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Rays 7, White Sox 5: Defense undermines winning streak

Several miscues make life more difficult for John Danks and the bullpen

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a heartening three-game sweep of the Houston Astros, the White Sox hit the road and forgot how to play baseball again.

John Danks didn't pitch as poorly as his line. He gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk over 5⅓ innings, but only one of those hits went for extra bases (a Nick Franklin double). A leadoff walk in the third inning put him in trouble, and three singles led to a 2-0 Tampa Bay lead, but the rest was more attributable to bad luck.

Take the fifth inning, for instance. The Sox had just tied it up thanks to some Rays generosity, as Adam Eaton dropped a nice bunt, and Rene Rivera's attempt to get him out bounced down down the right field line. Carlos Sanchez scored on the play, Eaton made it all the way to third, and he scored on an Alexei Ramirez sac fly.

The game didn't stay tied for long, but Danks made good pitches. Joey Butler reached on an infield single up the middle, and Evan Longoria hit a bleeder through the right side to put runners on the corners. The Rays converted, with Logan Forsythe hitting a sac fly to give them a 3-2 lead.

Then poor defense joined the bad luck. After Jake Elmore barely beat out Sanchez's jump throw for another infield single up the middle, Franklin hit a slow chopper to third. Gordon Beckham charged it and gloved it, but Jose Abreu couldn't catch his low throw to third. The E-3 set the stage for a surge, and the Rays didn't miss the opportunity.

A sac bunt runners on second and third, and Mark Parent called for Daniel Webb. With a drawn-in infield, Webb got Rene Rivera to hit a grounder at Sanchez, who smothered it and made a quick throw home. It was just to the first base side of home plate, and Elmore used a precise slide to jab his hand over home plate before Tyler Flowers applied the tag. It withstood a challenge, and the Rays led 4-2.

But they weren't done, and neither were the Sox. Kevin Kiermaier smacked a single to center for another run, and then Flowers couldn't handle a Webb sinker. The passed ball moved both runners up and took away the double play. That's when Butler came through with a line drive single to center for the Rays' third-run of the inning, and the game-winner. That was Webb's first run of the season, but it was unearned thanks to a passed ball.

Junior Guerra made his major league debut, and the run he allowed should have been unearned. Guerra started his career by jamming Steven Souza, but Ramirez and Sanchez nearly collided chasing after it, and Ramirez dropped the ball. It should've been E-6, but it was ruled a single. Souza moved to second on Elmore's single, and they both moved up on a wild pitch that probably should've been another passed ball for Flowers. Franklin then cashed in Souza with a single to center to mar Guerra's ERA before his first inning was over.

The Rays took sympathy on Guerra, though. With runners on the corners, the next batter, David DeJesus, hit a comebacker that Guerra gloved. He turned to third and caught Elmore way off the bag, and he threw to Beckham to start the rundown. Beckham executed it perfectly by running down Elmore without a throw, and then capped it off with a spinning throw to third, where Ramirez caught it and applied a tag to Franklin for the rare 1-5-6 double play.

One TOOTBLAN wasn't enough. In the ninth, Kevn Kiermaier stood on third with two outs when Guerra threw a pitch in the dirt. Flowers blocked this one, and took a little time to locate the not-too-distant carom. Kiermaier started to break for home, and Flowers had the ball before Kiermaier could get started back. Flowers' pump-fake caught Kiermaier reversing course to home, and he started another smooth rundown to end the ninth.

That brought a close to Guerra's debut. He allowed the one (should've been un)earned run on four hits over his two innings, with one intentional walk and two strikeouts. Given the quality of play around him, it's possible he couldn't detect a difference from the Italian league he pitched in last year.

So let's read it back: That's one error, one should've-been error, one passed ball, one should've-been passed ball. They led to three unearned runs, and it should've been four. Poor defensive play cost the Sox this game, since John Danks pitched well enough for his standards and the Sox scored five runs.

Yet it wasn't a complete loss, because Jose Abreu somehow hit this 92 mph fastball off the right-field foul pole for a threetwo-run homer.

Abreu homer

Record: 28-31 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights