ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- On the one hand, the 8-3 loss by the Chicago White Sox to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday saw two prospects look impressive in their major league debuts. On the other, Sox starter Dylan Axelrod did little to prevent Chicago from losing for the seventh time in nine games.
Josh Phegley started at catcher and went 1-for-3 in his first big league game, while Simon Castro tossed three scoreless innings in relief.
"There's a silver lining to it because you get those guys in there and they do well, but it's just one of those you get beat up today," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Axelrod allowed five runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his career. The right-hander fell to 1-4 with a 5.32 ERA on the road this season.
"He was just in the middle, everything was elevated," Ventura said. "Nothing was down in the zone. When he's good, he's got people swinging and missing with the ball falling in the dirt."
Axelrod escaped the first inning unscathed after allowing two singles, but he was rocked in the second. He surrendered back-to-back homers in the frame -- a two-run homer to Jose Molina and a solo shot to Kelly Johnson -- then a run-scoring single to Evan Longoria later in the inning before being lifted following an RBI-double by Wil Myers.
"They're hot right now and when you leave balls up like I did to some of those guys, you pay for it," said Axelrod, who tossed 54 pitches, 36 for strikes. "I didn't feel like I was making horrible pitches, but obviously they weren't good enough."
The Rays have scored 28 total runs over their last 12 games.
It wasn't the type of performance the White Sox needed, especially considering the trade rumors surrounding the team.
As Ventura mentioned, though, the bright spot occurred with the team's two prospects.
Phegley's single up the middle against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson came after the 25-year-old catcher struck out swinging in his first at-bat. The Rays right-hander allowed one run on six hits over seven innings, improving to 6-1 with a 3.16 ERA over his last seven starts.
"He got me on the first at-bat with one of his change-ups, but I kind of timed up the fastball the next time I saw him," Phegley said. "He was upset about it, too, because I heard him say some stuff about it."
"I was a bit nervous, of course," said Castro, who struck out four and walked two over his 51-pitch appearance. "Once I got the nerves out, I felt good. I made all my pitches.”