CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox defense showed Tuesday that it hasn’t hit rock bottom just yet.
One of the worst defenses in baseball committed a season-high four errors in a 6-2 defeat to the Detroit Tigers.
“A lineup like that, you just can’t play like that and expect to be in the game,” said manager Robin Ventura said, who was ejected in the first inning and was spared from watching the carnage from the dugout. “You give them that many opportunities and you’re going to pay for it.”
Team captain Paul Konerko said he can’t remember playing on a team so defensively challenged. He was the designated hitter Tuesday night but answered for a group that has struggled with the gloves a year after leading the American League in fielding percentage.
“I don’t think anybody saw this coming this year with the way we played last year and we pretty much have the same pieces,” Konerko said. “The ball just got rolling down the hill the wrong way and we haven’t stopped it. If we knew the answer, if we knew how to stop it ... we’ve tried all different kinds of approaches.
“I know as a team it’s a shame because the staff works hard. We’re on top of things, we really are. Everybody addresses the things as they happen, we just haven’t been able to stop the bleeding when it comes to that stuff.”
Ventura was kicked out on what ended up being the first White Sox error of the game. The Tigers’ Torii Hunter appeared to be picked off first base and was caught in a rundown. Hunter appeared to give himself up when he bumped into Dunn, who didn’t have the ball.
Hunter was tagged out by Jeff Keppinger, but Dunn was called for obstruction, earning him an error. Gillaspie made a fielding error and Rios was tagged for his own error after misfiring a throw to the plate.
The final error on left fielder Viciedo was the most embarrassing. Viciedo tracked down a drive from the Tigers’ Hernan Perez in the left-center field gap. Perez was thinking triple the entire way, and when Viciedo couldn’t get a handle on the ball, bobbling it at least three times, he scored with ease.
“I don’t know if it’s psychological, but it’s definitely a contagious thing,” Konerko said. “We have some guys that are really good defenders that have even gotten swallowed up in it. Crazy things happen in this game. I’ve seen it not just with defensive stuff. Whether it’s bullpen stuff, offensive stuff, you have different years that give you different things.”
The four White Sox errors were the team’s most since recording the same amount April 6, 2011 at Kansas City. The White Sox are 1-13 this season when committing two or more errors.
The White Sox now have 68 errors and are closing in on the Los Angeles Angels, who began the day with the most errors in the American League at 73. The White Sox entered with a .982 fielding percentage, 13th in the 15-team AL.
White Sox starter Hector Santiago had the burden of pitching around the defensive miscues. The trouble on defense could have indirectly led to his five walks, which matched a season high.
“I think I put more pressure on myself to try to pick them up,” Santiago said. “After that error there in the fourth (by Gillaspie), I feel like I tried to make better pitches there than I needed to. Instead of just going with the team game plan I tried to actually pick them up and put more pressure on myself to make better pitches and just get out of it.”
Despite the defensive issues in a season that has long gotten away from the White Sox, Ventura says he isn’t making defense any less of a priority. Messages are being sent often, they just clearly aren’t being received.
“You come every day with the thought this is the day that we will start our stretch, won or lose we will be tight on defense; we will make the other team earn a win if they are going to get a win,” Konerko said. “For the most part we haven’t done that. When it comes to the staff, (coach) Joe (McEwing) deals with the defense a lot and I feel bad because as everybody else does. We’re working hard and on top of everything, it just hasn’t worked for some reason. We haven’t done the job as a team.”