sox had runners on second and third with nobody out against Alex Colome. Three harmless bouncers later — Yolmer Sanchez to the mound, Tim Anderson to a three-infielder left side and Leury Garcia to first — the Rays ended their eight-game losing streak while extending the White Sox’ skid to four games.
The impotence in the ninth inning brought their tally with runners in scoring position to 2-for-16 on the day, resulting in 12 runners left on base. Avisail Garcia had the roughest day of them all, going 0-for-5 with seven stranded, but it was a team effort.
A quick inventory:
First inning: After Chris Archer loads the bases with a walk, HBP and walk, Sanchez delivers a sac fly, but Anderson strikes out.
Third inning: Yoan Moncada doubles to lead off the second, but Avisail Garcia grounds out on the first pitch, after which Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico strike out.
Fourth inning: Anderson and Leury Garcia single with one out, but Tyler Saladino flies out and Omar Narvaez goes down swinging.
Eighth inning: Leury Garcia singled and Saladino bunts him over (an OK call considering Saladino’s struggles). Narvaez draws a walk against Sergio Romo, foreshadowing potential struggles against Moncada, who came to the plate 2-for-2 with two walks. But Moncada swings over slow sliders for a strikeout, and so does Avi Garcia for his third inning-ending out of the day.
Ninth inning: See above.
The last two innings were crushers because the Rays bullpen has been struggling, and the White Sox came through during the gap in the inventory. In the fifth, Nicky Delmonico made it a 4-3 game when he hammered an 0-2 hanging Archer slider over the right-field wall for a two-run shot.
An inning later, Narvaez spanked a low-and-outside fastball over Denard Span’s head in left to drive in Leury Garcia, once again whittling the lead to one. Those were the kinds of hits the White Sox had been missing, and those were the hits the White Sox continued to miss only innings later.
There isn’t any consolation with such a performance, but the Rays would’ve been muttering similar things to themselves. They could’ve scored more than five runs, considering the offense generated 14 hits and three walks and went a more respectable 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Miguel Gonzalez threw 93 pitches and only got two swinging strikes, with the contact growing louder as the game advanced.
The White Sox defense limited the damage by cutting down three runners at the plate. Speedy Mallex Smith was twice a victim, mitigating the impact of his 4-for-4 day at the plate. Anderson threw him out at home on a contact play in the fourth inning, and Abreu foiled his attempt to steal home on Luis Avilan’s pickoff throw to first. He was convinced that his slide beat Narvaez’s swipe tag, but the out call was upheld.
In between, Leury Garcia gunned down Matt Duffy from center field to deprive Wilson Ramos of an RBI single in the eighth.
Gonzalez allowed four runs over his 4⅓ innings, which actually lowered his ERA to 8.68, but dropped his record to 0-2. Aaron Bummer also continued to have problems, allowing two singles to lefties and the decisive fifth run.
*Delmonico committed his first error of the season by overcharging a rolling single, allowing the trailing runner to take second. It didn’t result in a run.
*The game was delayed by 21 minutes because the White Sox grounds crew had to remove a ton of snow. With the Rays not coming back to town this year, they managed to get the game in, while the Cubs’ home opener was postponed.
Record: 3-6 | Box score