Another 'pretty rough' loss knocks Chicago White Sox out of first place
About this time one week ago, the White Sox were flying high.
A win over the Twins gave them the distinction of becoming the first American League team to clinch a playoff berth, and the Sox (33-17) also owned the best record.
A downward spiral followed, and the White Sox's fade continued Wednesday night with a 3-2 loss at Cleveland.
They are still heading to the postseason for the first time since 2008, but the Sox have dropped five of six and are now running second to Minnesota in the AL Central.
"Pretty rough," White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said after another wrenching loss to the Indians. "A walk-off homer two nights in a row is not a good feeling. But it is what it is. Put it behind us, and we've got to come out and win tomorrow, kind of right the ship, get on track for the playoffs."
Manager Rick Renteria sent Gio Gonzalez to the mound in the ninth inning, and the left-hander gave up the game-winning home run to Jordan Luplow with one out.
Renteria said closer Alex Colome was available after dealing with back spasms in Tuesday's walk-off loss to the Indians, but he was hoping to use him in a save situation in the 10th.
"Alex was only going to be able to go one (inning) today," Renteria said. "Putting (Gonzalez) there, you can flip-flop either way you want to do it. If we go ahead, (Colome) goes out there and closes it out in the ninth."
The Sox have faced two tough teams since clinching -- the Reds and Indians -- but Jose Abreu said there has been a letdown.
"We relaxed a little bit," Abreu said through a translator. "That was why we got in this moment. But like I said before, for good things to happen, you need bad things to push you."
Bad things keep happening, and the White Sox have four more games in the regular season to get back to the good stuff.
"We were playing very, very well all season long," said Giolito, who had 11 strikeouts while allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings. "Our offense was spectacular all season long. It's hard to maintain that for an entire season, during an entire stretch of the season.
"I think that having this little stretch here is a little bit of that wake-up call. It shows us that, hey, we're not invincible every time we go out. Things are going to be tough at times and it's going to take us kind of picking each other up where we need to and believing in ourselves to get out of it."
Luis Robert was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts Wednesday, and the one-time Rookie of the Year front-runner now is in an 0-for-24 slide.
Manager Rick Renteria said he is "absolutely" considering giving Robert a needed day off.
Off and running:
Garrett Crochet got the call again Wednesday night in a high-leverage situation, and he came through again.
The Sox's first-round draft pick in June out of Tennessee, Crochet pitched a scoreless seventh inning against the Indians while pumping more fastballs over 100 mph.
Showing no signs of rust, Crochet has made 4 relief appearances since joining the White Sox from Schaumburg last Friday. The 21-year-old lefty has allowed 1 hit over 4 scoreless innings to go with 5 strikeouts.