White Sox slide back to square one

CHICAGO -- A game between two of the worst teams in baseball played out as expected Monday, with the Chicago White Sox regressing from their recent string of solid play to throw in a clunker against the Houston Astros.

From a distance, the White Sox’s 10-8 defeat to the Astros appeared to be a slugfest; up close, there were blemishes aplenty.

The White Sox resembled the team that stumbled out of the gate by getting bad baserunning, shaky relief help and questionable fielding.

“I’m not going to judge anybody by tonight,” manager Robin Ventura said.

White Sox starter Andre Rienzo had pitched well over his first month in the major leagues, but he was no match for the free-swinging Astros, who entered with a major league-worst 43-86 record. The lone right-hander in the current White Sox rotation gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over six innings with three walks and three home runs allowed.

But it’s not as if the Astros’ less-than-patient approach at the plate caught anybody off guard.

“That’s kind of the report we got: They were going to be aggressive with pitches in the zone, and we just fell behind,” Chicago catcher Josh Phegley said. “When a team’s that aggressive and you give them hitter's counts all the time, they’re going to be swinging the bat pretty well. Any team in the league is going to do that.”

An inability to execute the game plan was far from the only issue.

Alejandro De Aza and Avisail Garcia both made errors in the outfield on run-scoring plays, while both of Rienzo’s wild pitches led to runs. De Aza was also caught off third base on a comebacker to the pitcher.

Nate Jones pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but in an 8-8 tie, closer Addison Reed gave up back-to-back home runs to Matt Dominguez and Chris Carter. It was the second home run of the game for Carter.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Ventura said. “I would say Jones probably had the best inning out of anybody. You know, it’s just one of those where guys were swinging the bats, guys weren’t pitching very well and a lot of runs were scored.”

Like most of the team, Reed had found his groove of late, but a non-save situation once again spelled doom.

“Any time I go out there, I'm trying to go 1-2-3; it just didn't work out,” Reed said. “I felt awesome out there. I felt great. I felt I had everything working and made a couple bad pitches. I hung a slider to Dominguez, and he made me pay for it. It was nothing with fatigue or anything like that. I felt great. I just made a couple bad pitches.”

Reed recorded saves in seven of the White Sox’s past eight victories going back to Aug. 16, a stretch that included saves in six consecutive games on the most recent road trip. No White Sox pitcher had ever recorded a save in six consecutive games.

The White Sox had won four consecutive series, getting the best of first-place teams like the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. But the lowly Astros had their number Monday.

“That's kind of the story of our year,” Reed said. “We look good one series and then do something like this. They did everything they could to get me in the game and, like I said before, it was on me. I could have avoided it, but I made a couple bad pitches.”