ST. PETERSBURG -- Little things have meant a great deal to the White Sox through the first 60 games of the 2015 season. As illustrated during the team's 5-4 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field on Saturday, those little things are turning a once promising season into an ongoing disappointment.
In the seventh inning, with Jeff Samardzija and Chris Archer locked in a pitchers' duel befitting of their top-of-the-rotation status, Ramirez couldn't get a Logan Forsythe grounder out of his glove with the infield in, one out and Nick Franklin on third. Ramirez's hesitation allowed Franklin to score the go-ahead run and break a 2-2 deadlock.
The White Sox rallied to take the lead in the eighth on Conor Gillaspie's two-run, pinch-hit homer. But after the Rays tied the game against reliever Zach Putnam in the bottom half, they scored the winning run on an error by Ramirez.
Jake Elmore hit a grounder up the middle against Jake Petricka with runners on first and second and two out that Ramirez made a sliding play at the edge of the infield dirt. He tried to flip the ball to Gordon Beckham for a force at second, but the ball tailed away and Steven Souza Jr. scored from second.
Ramirez might have had a play at the plate in the seventh. He could have held the ball and forced a bases-loaded situation in the eighth, or made a play on Souza Jr. at home if he kept running. His mindset wasn't known postgame, as the shortstop was unavailable for comment.
But White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, filling in for manager Robin Ventura this weekend, backed Ramirez while admitting that they need more from their veteran middle infielder.
"It's hard for me to put myself in that spot because he has a lot more talent than I have. But he does need to make those plays," said Parent of Ramirez. "He's made them before.
"Ball gets stuck in your glove, you know, it happens. It seems like things like that happen too often. Not just to him, but to us that end up adding outs, adding baserunners and not getting outs. Those things are adding up too frequently. We have to correct it. We have to play better."
"We" becomes the key word here. This loss is not on Ramirez, as for example, two stolen bases set up the two eighth-inning Rays runs. Good teams make the little things work for them. Those teams who don't eventually wonder what happened to their postseason aspirations.
"Like we did tonight hitting the two-run home run, we have to find a way to win," White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said. "We have to find a way to win, win late and win close games. That's what makes good teams great."