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Joe Kelly’s struggles, Tim Anderson’s gaffe doom White Sox in loss to Marlins

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The White Sox’ pitching staff bent and bent and bent through eight innings of Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Marlins.

Eventually, three outs away from the club’s seventh win in eight games, it broke.

Michael Kopech, Gregory Santos and Reynaldo Lopez combined to hold the Marlins scoreless for 24 outs but lived on the precipice of peril in the process. Kopech allowed at least one runner in scoring position in each of his five innings, then Santos and Lopez escaped similar jams in the sixth and seventh. At that juncture, the Marlins were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

On a day when Liam Hendriks and Kendall Graveman were unavailable for workload reasons, Joe Kelly got the ninth.

Disaster ensued. 

Singles by Garrett Cooper and Luis Arraez sparked the rally, followed by a Jorge Soler walk. Then, shortstop Tim Anderson fumbled a slow grounder that could have forced the tying run out at home but went in the book as an E6.

“I think I just tried to rush the throw,” Anderson said. “I knew they had a fast runner at third. I just really tried to rush it. I just [expletive] it up. That’s really what it was.”

The irony is that Anderson executed a similar play to perfection during the Sox’ 2-1 win Friday, keeping the score knotted 1-1 in the sixth. Manager Pedro Grifol called it the play of the game. 

But this is far from the first time Anderson’s defense has come under scrutiny.

“Last night don’t matter. Nobody cares about last night. I think it’s about, ‘what have you done lately?’ And we seen what I just did,” Anderson said.

Added Grifol when asked if Anderson’s defense is a byproduct of the mental side of the game: “I don’t think so. He made a great play last night that saved the game — and that was a tag play. 

“Timmy has been doing this a long time. He is good at what he does. He works. It’s the way the game is. Get back after it tomorrow.”

Kelly further unraveled from there, walking in a second run then conceding a third on a chopper that Anderson took to third base instead of attempting an off-balance throw home. After Kelly exited to scattered boos, Garrett Crochet entered and conceded a booming double to Jean Segura, which blew the contest open.

All five runs were charged to Kelly, although only two registered as earned.

“They were good at-bats,” Kelly said of the Marlins’ approach. “The pinch-hitter, Garrett, got him 0-2, got a good hit. Arraez is Arraez, got a hit away. And the other guys started battling. They weren’t swinging at anything out of the zone.”

The White Sox’ bullpen had been a boon during their recent surge, entering play on Saturday with MLB’s fourth-best reliever ERA (2.81) since the start of May and a 0.78 mark in seven June games.

In some ways, it was their undoing on Saturday. But this collapse was a failure in all three phases. Kelly, for his control. Anderson, for his defense. And the offense, for producing just one run on an Andrew Vaughn solo homer.

If the White Sox grab a series win tomorrow, the last 10 games will be remembered as positive ahead of a grueling West Coast trip that begins against the Dodgers on Tuesday. But because of the hole they dug themselves out of the gate, they sit 29-37 even after winning six of eight in June.

“I don’t think we’re in a bad place,” Kopech said. “We’ve made a lot of good strides as a team and we continue making those strides. It sucks to lose every time, but overall we’re playing better, we’re fighting harder and if we can continue that I think we’ll get where we need to be.”



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