White Sox lose to Twins, fall to 0-3 on 11-game trip
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 21, 2014 4:32PM
Updated: June 21, 2014 9:42PM
MINNEAPOLIS — At this rate, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn’s decision about whether to buy or sell around the trade deadline will be an easy one.
With their third dull defeat Saturday in the third game of a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins at the start of an 11-game road trip, the Sox fell to 35-40 and into last place in the American League Central. While few expected the Sox — who shifted into rebuild mode about a year ago as a 99-loss season was unfolding — to contend this season, a revised, productive lineup injected unexpected hope during the first two months of the season.
Those hopes are fading fast this weekend. The Twins, who had lost five consecutive games entering the series, continued to expose a lacking starting rotation with a 4-3 victory. The Sox’ offense has averaged three runs a game at Target Field.
‘‘These funks are a learning experience,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said. ‘‘Everything you do every day is a learning experience, whether it’s good or bad. The ability to take that and make it a positive is the hardest thing to do in this game.’’
Dayan Viciedo (9-for-69) and Tyler Flowers (5-for-59) — who started the season hot — are slumping, and Alexei Ramirez hasn’t had an RBI in 90 plate appearances.
‘‘The only thing hitters can do is come to the field, prepare for the game, compete during the game and try to barrel up a baseball,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘Hits — there is no recipe for those. If anybody has a recipe for a hit, please let me know. We’re going to make a lot of money.’’
Jose Abreu singled off the wall in right-center field to score Conor Gillaspie, who had tripled, in the first inning. Then Gordon Beckham got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the second to drive in the Sox’ second run. A walk and an error set up the Sox with one out in the third, but Viciedo hit into a double play.
In the ninth, Beckham knocked in Adam Eaton, who had tripled, with a sacrifice fly to pull the Sox to 4-3. Pinch hitter Paul Konerko singled to put the tying run on, but Abreu and Adam Dunn struck out to end the game.
‘‘I feel like we’re beating ourselves, especially offensively,’’ said Dunn, who missed a two-run home run by inches on foul ball in the fifth. ‘‘When we are getting pitches to hit, we’re fouling them off or [hitting] a lot of balls at people or deep fly balls. Obviously, [the Twins] are out there trying to make a living, as well. But we’ve got to do better offensively. That’s the bottom line.’’
Not everyone is in a funk. Abreu (2-for-5) and Gillaspie (2-for-4) have six-game hitting streaks.
Losing pitcher Andre Rienzo, who has allowed 17 runs and 22 hits in his last three starts spanning 14 innings, couldn’t finish the fifth. The big hit was a two-run double by Joe Mauer that cleared the glove of left fielder Alejandro De Aza, who didn’t take a great path on the ball retreating to the wall.
Rienzo (4-5) might be pitching his way out of the rotation.
‘‘That’s up to them,’’ he said, pointing toward manager Robin Ventura’s office.
Scott Carroll, who pitched 31/3 scoreless innings, has a 1.86 ERA in long relief since getting bumped out of the rotation and might have earned another look, although Ventura likes the way he throws strikes coming out of the bullpen. There aren’t many other rotation options on the roster or in Class AAA.
‘‘We’ll talk about that later,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Right now, we’re trying to figure out how to win a game.’’