Sports

/

ArcaMax

White Sox lose another game -- and series. 4 takeaways after dropping 2 of 3 to the Astros.

LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO — It has been more than a month since the Chicago White Sox won a series.

That dry stretch continued Thursday after a sloppy seventh inning contributed to a 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros in front of 14,435 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Sox entered the seventh leading 3-1 after six solid innings from starter Chris Flexen. RBI singles from Jose Altuve (against reliever Steven Wilson) and Yordan Alvarez (against Tanner Banks) tied the score. The Astros went ahead, scoring on third baseman Lenyn Sosa’s throwing error, and added another run when Jeremy Peña drew a bases-loaded walk against Justin Anderson.

“We let one slip away today,” manager Pedro Grifol said.

The Sox, who lost two of three to the Astros, haven’t won a series since taking two of three against the Washington Nationals on May 14 (doubleheader) and 15 at home. They are 0-9-1 in their last 10 series and have won just four all season.

Here are four more takeaways from the three games at Guaranteed Rate Field.

1. Starter Chris Flexen showed the ability to bounce back.

After surrendering six runs (four earned) on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings on Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Flexen said, “That’s one I’ll try to flush.”

He rebounded Thursday, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks in six innings against the Astros.

“It’s been a struggle here and there for the most part,” Flexen said of his 2024. “Was able to turn in a good one today, especially after the last one. Definitely a step forward.”

Flexen has allowed three runs or less in seven of his last 10 starts, going 1-3 with a 4.99 ERA in that span. The run he allowed Thursday came on a first-inning homer from Alvarez.

The Astros had two runners on in the third, fourth and fifth innings but failed to score.

“Flexen has had a couple hiccups here and there but for the most part has kept us in ballgames,” Grifol said. “Gave us a chance to win today, just couldn’t pull it out.”

2. Garrett Crochet is navigating through trade speculation.

Crochet is learning how to make his way through a season as a first-time major league starter. He’s also finding out how to navigate through trade speculation.

The left-hander, who is having an All-Star-caliber season, has been one of many Sox players mentioned in trade rumors.

Asked how conversations with general manager Chris Getz have gone in terms of updates on that matter, Crochet said Wednesday, “I haven’t had any conversations about it, to be honest.”

Crochet continues to show why he has come up in trade rumors. He struck out eight and walked one in six innings in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss.

 

Crochet allowed three runs on a season-high nine hits but still made his 10th quality start (sixth in a row). He has a 1.50 ERA in nine starts since May 1.

“You look at (Wednesday), after pitch 85, he’s still 96-97 (mph), his cutter’s still 92-94,” Grifol said Thursday morning. “Not only does he have the stuff, he maintains it throughout the game. What’s been spectacular to me is to be a No. 1, you have to understand how to be a starter and you have to understand what you’re supposed to be doing, which is you take the ball in the first inning and you’re supposed to be standing there in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning.

“To do that, you have to economize pitches, you have to minimize damage, and he understands that, at a high level. And he’s picked it up really quick.”

3. ‘Easy’ decision made to have Jonathan Cannon attempt a complete game.

Grifol saw it as an “easy” decision to have Cannon return for the ninth inning Tuesday.

“Why?” Grifol said Wednesday. “Because you have to capture those developmental moments.”

Cannon came within one out of a complete-game shutout in the 2-0 victory. He retired the first two batters in the ninth before surrendering back-to-back singles and exiting the game.

Cannon allowed seven hits and struck out four in 8 2/3 innings, delivering the longest outing by a Sox rookie since Zach Stewart threw a shutout on Sept. 5, 2011, at Minnesota.

He was at 93 pitches after eight and finished at 106. Grifol said a manager has to keep in mind if it’s irresponsible and reckless.

“And it wasn’t,” Grifol said. “Nineteen pitches in the first inning, averaged 10 or 12 pitches the rest of the game, had a clean eighth inning, felt strong, looked strong, wanted to be out there, had never done it before. (The Astros) won a championship a couple years ago, a (chance at a) nine-inning shutout.

“The decision is really easy. It might look like it’s a little difficult, but it’s really easy.”

4. Luis Robert Jr. ‘trying to get to that rhythm.’

The center fielder followed up a two-hit performance Wednesday with an RBI double Thursday. He is 10 for 53 (.189) with five home runs and seven RBIs since returning from the injured list on June 4.

“There have been games, at-bats, where I’ve been feeling good even though the results haven’t been there,” Robert said Thursday through an interpreter. “There have been other games or at-bats where I didn’t feel that good. I’ve been there competing, I’ve been working hard. Trying to get to that rhythm.”

The Sox as a whole are trying to do likewise. They’ve lost 26 of their last 32, and at 20-56 are off to their worst 76-game start in franchise history (previously 25-51 in 1934 and 2018).

“It is always difficult no matter how you lose a game,” Robert said. “But I also know that all of us are trying to do our best. We haven’t been able to find that consistency.”


©2024 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus