CLEVELAND — The White Sox waited three days to play their worst baseball Wednesday.
After two days of sitting out bad weather in Cleveland for two postponed games, it looked like they hadn’t played in three weeks. In one of their worst displays of defense seen in recent memory, the Sox infield made four errors in the first two innings and left-hander Dallas Keuchel allowed eight consecutive hits, all singles except for a Jose Ramirez grand slam, in an 11-1 loss in the first game of a doubleheader.
Manager Tony La Russa blamed himself for not having his team ready.
“I mean, that’s just a manager kind of taking blame,” said Keuchel, knowing it wasn’t La Russa’s fault. “I knew we were going to be in a dogfight [with Shane Bieber pitching for the Indians]. So I tried to do the best I could. Looking back, a lot of the guys would probably say ‘I wish I could have done better’ but it is what it is. You’ve got to move on.”
The Sox quickly moved on to the second game of a doubleheader, made necessary by Tuesday’s postponement, and managed just three hits in a 2-1 loss, completing a Guardians sweep. La Russa, looking long term and aiming to keep his team’s legs fresh, rested Anderson, Abreu, Eloy Jimenez (sore ankle) and Luis Robert.
But back to that bad defense that took the Sox out of Game 1 almost instantly. The fiasco started with bad throws by shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Jake Burger on the Guardians’ first two at-bats. Abreu was in position for a backhand scoop of Burger’s throw made on the run, but he failed to glove the ball. Anderson made two more fielding errors in the second as the Sox fell behind 10-0 against Bieber.
One of the 10 hits against Keuchel was originally scored an error on Abreu, failing to backhand a ground ball he probably should have had. The official scorer’s change cut the Sox total of errors from five to four.
“The manager didn’t get them ready to play,” La Russa said. “I take the heat for that.
“It’s a common problem, you have an off day and you have to push. And I didn’t push the club like I should have.”
Keuchel was charged with a career high 10 runs (eight earned). He struck out one batter and walked none. Despite the awful line that launched his ERA to 16.50 over two starts, Keuchel knew he deserved better.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you really haven’t,” Keuchel said.
Keuchel felt like he made only two bad pitches, one of them a cutter to Ramirez that was ripped for the Indians’ third slam of the young season.
“I’ll take nine singles and a blast,” Keuchel said. “Three hard hit balls all day. First pitch swings, ground balls, I mean, really all I wanted.”
Keuchel is the second Sox pitcher to give 10 runs in an inning of work, joining MIlt Gaston, who gave up 10 on June 13, 1934.
His replacement, 30-year-old rookie lefty Tanner Banks, was much better with four perfect innings. Banks struck out two and threw 37 of 49 pitches for strikes while keeping his ERA at 0.00 over four appearances and 9 1/3 innings.
Anderson did make two nice plays but after the game was out of reach. Bieber, meanwhile, cruised with six innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and walking none while allowing four hits, one of them an RBI double by Anderson. The Sox struck out a season high 10 times.