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White Sox’ poor work on basepaths costly vs. Rangers

Updated: August 6, 2014 10:50PM

This was the homestand in which the White Sox were supposed to make some hay. Instead, they pretty much bailed out of whatever slim hopes they had of playing meaningful games the rest of the way.

By falling to the struggling Texas Rangers 3-1 Wednesday afternoon with a lackluster performance at U.S. Cellular Field — except for Chris Sale’s six solid yet inefficient innings — the Sox completed a homestand against the American League Central’s last-place Twins and the major-league-worst Rangers (45-69) with a 2-4 record. They took off for Seattle with a 55-60 record.

It never looked like the Sox, who lost 16-0 the night before, were in this one mentally from the get-go.

Alexei Ramirez getting picked off first by right-hander Nick Tepesch (4-7) in the first inning was the first sign. Alejandro De Aza getting easily doubled off on Gordon Beckham’s liner to second in the fifth was the next one. And you had to wonder why Dayan Viciedo — whose homer in the seventh accounted for the Sox’ only run — was swinging at 2-0 and 3-1 pitches high and outside the strike zone when the Sox’ only need was getting a runner on base. They trailed by two runs at the time.

“We’ve got to be better at that,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of the bad baserunning. “You’ve got to be able to freeze right there [De Aza], especially when you’re down. You have to make sure it’s going through. We’ve got to be better at that, and these are guys it seems to be happening to over and over again.’’

The De Aza gaffe gave the Rangers their third double play in as many innings, each one starting with a hit that went for naught.

Then there was Adam Eaton crashing into the right-center-field fence on Maine South grad Adam Rosales’ two-run homer, the first of a pair for the Rangers second baseman. Whether it was bad judgment (likely), overexuberance or a combination of both, Eaton’s crash likely will cause him to miss more time. His hot bat at the top of the lineup is one the Sox can’t afford to lose.

Eaton gets a pass, or at least a partial pass, for effort.

“That hurts him and obviously helps him,’’ Sale said of Eaton’s all-out style. “But you respect it. You’ve got a guy who brings it every day and plays hard every single day. If the worst thing you say about the guy is he plays too hard, that’s probably the best compliment you can possibly give him.’’

Sale, losing for only the second time to go with 10 wins, struck out nine, walked two and gave up three hits over six innings that required 111 pitches to navigate through.

“I was kind of sporadic through the whole game,’’ said the Cy Young candidate who hadn’t lost since June  12 in Detroit. “It’s been the last couple of starts where my fastball command has been off. Just work on that between here and next week and hopefully be able to get a little bit deeper into the game next time.’’

Sale (2.14 ERA) has 47 strikeouts and five walks in his last five starts.

“We’ve still got to keep our heads up,’’ Sale said.

In taking the series from the Sox, who only won a rain-shortened 5-3 decision Monday, the Rangers were able to leave town holding their heads up after winning consecutive games for the first time since June 27 and 28.


Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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