Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Bats have cooled, but Sox finding a way
By Doug Padilla
Alexei Ramirez singled and stole second in the 12th, then scored on Marcus Semien's double.
CHICAGO -- It is actually quite simple to connect the dots when it comes to the Chicago White Sox's recent downward trend on offense.
A team that was setting the American League ablaze with its daily carousel around the bases has been curbed considerably, ever since Adam Eaton began suffering with hamstring issues.
Eaton finally went on the disabled list after Friday’s game at Cleveland, and an offense that was delivering an average of just over five runs a game has managed just seven total since. But the White Sox have managed to win two of those contests -- the latest a 3-1 victory in 12 innings against the Chicago Cubs on Monday -- thanks in large part to a revived bullpen.
So it goes for a rebuilding ballclub that when one area of success goes away, another emerges. The White Sox are trying to get to the point where all parts of their game are firing at once.
The loss of Eaton isn’t the only thing that has the White Sox offense scrambling. Conor Gillaspie, who had gotten off to a solid start, also has been out of action with a bruised hand. Avisail Garcia, who was expected to be a major run-producer, was lost for the season after a shoulder injury in the second week of April.
Where Eaton and Marcus Semien were at the top of the order when the season began, Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham have been in the leadoff spot and No. 2 hole, respectively. Since that change, the offense looks more like the 2013 White Sox than the one that had an entirely new energy about it this season.
“We’re different right now,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We’re banged up and you’re just scraping, trying to find a run any way you can. Sunday [Dayan Viciedo] came through and we hung in there enough [Monday] that [Semien] came through. Until you get everybody back and you get that vibe that you had early, you have to scratch and claw and find a way to do it.”
The White Sox could barely scratch and claw against the Cubs on Monday, but did enough. White Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up just one run on one hit over seven innings, while five relievers held the Cubs scoreless over the final five.
The White Sox scored an unearned run in the first inning after an error led to Jose Abreu's sacrifice fly. They scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning on a Semien double. De Aza plated the final run with a bases-loaded walk.
“We fought back in a couple games,” Semien said. “It was just putting together good at-bats in the clutch has helped us grind through some wins here. You know you want to get out ahead early and score a little bit more runs, but right now however we can get them, we’ll get them.”
Alexei Ramirez has been one of the hottest White Sox hitters this season, but an approaching milestone seemed to have him distracted in recent days. Ramirez was in an 0-for-13 slide before he singled in the 12th inning, the 1,000th hit of his career.
Ramirez, who started the season on a 17-game hitting streak, was coming off his first back-to-back games without a hit this year. He delivered when it counted, though, eventually scoring the go-ahead run on Semien's hit.
“The most important thing is that we got the win,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “It was a valuable hit and everything, but the guy that really came through was Marcus Semien today.”
With the milestone out of the way, Ramirez sounded ready to continue the success that has him heading into Tuesday’s game with a .328 batting average and a .489 slugging percentage.
“I have to continue working,” Ramirez said. “I have to continue with my routine. This weather is not easy to hit with, but so we just got to keep working and I’m going to try to continue with my routine and that’s what will allow me to be consistent.”