The White Sox got into their current funk as a team and they’ll only get out of one way.
As a team.
So says Jose Abreu, a team leader who has been through more rough stretches during his nine-year career than he cares to recall.
A 7-11 start to a season that brimmed with confident postseason aspirations and then a 6-2 start is a different animal, though. The Sox entered Friday’s game against the streaking Angels, winners of five straight games, having lost nine of their last 10. They aren’t hitting, they’re not fielding well and the pitching has taken its share of responsibility, too.
“The numbers, the stats, they speak for themselves,” Abreu told the Sun-Times through translator Billy Russo before the game. “We’re passing through a very tough moment, as a whole team. There is no magic answer. The only thing we should do is get out of this as a team, swing at strikes, have good at-bats.
“We’re in this as a team. Get out of it as a team.”
Hammering home the point of sticking together begged a question. This team is together, right?
“We’re united,” Abreu said. “Listen, I understand what people might say, that maybe we’re not. But that’s not the case. Things just aren’t going our way right now. And it’s no secret we’re missing key players [to injuries]. When you lose a game, and when the losses pile up, you can feel down. But that doesn’t mean we’re not united. We are. We’re humans, too, and we have feelings. We’re going to get out of this is a unit.”
The Sox entered batting .186/.238/.292 and averaging 2.4 runs over the last 13 games. They were last in the majors with 38 walks, last in on-base percentage at .263 and 26th with a .608 OPS.
“Maybe we’re being overly aggressive,” Abreu said. “But we have to figure out a way to get out of that. Maybe one way is to be smart. Swing at good pitches.”
Angels leadoff hitter Taylor Ward and Shohei Ohtani swung at two of Giolito’s pitches that left the park in the first inning, putting the Sox in a 2-0 hole. Tim Anderson doubled and scored on an error in the first, cutting the lead in half against Jimmy Herget, who started in place of Noah Syndergaard, a late scratch due to a non-COVID related illness.
Abreu, who was batting .206/.286/.349 with two homers, smashed into a 106.7 mph double-play one-hopper to end the first. He was robbed on a catch by Trout at the right-center field fence to end the fourth.
Abreu has had a hand in the majors-worst defense with two errors and failing to scoop a couple of low throws he knows he should have had this season.
“We’ve made more miscues than we want to make,” he said. “But that doesn’t define us. We’re a much better defensive team than we’ve shown. It’s one of those funky slumps we’re in. For us, we can’t over-react. Keep trusting the work, keep trusting the abilities.”
Abreu isn’t necessarily buying into manager Tony La Russa’s and hitting coach Frank Menechino’s contention that the team is pressing. Abreu suggested the Sox simply aren’t having good at-bats and not making the plays in the field.
“We all respect Tony and his opinion. I’m not going to contradict him — maybe he’s right,” Abreu said. “But it’s just a matter of working. Once we get in a groove, we’ll be OK.”