Half-speed is no way for the White Sox to be operating, but that’s what we saw from them Sunday in an ugly 9-0 loss to the Rays that left them five games behind the defending American League champs in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
It wasn’t just Eloy Jimenez in left field, either, though he was a primary culprit. He came in extra slowly on a first-inning blooper by Ji-man Choi and played what probably should’ve been a single into a double. In the second inning, Jimenez jogged toward a lazy fly off the bat of Francisco Mejia that would’ve been a fairly routine play for most, but instead landed foul.
How much did it matter in what became a rubber-match blowout? Maybe not a lot. Same could be said of first baseman Jose Abreu hanging back on a three-hopper in the third and letting it skip off the bag for an infield hit. Or of Luis Robert going back to second base in slow motion on an infield liner in the eighth and being doubled off the bag.
The little things always seem to matter to the Rays, though, which must be how they unfailingly add up to more than the sum of their parts.
Jimenez might be under orders not to get himself hurt (again) out there, but there’s a line between careful and careless and — Sunday, anyway — the Sox were on the wrong side of it. Will that change? Hey, it’s only late August.
Here’s what’s happening:
White Sox at Blue Jays (6:07 p.m., NBCSCH)
The only second-half road series the Sox have taken was at Wrigley Field, where “Ws” are practically free. Let’s see if Lance Lynn can keep his belt on long enough in the opener of a four-game set to outduel impressive Jays rookie Alek Manoah.
Jaguars at Saints (7 p.m., ESPN)
No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence going against old-enough-to-be-his-daddy Drew Brees would’ve been terrific preseason theater. Instead, Jameis Winston steps under the spotlight needing a strong performance to beat out Taysom Hill as Saints QB1.
Sky at Dream (6 p.m., ESPN3, The U)
If we’ve learned anything about the Sky this season, it’s that they can’t function without Candace Parker. But with her? We’re still trying to get a handle on that one.
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10 p.m., HBO)
Segments include an examination of a recent explosion in the sports-card industry, which has seen a run on seven-figure sales involving eight of the top single-card sales ever. Alas, it’s probably still too soon to unload those 2021 Frank Schwindel babies.
Rockies at Cubs (1:20 p.m., Marquee)
How bad has it gotten at Wrigley? So bad, fans actually miss watching the Cubs scratch out one measly run against the Rockies in the 2018 NL wild-card game.
Dodgers at Padres (9 p.m., ESPN)
The Padres have lost some shine, but they’re still in the wild-card hunt and can heave a wrench into Walker Buehler’s NL Cy Young plans here.
White Sox at Blue Jays (2:07 p.m., NBCSCH)
It’s getaway day to wrap a seven-game trip and a four-game series in Toronto, one of those days that can test a team’s concentration. Are the Sox as locked in as they ought to be?
Cubs at White Sox (7:10 p.m., Marquee, NBCSCH)
Are the Sox as locked in as they ought to … oh, wait, never mind. We can worry about that again next time they’re facing a major-league opponent.
Sky at Storm (9 p.m., NBA TV, The U)
The Sky won the teams’ last meeting in overtime — with Seattle superstars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird resting. It’s a whole different ballgame this time.
Nebraska at Illinois (noon, Fox-32)
Lovie Smith joined a long list of coaches who couldn’t get it done in Champaign. Maybe Bret Bielema can? All eyes — nation-wide, baby — are on Game No. 1 of the entire college football season.
Bears at Titans (6 p.m., Fox-32)
Preseason finales are a lot more relaxing to watch when your team looks even vaguely prepared for the start of the regular season. Any chance Week 1 can be pushed back a skosh?
Cubs at White Sox (1:10 p.m., Marquee)
Look, we don’t mean to make so many wisecracks at the Cubs’ expense. They’ve been doing the best they can since making their September call-ups.
Little League World Series final (2 p.m., Ch. 7)
With no international teams in this year’s field, it’s hotdog vs. apple pie for all the glory. One hopes pizza parties — forget those lame orange slices — await both the champions and the runners-up.
Dolphins at Bengals (3 p.m., Ch. 2)
A head-to-head matchup of QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow might not move the needle that much in NFL circles, but college football fans are loving it. Winner gets an early leg up in the SEC West.
Browns at Falcons (7 p.m., Ch. 5)
Here it is, folks — the last game of the NFL preseason. It might be tempting to shut off the TV when Atlanta takes a 28-3 lead, but you should know better.