Tip your caps to the other team and just be glad they play in the National League.
That’s what the White Sox did — and probably thought — after losing to the Nationals 7-4 on Thursday night, absorbing a three-game sweep.
Starting pitching is the Sox’ strength, but Washington hitters roughed up Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd in the first two games.
In the series finale, it was Dylan Axelrod’s turn.
Filling a spot in the rotation while John Danks works his way back from shoulder surgery, Axelrod was borderline brilliant in his first start, beating Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Against a much better Nationals lineup, Axelrod could never get the pitch count under control. The right-hander lasted just 32⁄3 innings and allowed 6 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks.
Neither Peavy nor Floyd could make it out of the sixth inning against Washington. Axelrod (0-1), who threw 103 pitches in the abbreviated outing, couldn’t avoid trouble in the fourth.
After Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger delivered consecutive RBI singles off Nationals starter Dan Haren (1-1) to tie it at 3-3 in the top of the inning, Washington answered right back with 3 runs in the bottom half.
A wild pitch scored Haren from third base and, after Axelrod intentionally walked Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman put the Nats in front for good with a 2-run double.
“Harper is hot,” Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters. “You are just rolling the dice either way. You just take your chance, and (Zimmerman) got him.”
De Aza, Keppinger, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Conor Gillaspie all had 2 hits, and the White Sox’ offense finished with 13.
Clutch hitting remains a problem, though. The Sox were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position; in the three-game series, they were 4-for-29.
The White Sox headed for Cleveland following the sweep, and they can get back to their regular American League lineup, minus injured second baseman Gordon Beckham.
The Sox put a lot of mileage on the bullpen in the Washington series, and afterward Ventura strongly hinted another pitcher would take Beckham’s roster spot.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.