White Sox end losing streak, but next few weeks crucial for future
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 24, 2014 6:16PM
Updated: June 24, 2014 11:22PM
BALTIMORE — The White Sox broke a five-game losing streak and won for only the third time in their last 12 games, holding on in another nervous ninth inning for a 4-2 victory Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.
It’s still June, but the midpoint of this 11-game road trip was as good a time as any for a deep breath. And a big exhale.
A night after closer Ronald Belisario served up a walk-off home run to Chris Davis in the ninth, he put the tying run on base again but escaped by getting Ryan Flaherty to hit into a double play, the fourth turned by second baseman Gordon Beckham (who homered in the first) and shortstop Alexei Ramirez (who doubled and scored twice).
‘‘After the last five days, we needed that,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘We did enough to win.’’
General manager Rick Hahn, who is watching the Sox in Baltimore, has kind of seen this coming from a team that wasn’t built to contend but teased fans by hanging around the .500 mark for a good part of the first two months. In the coming weeks, Hahn will be faced with deciding whether to continue working his rebuilding plan by dealing veterans for prospects as the July 31 trade deadline nears or trying to patch some holes and keep everyone around should the Sox muster a long-enough winning streak to return to contention.
This low point isn’t a turning point, Hahn said, but more of the same will make his decision easier.
‘‘At no point were we going to let a specific 10-game sample dictate what our plans were going to be going forward,’’ he said. ‘‘But the longer it takes us to pull out of it, the more difficult it will be for us to get to where we want to be this year.”
As Hahn pointed out, he and the Sox (36-42) have a few more weeks. During that time, he’ll continue to fly under the radar, which is where the Sox prefer to do business.
‘‘It’s not as if we’re going to make a public announcement,’’ he said.
As the Sox prepared for the game Tuesday, the mood in the clubhouse was relaxed. No panic buttons were being pushed.
‘‘We have a talented team, and I stand behind that,’’ said Beckham, whose home run in the first against Miguel Gonzalez helped the Sox build an early 3-0 lead for lefty Jose Quintana (4-7). ‘‘I come to the park with optimism every day because of the guys who are in here. It’s a good atmosphere. We have good guys here who want to work, and that’s all you can ask for when you go through times like this.’’
But when streaks get into the crooked-number range, the need for a victory to get the train back on the track is greater. Even on June 24.
‘‘The bad teams let that stuff affect them, and the season goes the other way,’’ Beckham said.
After the loss Monday, Ventura said his players needed to put on their ‘‘big-boy pants’’ and find a way to win a game.
‘‘It means we just have to step up,’’ Beckham said.
‘‘We’ve been competitive, and there are certain elements we should be pleased about,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘The ability to fight back, rally late in games, the development of some of our new players. But we know there are holes that need to be plugged. . . . There will be some growing pains, and that’s perhaps what we’re experiencing now.’’