The loneliest place for the White Sox in a hostile environment Friday night was on the base paths.
Left stranded were 12 runners, and without the aid of an extra-base hit or any type of clutch hit, the Sox put themselves on the verge of elimination with a 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Only four of 32 teams who have fallen behind 0-2 in division play have rallied to win the series, which resumes Sunday. The Sox will have the comfort of playing at U.S. Cellular Field — only if they can regain the timely hitting that has deserted them in the first two games of this best-of-five series.
"It seems like we've been in this situation all year, up and down," center fielder Brian Anderson said. "We kind of put ourselves in a corner but we seem to play well at home. Everyone is excited to go there and take it from there."
The Sox won three straight games at the Cell to reach the postseason.
"That doesn't matter," A.J. Pierzynski said. "This is a different situation, a different team, a different everything. We know we have to win three games, we know what we have to do.
"Bottom line is we have to go out and have John Danks throw [Sunday] like he did [Tuesday night against the Twins] and go from there."
Sox hitters wasted several opportunities to provide support for Mark Buehrle, who was tagged for a two-run home run by Akinori Iwamura in the fifth that gave the Rays a 3-2 lead that they stretched to 6-2 in the eighth.
The Sox scored both their runs in the first inning and let wild left-hander Scott Kazmir escape repeatedly before the Rays' bullpen combined for 32/3 scoreless innings.
All of the Sox's 12 hits were singles, but they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position after the first inning when they loaded the bases with no outs but managed only two runs.
"We had [Kazmir] on the ropes," Pierzynski said. "If we could have gotten the clutch hit, we could have had five or six [runs], but we fell short. It seemed like we had [runners on] first and second every inning. We had a lot of chances.
"Now we'll try and get them on Sunday, get this thing back to Tampa Bay because I want to come back to Florida."
The difference in the two teams' offensive styles was glaring, from the Sox being relegated to station-to-station baseball without any speed or power to the Rays' speed helping them generate three insurance runs in the eighth. Speed also helped right fielder Francisco Perez make an exceptional catch of Orlando Cabrera's foul pop in the second.
The Sox are 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position in their two losses. As their failures continued, their frustration with home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor's strike zone grew.
The Sox realized they blew numerous opportunities, but Buehrle praised the Rays.
"They weren't the best team in the American League for nothing," he said. "They have good pitching. [Tampa Bay] kind of reminds me in '05 with us."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun