CLEVELAND -- White Sox losses have come in many variations of heartbreak over the last 36 games, during which the South Siders own a mere 10 victories.
But Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Indians in 10 innings at Progressive Field, completing the Cleveland weekend sweep, had a new twist. It involved manager Robin Ventura going with five infielders and two outfielders in one extra-inning sequence, and eventually came to a close via Jose Ramirez's single past first baseman Jose Abreu with the bases loaded and two outs.
The ironic part of Abreu being unable to make the play on a tricky hop to his right is that the defense literally had saved a loss in the ninth, with Brett Lawrie diving toward his left to take a game-winning hit away from Michael Martinez with Juan Uribe on second.
"About that play, I mean the bounce was farther than what I expected and my only alternative was to try to dive back to see if I could catch the ball," said Abreu through White Sox interpreter Billy Russo. "If I could have blocked the ball, I would do it. It was tough. I didn't have any chance to do it."
"It just looked like it took a big hop," Ventura said. "But he's either got to come smother it or try and knock it down. Just a play that you've either got to come get it or you've got to back up and try and get a good hop and it ate him up."
Mike Napoli was intentionally walked to load the bases, with Ventura liking Robertson better against switch-hitter Carlos Santana from the left side and knowing Napoli has the ability to get the ball in the air. The plan worked, as Santana popped out to third baseman Todd Frazier for out No. 2, followed by Saladino being replaced by Jason Coats in right.
Much like the White Sox over the past 36 games, the plan ultimately did not work.
"We got the contact we needed. The ball just took a weird hop, found a hole, and that was it," Robertson said. "It's a tough one to lose like that. But if I don't fall behind on the first two pitches and [I] am able to get Rajai out, the inning changes."
Cleveland won its sixth straight against the White Sox, dropping Ventura's crew to 3-14 in their last 17 road games. Since sweeping the Twins from May 6-8, the White Sox are 5-17 over their last 22 played within the American League Central.
"I wish there was a magic answer. We're scuffling. There's no doubt about it," Robertson said. "We're not a bad team. We're just not playing well right now. We're just not having things go our way, and it's a tough stretch. Hopefully we can turn it around when we get to Boston."
"These guys are tough enough to stay strong," Ventura said. "And you keep fighting through it."