DETROIT — The consolation prizes are merely minor milestones and building blocks heading into 2014.
That’s what the White Sox were reduced to Friday night after they fell short in several areas of a 2-1 loss to the American League Central-leading Tigers. The setback extended their losing streak to eight games — tying a season high — while they fell to 27 games below .500 for the first time since ending the 1976 season with a 64-97 record.
“This game is cruel sometimes,” manager Robin Ventura said after watching double plays halt two late-inning rallies and Adam Dunn grounding out to second with the tying run at second to end the game.
Dunn had two hits, including a single in the seventh for his 1,500th career hit.
“That’s about probably 100 or 200th on the list of things to worry about,” Dunn said.
Ventura called for a hit-run-run in the eighth, only for Gordon Beckham to hit a hard grounder at second baseman Ramon Santiago, who fielded the ball near the bag and stepped on it before throwing to first to complete a double play.
“It seems like that has been happening all year,” Dunn said. “It’s no excuse.”
Alex Rios drove in the Sox’s lone run with a two-out single but was caught in a rundown for the final out of the sixth with Dunn on deck.
This marked the 20th time the Sox (40-67) were held to one run or fewer, thus wasting a solid pitching performance from left-hander Hector Santiago. In fact, the Sox’s starters have a 2.68 ERA over their last eight games — albeit all losses.
Santiago (3-7) made big personal progress as he avoided any bouts of wildness in his seven innings that have led to high pitch counts and have prevented him from pitching deeper into games.
“He has to build on that,” Ventura said. “You put him in basically his first year of starting up here, and any hiccup is going to cost you. I thought this was a step in the right direction. He got through it without any wild moments and you have no idea why.”
Before the game, Dunn defended Ventura’s mild-mannered efforts in navigating the Sox through a disastrous period.
“You hear all the stuff about they’re not fiery, not a fiery team,” Dunn said. “But what people don’t know is what happens behind closed doors. No offense, but that’s not for anyone else to know. That’s for our coaching staff, our team, to know what’s going on. They don’t feel they have to show they’re doing it just to show they’re doing it. That’s the best way to handle it. I don’t care what anyone else says.
“Obviously we see what’s going on. We know what’s going on. But when Robin has a message, it gets delivered.”