ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Johnny Cueto returned for the eighth inning Thursday at Globe Life Field, aiming to keep the Chicago White Sox within striking distance of the Texas Rangers.
“I felt good,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “(Manager Tony La Russa) had confidence in me and he gave me a chance to get out. It was good.”
Cueto did his part, withdrawing the heart from order to order. But the Sox couldn’t put together a rally in the ninth, losing 3-2 in the opener of a four-game series in front of 20,972.
Rangers starter Cole Ragans and three relievers limited the Red Sox to five hits.
“They shut us down,” La Russa said. She “threw her with a lot of poise. (The third inning) he had some breaks against him and he came back and made some good pitches.”
Ragans allowed one unearned run on three hits in five innings in his major league debut, but did not factor in the decision. The run came in that third, which included a walk, a dropped fly ball and a close play at the plate.
louis roberto, playing his first game since being reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday, he has started with a walk.
With one out and Robert on second, José Abreu hit a fly ball to right field. To the naked eye, Adolis Garcia appeared to make the catch and drop the ball during the exchange from his glove to his shooting hand. But upon review, it was clear that Garcia never had control of the ball in his glove. Abreu was awarded first, with Robert already third after the initial descent.
Andrew Vaughn crushed one between home plate and the mound. Ragans made a clandestine throw to the plate from his glove, but Robert made a nice slide to avoid catcher Jonah Heim’s tag to tie the game at 1.
Robert went 1-for-3 with two walks and the run. “I felt good,” Robert said of returning to action. He hadn’t played since July 15.
The match remained tied until the seventh.
A bloop by Ezequiel Duran landed just out of reach of right fielder Andrew Vaughn for a single, giving the Rangers runners at first and second with one out.
“I wasn’t playing that deep, those balls were perfectly placed,” La Russa said. “He did a great job keeping the ball in front of him. We also had a bloop that fell on a triple (in the eighth) for us as well, and they don’t play deep. His fielder is shallow. It’s a good size garden, but we weren’t that deep and we weren’t there either. Just bloops.
Pinch hitter Meibrys Viloria broke the tie with an RBI single to center field. Duran then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field as Vaughn and center fielder AJ Pollock tangled.
“He looked at me a little bit, he was thinking he wanted me to take it,” Pollock said. He should have taken another look and seen that he was there. You get to that awkward point where you don’t know if he’s going to leave me and all of a sudden the ball drops. So he kept going.
“We would have had a better chance, obviously, at home. I don’t know if we would have made it. But I definitely would have had a better chance if I hadn’t cut it there.”
The Sox got within a run in the eighth when Abreu scored on Yoán Moncada’s 3-pointer that came between center fielder Leody Taveras and García.
Cueto was at 93 pitches when he came back out for the eighth.
“We talked to him,” La Russa said. “He has an extra day before he pitches next time. She felt good. (Reliever Joe) Kelly was warming up, so we weren’t going to let her get in trouble. But it goes one, two, three”.
Cueto allowed three runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and no walks in his 106-pitch outing.
“My plan has been to try to make quick outs,” Cueto said. “I haven’t been trying to strike out too many hitters because I want to go deeper into games. I know for me to do that, I need to find quick ways out. I’ve been able to do that and I’ve felt really, really good.”
Jonathan Hernandez made quick work of the Red Sox in the ninth inning, striking out the last two in a perfect inning. Despite the loss, the Red Sox remained two games out of first place Minnesota in the AL Central with the Twins losing to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Pollock, who marked 10 years of MLB service Thursday. “In the long run, usually the right approach and the talent that we have on this team, it usually works out.”