Johnny Couto returned for the eighth inning at Globe Life Field on Thursday, aiming to keep the Chicago White Sox within striking distance of the Texas Rangers.
“I like it,” said Cueto through an interpreter. “(Manager Tony La Russa) trusted me and gave me a chance to be there. It was good.”
Cueto did his part, taking the heart of the order out of order. But the Sox couldn’t hold a rally in the ninth, losing 3-2 in the four-game series opener in front of 20,972.
Rangers starter Cole Ragans and three relievers limited the Sox to five hits.
“We closed,” said La Russa. “He pitched with great vigor. (Third Innings) He had a few breaks against him and he came back and made good pitches.
The Ragans allowed an unearned run on three hits in five innings in his Major League debut, but that was not a factor in the decision. The run came in that third, which included a walk, a dropped flyball and a close play at the plate.
Louis Robert, playing your first game On Tuesday, after being reinstated from the list of injured, he left on foot.
With one out and Robert on the other, Jose Abreu hits a flyball to the right. At first glance, Adolis Garcia appears to be catching and dropping the ball during the exchange of his throwing hand with his glove. But upon review, it was clear that Garcia never had control of the ball in his glove. Abreu was awarded the first prize, with Robert already third after an early fall.
Andrew Vaughan swung one between the plate and the mound. Ragans made a secret toss into the plate with his glove, but Robert made a good slide to avoid a tag from catcher Jonah Heim to tie the game at 1.
Robert went 1-for-3 with two walks and runs. “Nice,” said Robert of his return to action. He had not played since July 15.
The game ended in a tie till the seventh.
A bloop from Ezequiel Duran went out of reach of right fielder Andrew Vaughan for one, leaving Rangers runners first and second.
“He wasn’t playing that deep, those balls were perfectly placed,” La Russa said. “He worked by keeping the ball in front of him. We also had a bloop that fell for a third (in eighths) for us, and they don’t play deep. His fielder is shallow. It’s a good sized outfield, but we weren’t that deep and weren’t there. It just blossoms.”
Pinch hitter Mebrice Viloria breaks the tie with an RBI single to centre. Duran later scored a sacrificial fly-to-right when Vaughan and center fielder AJ Pollock became involved.
“He took a small look at me, I was thinking he wanted me to take it,” Pollock said. “I should have taken another look at him and saw he was there. You get to that weird point where you don’t know if he’ll let me and suddenly the ball drops. So just keep going.
“We would have clearly had better shots at home. I don’t know if we would have found him. But I definitely would have had a better shot if I hadn’t clipped him there. ,
The Sox got within a run in the eighth when Abreu scored on Yoan Moncada’s triple between center fielder Léodie Tavares and García.
Cueto was on 93 pitches when he went back to eighth.
“We talked to him,” said La Russa. “He has an extra day before pitching next time. He liked it (Reliever Joe) Kelly was getting hot, so we won’t let her get in trouble. But he goes one, two, three.”
Cueto conceded three runs in 11 hits with four strikes and no walks in his 106-pitch outing.
“My plan has been to just try to get out early,” Cueto said. He said, ‘I am not trying to get out too many batsmen because I want to go deep into the game. I know that for me, for this to happen, I need to get out quickly. I am able to do that and I feel great.”
Jonathan Hernandez made quick work of the Sox in the ninth, dismissing the final two in a perfect innings. Despite the loss, the Sox finished two games behind Minnesota’s first place in the American League Central, which the Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Pollock, who reached 10 years of MLB service on Thursday. “Long-term, usually the right approach and the talent we have in this team usually comes into play.”