Hawk Harrelson says the No. 1 rule in baseball is to catch the ball, but today showed why other rules are necessary. The White Sox did just about everything they could within their individual talents to keep runs off the board defensively, but the team's arms and bats didn't comply.
Instead, the Sox slipped back below .500 with a second consecutive low-output loss.
It should have been worse. "Led" by an Andre Rienzo who just didn't have it today, White Sox pitching allowed 18 baserunners (10 hits, seven walks, one HBP) over nine innings, but only four runs crossed the plate. Three double played helped, including a strike-him-out-throw-him-out and a sweet Alexei Ramirez 6-3 after catching a sinking liner.
Rienzo: Snabbed a hard-hit comebacker and wheeled to third, catching Will Venable off the bag. The ensuing rundown wasn't well-executed, allowing Cameron Maybin to reach second and later score, but hey.
Conor Gillaspie: Seth Smith tried defying the shift for an RBI single, but Gillaspie hit the ground to snare it, and got the ball to first just in time.
Adam Eaton: Turned a two-run single into a one-run single with a great throw home. Tyler Flowers caught it on the fly, which also took him into a path of a non-sliding Quentin. The collision of two solid men resulted in no casualties but one out.
Eaton also made another tremendous throw home that made a sac fly way closer than seemed likely. Throw in a strong throwing day by Flowers (2-for-3, including one that withstood a challenge), and the Sox' run prevention crew was ultimately successful, even without the best pitching driving the engine.
Unfortunately, a timely diving catch on San Diego's end by Chris Denorfia killed a promising moment for the Sox, and such rallies were few and far between.
The White Sox trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Ramirez stood on first (single, stolen base) and Alejandro De Aza on first (walk) with two outs. Up came Tyler Flowers, who hit one off the end of the bat to right field. It had all the makings of a 2014 Tyler Flowers Single, but Denorfia stretched out and picked the ball before it hit the turf for the final out.
The Sox did score twice as many runs as they did the day before, but neither run was one for the scrapbook. In the second, the Sox cut into a 2-0 deficit ... when De Aza grounded into a first-pitch double play. Scored a run. Big deal.
One inning later, Dayan Viciedo followed De Aza with a first-pitch double play ... after Gillaspie drew a four-pitch walk ahead of him. Viciedo did redeem himself somewhat in the fifth. With two outs, he laced a double to center field to drive in Eaton, cutting the Padres' lead to 3-2.
Each time the Sox scored, though, the Padres found a way to get the run back immediately. The Sox needed a crooked number or two, but they went down without much of a fight once again. Tyson Ross and three Padres relievers retired nine of the last 10 batters they faced.
*The Sox also scraped together more hits than they did the day before, but it's just a 5-4 edge there. Ramirez and Viciedo collected two hits apiece; Paul Konerko had the other one.
*Gordon Beckham isn't a fan of this series -- he's 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. He avoided the silver sombrero today, but Adam Dunn picked it up for him.