August 15, 2022

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With tools for success, what's stopping White Sox?

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CHICAGO — It’s only 16 games. The weather conditions have been brutal. There have been a plethora of injuries to key players. This team is too darn talented to be this far off the mark.

All of these are plausible and valid reasons to explain strong hope despite a 6-10 start to the season for the White Sox, who dropped their eighth straight on Tuesday in a 6-0 setback to the Royals. But there’s another point needing to be made, as reinforced by this opener of a seven-game homestand at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox are not playing good baseball. This seventh straight loss within the American League Central is what they hope serves as the latest low point.

“I don’t question the talent, don’t question the caring,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “We just have to execute better. Not get frustrated and get away from the ABCs of what we have to do. And keep pulling together, as corny as it sounds. Win together, lose together, never give in, never give up. All that stuff is, that’s how you get through six months.”

“We win and lose as a team,” said White Sox third baseman Jake Burger, who had the squad’s lone multihit effort. “All we can do is show up again tomorrow and get going. So that’s the name of the game. There’s a reason why there’s 162 of them.”

White Sox pitchers combined to walk a season-high 11 against just three strikeouts, including five in four-plus innings for starter Dallas Keuchel. The wind was blowing out of the northwest at 12 mph for first pitch, meaning it was blowing in fairly strongly, so failing to hit the strike zone was especially costly on this night.

Keuchel threw just 42 of his 88 pitches for strikes, and he fell to 0-4 with a 5.21 ERA over his last four starts against Kansas City. The veteran admitted what wasn’t clicking on this night for the South Siders started with him.

“I’d like to have a little bit better efficiency. I was feeling pretty good. I mean, outside of a few pitches that were not competitive, but a lot of it starts with the starting pitching,” Keuchel said. “We faced some timely pitching against us and Lynch did a good job today of throwing the four-seam, two-seam and slider, and especially in the conditions that we were in.

“That’s why I’m a little bit more frustrated than I should be, is the fact that I should have been doing the same thing. We get a five-day rotation now instead of a six- or seven-day, should be hopefully a little bit better.”

The White Sox committed two errors, including a dropped throw by the usually sure-handed first baseman José Abreu leading to two unearned runs scored off Keuchel in the fourth. Tim Anderson was charged with the second fielding miscue, marking his seventh in the last six games after making 10 over 122 games in 2021.

There have been 15 errors in the last nine games for the White Sox, with at least one being committed in every contest. It’s the longest such streak since a 10-game error streak from June 24 to July 3, 2017.

Offensive struggles also continued, as the White Sox have scored 31 runs in their last 13 games. They have scored three runs or less 11 times following Tuesday’s five-hit output, and are hitting .171 (12-for-70) with runners in scoring position over their last 13 and .194 (37-for-191) with runners on base this season.

“There’s no avoiding the frustration and disappointment,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn before Tuesday’s setback. “But one of the beautiful things about this sport is the length of the season really forces the cream to rise to the top over the course of the six-month season, and there’s still an ample opportunity to prove we’re capable of being that again.”

“We’re too good of a team to really feel bad about ourselves or get down,” Keuchel said. “So we’ll have to pick it back up and eventually we will. Just a matter of will it be tomorrow or hopefully the next day.”

La Russa sees the effort and caring manifesting itself at times in pressing and frustration, which is a good sign, in his opinion.

“Let me tell you something: If you have talent like this and you have to get after guys to get started, they’re walking around smiling and not working, then you have the wrong people,” La Russa said. “We have the right people. We’ll be all right. The sooner, the better, though. We’re not having any fun.”

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