CHICAGO – For better or worse, the White Sox have become accustomed to playing in close ballgames.
Unfortunately for the Sox, they have found themselves typically on the losing side. They were able to halt the trend for at least one day with a 3-2 win against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Eighteen of the Sox’s 20 games have been decided by three runs or less, going 6-11 in those games, which includes a 5-6 record in one-run games. Alex Rios’ two-run homer in the fifth gave the Sox a 3-0 lead and ultimately saved the Sox (8-12). The Indians (8-11) responded with two runs in the sixth and stranded the tying run on third.
“It’s not an easy thing to do when you play games this close all year, but you have to battle through these things,” Rios said. “It’s a long season and we’re going to go through stretches like this, hopefully not too many.”
Starting pitching again saved the Sox. Jose Quintana (2-0) held Cleveland to two runs in five innings and set a career high in consecutive scoreless innings pitched (18 2/3), which ended on Jason Kipnis’ RBI single in the sixth.
“All I’m trying to do is take it inning by inning, hitter by hitter,” Quintana said through a translator. “That’s about it, just doing the little things to control the game.”
Although the Sox found a way to win Wednesday, their brand of baseball – a reliance on home runs and an inability to string consecutive base hits – isn’t conducive to long-term success. They aren’t producing with runners in scoring position (1 for 8 against Cleveland), continuing a season-long problem. The Sox have scored two runs or fewer seven times this season and also have been held to five hits or less seven times, including Wednesday’s win (five hits).
“When it’s a group and you’re not getting it done consistently, it’s tough on everybody, it’s not just tough on me,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I’ve been on their side, too, and know what’s it like sitting there and I’ve been the problem. I get it. Eventually, it moves on and you just keep playing.”
The Sox can’t survive on solid starting pitching and an efficient bullpen the entire season if the offense doesn’t show up on a consistent basis. Each starting pitcher will have his fair share of rough outings and the bullpen will blow leads, however, none of that matters if the Sox can’t score. In 2012, every playoff team outscored their opponents by at least 56 runs. Currently, opponents have outscored the Sox by six runs.
The Sox are getting tired of talking about their no-show offense, and only 16,765 came to U.S. Cellular Field to watch them scratch together three runs. It’s shaping up to be a long summer on the South Side.
“I feel like that’s part of the game: Sometimes the offense will be there, sometimes it won’t,” Quintana said. “But the main thing for me is to do my job that way I can help the team.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at email@example.com. Read the Payoff Pitch blog at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.