MINNEAPOLIS — For the past five games, the White Sox have not looked like the defending American League Central champions, let alone a team considered as a prime World Series contender heading into the ’22 campaign.
The good news is that a 2-1 loss to the Twins on Friday night at Target Field, which dropped the White Sox to 6-7 overall, is just the 13th of a 162 game season. And there’s certainly no unnecessary panic among this confident group.
“You play 162 and every team in the big leagues has gone through this stretch,” said reliever Kendall Graveman, who suffered the loss in the series opener. “And we’ll also go through a stretch [that] I truly believe we’ll pile on a bunch of wins in a row. We have confidence in our guys.”
“No one is concerned about this skid that we’re on right now. It sucks. Nobody likes to lose,” starter Michael Kopech said. “At the end of the day, we can look around this clubhouse and see what this team is made of and what we’re capable of in the upcoming games, no matter who we’re playing. I think we’re going to get our feet back under us.”
Kopech had his most dominant start in three trips to the mound this season, striking out seven and allowing three hits over five scoreless innings. Andrew Vaughn launched a 424-foot home run in the fifth, that at one point looked like it would be the lone run scored of the night.
Unfortunately, good news for the White Sox mostly ended there.
Graveman retired the first two hitters he faced in the eighth inning, before allowing an 0-2 double to nine-hole hitter Ryan Jeffers. Luis Arraez walked, with Jeffers moving to third on a wild pitch in the plate appearance, setting the stage for Carlos Correa.
His ground ball in the hole between shortstop and third was fielded by Tim Anderson, who tried to make a cross-body throw to first baseman José Abreu to end the inning. Instead, the ball sailed and got by Abreu to let the tying run score.
Abreu quickly retrieved the baseball and threw home to try and keep Arraez at third. But Abreu’s throw eluded catcher Reese McGuire, for the play’s second error, and Graveman had no play when he retrieved the ball.
“I was really just trying to get a good grip on it,” said Anderson, who has made six errors in his past three games. “Just try to get it over there. Wet conditions, but no excuse. For the most part, [I was] trying to get a good grip to be able to make a good throw. But that didn’t happen.”
Eloy Jiménez doubled off Emilio Pagán to open the ninth, and the White Sox eventually loaded the bases with one out. McGuire battled through a nine pitch at-bat before popping out to Correa, while Jake Burger took a close pitch for a called third strike in a full count situation to end the game.
Manager Tony La Russa’s offense has scored 16 runs over its past eight games, with his team going 2-6 during that stretch. Nothing looks great right now, aside from the pitching, but there’s plenty of time to get things right.
“Nobody is hitting the panic button,” Graveman said. “We’ll trend in the right direction as the season goes on and be playing our best ball later in the season.”
“Very close to being the kind of win that gets you excited,” La Russa said. “A lot of good things, but it turns out to be a very tough loss. Never give in and never give up. It’s pretty simple.”