When you go 1-9 in Yankee Stadium over three years, taking one out of three in a series resembles progress for the White Sox.
And considering all the extra outs the Sox gave the Yankees, I suppose this game also shows how much more talent this team has. Yet it also made mistakes that the team can't afford to make a habit in the long run.
Brett Lawrie: The idea of Jacoby Ellsbury spooked him out, as he twice rushed throws on soft grounders. The first one gave Jose Abreu an in-between bounce that he couldn't handle in the first inning, and the second pulled Abreu off the bag. He scored both times, and the second one was especially painful, as it extended the inning long enough for Carlos Beltran to hit a two-run blast off Zach Duke to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the sixth.
The next half-inning, the White Sox rattled Dellin Betances with three straight hits to tie the game -- singles by Abreu and Todd Frazier and a double by Melky Cabrera. Lawrie bounced meekly to short to freeze Abreu, and neither Avisail Garcia nor Alex Avila could pick him up.
He went 0-for-3 with five stranded, and two of his mistakes led to three runs. It wasn't his best game.
The bullpen: Then again, even if Lawrie got the go-ahead run home, the Sox bullpen might not have been the best bet to keep it. Duke, Matt Albers and Nate Jones all gave up runs, and they were all well-struck. We know what Duke did. Albers walked Didi Gregorius with two outs for no good reason, then gave up a pinch-hit RBI double to Chase Headley. Jones served up a solo homer to Brian McCann after missing with a fastball by most of a plate. Regression is no fun.
Miguel Gonzalez: Gonzalez was hurt by Lawrie's first-inning miscue, but he limited the damage and came back for a 1-2-3 second. Just when it looked like he'd found a groove, his control abandoned him. He walked three batters in the third inning, including one with the bases loaded to allow the Yankees to take a 3-2 lead. He issued two-out walks in each of the next two innings, including one to Dustin Ackley that ended his day in the fifth. He still deserves a longer look, since Yankee Stadium isn't the most comfortable place to pitch for a flyballing righty, but he reduced his margin for error.
Robin Ventura: Ventura had a strange game, too. He didn't challenge what looked like a strike-him-out-throw-him-out in the first inning, forcing Gonzalez to record a fifth out when he already had to get four. (Joe Girardi challenged a similar stolen base in the sixth inning and ended up defusing a scoring threat, pictured above.)
Then Ventura made the unusual call to replace Dan Jennings with Duke against Beltran in the fifth. Jennings has neutral-to-reverse splits, so it's not like Ventura was replacing a LOOGY with a LOOGY, but since Beltran was worse from the right side, that seemed to play into Jennings' hands. I'd like to know why the ball was taken out of them.
Yet even with all this ugliness, the Sox still made it hard on the Yankees. It resembled the Cole Hamels game from earlier in the week -- giving the other team's best pitcher a tough time on getaway day. Garcia capitalized on two walks with an RBI single in the second, Adam Eaton hit a solo shot in the third, then followed up with a squeeze bunt in the fourth, after which Austin Jackson delivered an RBI single for a 4-3 lead. And one day after getting dominated by Betances, they made him look wobbly.
All in all, this is a better team. Otherwise, Lawrie's error wouldn't have been the first one committed by a White Sox this month. It's just a team that can't fall in love with itself. Fortunately, they're the only AL Central team over .500.