When a team loses nearly three-quarters of its games, the defeats tend to blend together.
But not this one. This 6-5 loss to the Pirates was a kick to the groin.
The White Sox played eight strong innings Wednesday, getting premium starting pitching and setup work. They hit homers and played nearly perfect defense. Manager Rick Renteria pulled starter Reynaldo Lopez at the perfect time.
“Couldn’t have scripted it any better, to be honest,” Renteria said.
And yet it all added up to another loss.
The Sox are 9-25, losers of five straight and nine of their last 10. They fell to 3-15 at home, their worst start in franchise history.
No one expected the Sox to contend for anything this season, but to be one of just two big-league teams not to crack 10 victories? Ouch.
The Sox took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, trusting closer Nate Jones to finish the job.
“Our best guy,” Renteria said.
But Jones gave up two quick singles and a double that tucked inside the right-field line before he hung a 1-0 slider to third baseman Colin Moran. Moran hammered the ball 416 feet to right-center, causing the Sox’s Jenga blocks to come crashing down.
Jones, perhaps the nicest guy in the clubhouse, felt awful.
“Just didn’t execute right there,” he said, “and I paid for it. When you can’t do your job, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Lopez certainly did his job. He has pitched well enough to earn a “W” in all seven starts this season but drew another blank Wednesday. He’s 0-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
Renteria took the baseball from him after 100 pitches and a career-high 7 1/3 innings. Lopez got congratulatory pats from teammates on the mound, and the fans at Guaranteed Rate Field applauded his effort. He reciprocated by removing his hat and tapping it with his glove.
“In my mind, I was thinking nine (innings),” Lopez said. “I was honestly feeling I could pitch nine. But that’s the decision and I'm good with it.”
Lopez gave up just three hits (two solo homers) while walking two and striking out six. Renteria replaced him in the eighth with left-hander Jace Fry, who struck out the only two batters he faced.
Couldn’t have scripted it any better.
But then the top of the ninth happened, and the Sox went down quietly in their half of the inning.
Rookie right-fielder Daniel Palka was their star at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a homer and two singles. He was walked intentionally in the eighth so right-hander Richard Rodriguez could face Matt Davidson. Palka even stole a base off lefty Steven Brault, the first swipe of his career.
Combined with Tim Anderson’s two-run homer that should have been enough for the victory. It was not.
“We understand we’re in the middle of something, and there are going to be struggles,” Anderson said of the rebuild. “We’re not going to scratch out a lot of wins, (but) you can’t get too high or too low.
“We’re here for a long ride and it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to pay off as we keep believing in each other and keep picking each other up. It’s going to get better.”