r1166359 600x400 3 2 - Replay Madness

CHICAGO — After jogging lightly to first base on a ground ball back to the pitcher, White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr was pulled from the team’s 12-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Robert hit a ground ball to the third-base side of the mound, where Rays pitcher Calvin Faucher fielded it and threw to first. It likely would have been a close play if not for Robert taking it easy down the line.

Afterward, Robert said he didn’t run it out because he was hurting.

“What happened was, last [Friday] night, I hustled a lot down the line,” Robert said through the team interpreter after the Chicago’s 10th consecutive loss. “Today my legs were a little tired. My right hamstring was a little tight. Then I decided just to play conservative today. … I think my mistake was that I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell the manager because I knew if I said something to him, he probably wouldn’t let me play.”

Robert came out to play the field in the top of the second but was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning. He remained in the dugout talking to his teammates after being benched.

“He might have just had a mental lapse,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We have to run hard down the line. This is not a common occurrence for Luis.”

Robert was immediately booed after the play.

“I understand the decision he made because he didn’t know,” Robert said of Grifol pulling him. “People that didn’t know what was going on, you could think it was a lack of effort on my part. People who know me, they know I’m always doing my best and running hard down the line.”

The sequence with Robert was yet another negative moment for a team that is spiraling after just 28 games.

On Saturday, starter Lance Lynn took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, protecting a 3-0 lead. Tampa Bay proceeded to score 10 runs in the inning, which included three home runs.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Rays are the fourth team in the expansion era (since 1961) to score 10 runs in a game after recording no hits after at least six innings. Tampa scored them all in one inning.

“That inning wasn’t what anyone expected,” Grifol said. “Everything we threw, they hit. They hit it hard.”

The inning was a microcosm of the White Sox’s season as their starting pitching, bullpen and defense let them down.

On a key sequence, after Isaac Paredes hit a ball down the left-field line, left fielder Gavin Sheets misplayed the ball, catcher Yasmani Grandal dropped it on a tag play at the plate and then Lynn flipped the ball back to Grandal, who wasn’t looking, allowing a runner to move up a base. The floodgates opened after that.

“Can’t hide from it,” Grifol said. “It happened.”

Chants of “sell the team” could be heard during that fateful seventh inning on Saturday.

The loss dropped the White Sox into a last-place tie with the Kansas City Royals. Their defeat to the Rays on Friday already guaranteed they’d play the first month of the season without winning a series.

The Rays can sweep the seven-game season series over the White Sox with a win on Sunday.

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White Sox bench OF Luis Robert for not running out grounder