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Chicago White Sox, in midst of historic skid, are working on closing out games: ‘Every mistake we make is biting us’

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Adversity is not easy, Chicago White Sox manager Pedro Grifol acknowledged.

“But when you know you’re giving your best, it makes it easier,” Grifol said Thursday before the opener of a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox have had a ton of adversity in 2024. They entered on a 13-game losing streak, tied for the longest single-season slide in franchise history. The only other such stretch occurred from Aug. 9-26, 1924.

The Sox (15-47) were off to the worst 62-game start in franchise history and had dropped 17 of 18.

“Handling adversity would be very difficult if you’re not giving your very best,” Grifol said. “If you come out here every day and you bleed this and you work at it and leave it all on the field and give it your very best, it’s easier to handle. That’s what everybody here, to a man, is doing.”

The Sox led in the seventh inning in four of the five games during their recent trip. But they lost all five. The bullpen had a 12.38 ERA with five blown saves in that stretch.

“Obviously we haven’t executed some pitches at times,” Grifol said. “But we also have used these guys a lot. And I think it’s a combination of it’s really important for our starters to give us some length and get these guys a blow. It’s equally as important for us to put it together offensively like we are doing right now and continue to tack on and have these games where we can just relax a little bit.”

The Sox returned home after the bumpy trip with tweaks to the starting lineup, including placing recently recalled outfielder Zach DeLoach in the leadoff spot.

“It’s just being patient for my pitch and once I see it where I’m visualizing it, that’s when I pull the trigger,” DeLoach told the Tribune of the leadoff duties before the game. “And just being confident in that too. Not trying to think too much about it. Going out there and playing my game.”

Added Grifol: “This is a good opportunity for a lot of these guys to show what they’re doing. A good case in point is DeLoach leading off today, (Duke) Ellis in center field. Go get ’em.”

Photos: Cubs beat White Sox 7-6 in a comeback win at Wrigley Field

DeLoach returned from Charlotte on Tuesday, one of six roster moves that included the Sox placing outfielders Tommy Pham and Dominic Fletcher on the injured list.

The Sox have 13 players on the IL. Grifol said third baseman Yoán Moncada (left adductor strain) “is progressing, it’s a little slower pace.”

“He’s catching ground balls, doing good in that regard,” Grifol said. “But his injury was significant and we’ll take it slower.”

It’s not a setback, Grifol said. And the timeline for return still could be after the All-Star break.

“We’re not going to rush it,” Grifol said. “We’re going to err on the side of caution. Just because the significance of the injury and making sure when he comes back we don’t have any setbacks.”

Eloy Jiménez (left hamstring strain) “should be in a rehab assignment maybe the middle to end of next week,” Grifol said. And starter Mike Clevinger (right elbow inflammation) is scheduled for a live BP session Friday, with a rehab assignment likely to follow.

The Sox are trying to navigate through the injuries — and find ways to close out games. Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Cubs, which ended on a Mike Tauchman walk-off home run off Michael Kopech, marked the 22nd time this season they suffered a defeat after leading in the game.

“We are making a mistake here and there, but everybody makes them,” Grifol said. “The thing is, every mistake we make is biting us in the ass. That’s just the way it’s going right now.

“The fact that we are in all these games and we have a chance to win these games, it’s providing information for us to be able to teach, develop and make sure down the road here we can close these games.”

Grifol said closing out a game doesn’t just extend to pitching.

“I actually call defensive guys or defensive plays ‘closers’ in closing it out,” he said. “I call a three-run homers when you are up 5-1 closing the game out. There’s different ways to close a game out. We just have to make sure we continue to understand that we can do it baserunning, defense, hitting and pitching.

“Those are the ways that we can close these games out and these guys understand that and they talk about it. That’s the cool thing. In the midst of this losing streak and all this stuff, these guys are busting their ass in there and rooting for each other.”

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