White Sox blow lead in 10th, drop ninth in a row
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter September 7, 2013 8:14PM
Updated: October 10, 2013 6:25AM
BALTIMORE — Conor Gillaspie performed a good deed by spending time with wounded soldiers Friday. With his team suffering through a brutal season and an 0-8 road trip, the rookie third baseman probably thought he had performed a good deed of a different sort Saturday by breaking a tie in the 10th inning with a pinch-hit homer against Tommy Hunter.
But, oh, well. It was the effort that counted.
Within minutes of Gillaspie’s homer, the Sox were showering up after their ninth loss in a row, a 4-3 stunner decided by Matt Wieters’ single that knocked in the tying and winning runs against closer Addison Reed in the bottom of the inning.
There was a sharp single by Danny Valencia after one out and the highest bloop single you’ll see by Nick Markakis that landed behind third baseman Gillaspie and in front of left fielder Alejandro De Aza. In losing streaks this long, there are always bad breaks to go with bad baseball, and the Sox — who made their 101st, 102nd and 103rd errors of the season — had both.
“It’s over now. I’m going to go watch college football,’’ Gillaspie said. “That’s going to be my night. It is what it is. It’s very frustrating and very hard.’’
It’s not that Gillaspie, a serious nose-to-the-grindstone rookie, didn’t take the loss hard. He had been profoundly affected by a visit that he and four teammates made to Walter Reed Hospital in nearby Bethesda, Md., the day before. He couldn’t get over how amputees seemed unfazed by their circumstances.
“Like I’ve said a million times, there are a lot worse things that can happen in our life than this,’’ he said in a quiet visitors clubhouse at Camden Yards. “If you’re so down that you can’t function in this game, then you probably shouldn’t be playing. It’s frustrating a lot of days here, but you have to fight through it. That’s how the world is, and that’s how baseball is. You have to fight and fight and fight.’’
The Sox (56-85), who on Sunday could match their 10-game losing streak from July 26 to Aug. 4, might find themselves fighting to avoid losing 100 games before the season ends 21 games from now. The last time a Sox team lost 100 was in 1976 (56-106).
“I’m sure you’ve heard it before,’’ Reed said. “You see something new every game. Things just aren’t going our way, and today was a bad pitch by me.’’
“It seems like that kind of year,’’ said starting pitcher Hector Santiago, who “was all over the place,” according to manager Robin Ventura, while laboring through five innings but escaping with two runs allowed.
“It always goes the other team’s way for some reason,” Santiago said. “It’s a tough one right there. We get a pinch-hit home run from Conor, and you feel like it’s smooth sailing from there on out, and then they just place balls where nobody’s at. And the game goes the other way.’’
The Sox fell to 24-51 on the road, the worst record in the majors. They are one loss away from tying the Miami Marlins for the second-most overall defeats behind the Houston Astros, who probably have the No. 1 draft pick wrapped up.
“It’s another tough loss for us, but I still think guys are battling and competing,’’ Gillaspie said. “You may never see a streak as bad as this in the next 20 years in this organization. Certainly some things haven’t gone our way. I don’t want to use excuses, but there has been some tough luck and some tough breaks. That’s the name of this game sometimes. You just have to keep fighting.’’