HOUSTON -- For a team as fundamentally sound as any in baseball during the 2012 season, the defensive miscues from the 2013 White Sox continue to be perplexing.
Friday's 2-1 loss marked the ninth game this season during which the White Sox have committed at least two errors, and they are on pace to make 111 for the season. That total would be 41 more than their 70 last season.
Errors are part of the game, but they become more heightened for a team that ranks 13th, 14th or 15th in seven separate offensive categories. As the White Sox fielding percentage dips to .981, and with five errors in their last two games and eight committed in their last six, manager Robin Ventura believes these miscues are not born from a lack of effort.
"Absolutely not. Or concentration and things like that," Ventura said. "There are going to be physical things that just happen in a game. For me, it's not effort. They are working and doing the things you want them to do.
"Everyone is going to make their mistakes. It just seems like the one we're making is the one we were making a play on last year. Which one this is, you kind of chalk it up to it's going to happen every once in a while, so you go from there. It's not an effort issue. It's not a concentration issue."
Alexei Ramirez drew focus in the series opener against the Astros for his two fifth-inning errors that produced two unearned runs for Chris Sale. Those Ramirez mistakes, giving him 10 for the season, left the shortstop sitting in front of his locker postgame, with his head in his hands, staring at the floor. Teammates and coaches were still giving pats on the back and words of encouragement Saturday to Ramirez, who also has shown flashes of brilliance in the field this season.
"He's got a lot of pride and he cares and doesn't want to let anybody down," said White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing, who works defensively with the infielders. "But you know he goes out and competes hard every single day, and there's nothing more you can do."
When asked if he thought Ramirez remains one of the best defensive shortstops in the American League, McEwing gave the one word answer of "absolutely." It's hard to figure for the entire staff how the Major League's top defense last year, featuring many of the same players with an upgrade at third base in the presence of Conor Gillaspie, has slipped so much.
"When you play for a long time, you are going to make them and you just try to eliminate them and continue to work," McEwing said. "The toughest thing is stay positive. If you continue to be negative, it will continue to snowball. Stay positive and continue to grind."
No point in pitchers pointing fingers
HOUSTON -- With the White Sox offense and defense struggling pretty much the entire season, it would be easy for the team's stellar pitching to point fingers. Take Chris Sale's effort Friday as an example for the sixth-ranked staff in the American League based on its 3.74 ERA.
Sale struck out 14 and allowed five singles over eight innings, walking just one, yet still took the loss. The White Sox ace certainly wasn't pointing fingers after the tough setback, and pitching coach Don Cooper echoed that sentiment regarding his staff's demeanor on Saturday.
"I won't accept any kind of excuses like, 'Well, we are pitching good, but we didn't score any runs,'" Cooper said. "No, man. Hang with them.
"You've got your own job to do to take care of. Everybody else has theirs. We are focused on what we need to do and taking responsibility for everything that happens in that game."
Cooper added that everyone knows how tough Friday's loss was without anything being said. The goal is continuing to repeat a starting performance close to Sale's and giving the White Sox another chance for victory.
"On the bench last night, I told Chris, 'Great job, dynamite job, gem. Now we get ready for Minnesota five days from now.' I told him that on the bench," Cooper said. "It's always a game of next. It's always the next pitch for the hitter, not the last pitch.
"It's always the next hitter, the next inning, the next game. It's a game of re-focusing from next pitch to next pitch. Next hitter to hitter, game to game."
White Sox sign 27 players from First-Year Player Draft
HOUSTON -- The White Sox announced Saturday that they have agreed to terms with 27 of their 40 selections from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, including each of the top 11 picks.
That list includes shortstop Tim Anderson, who was selected 17th overall, and right-handed pitcher Tyler Danish, taken at No. 55 in the second round. Anderson and Danish both came in at their recommended slot bonus of $2,164,000 for Anderson and $1,001,800 for Danish. The hurler out of Durant High School in Florida already has created quite a buzz around the organization for his soon-to-be-tapped potential.
"Sometimes we break down guys and we try to look at arm action. We try to look at size and all this other stuff," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann. "At some point in time, you say to yourself, 'This kid can flat out pitch.'
"That's how we felt about him. We had a lot of discussions about him. We looked at films. We did everything we could possibly do and finally just said we are going to go with it."
Two additional Draft picks, Danny Hayes (13th round, Oregon State) and Adam Engle (19th round, University of Louisville), are participating in the College World Series.
Third to first
• Alejandro De Aza returned to Saturday's starting lineup after missing Friday due to a stomach ailment.
• According to Elias, Sale became the third pitcher in the last 100 years to lose a game while striking out at least 14 batters and allowing no earned runs. The other pitchers were Jim Scott of the White Sox, with Scott fanning 15 but losing, 2-0, to the St. Louis Browns on June 22, 1913, and Cleveland's Sam McDowell, who struck out 14 but lost to the Angels, 2-0, on July 6, 1968. Despite making just 41 career starts, Sale has games of 15, 14, 13, 12 and 11 (twice) strikeouts.
• The White Sox have a 6-17 record in series openers this season.
• With 916 quality starts since 2003, the White Sox trail only the Angels (917) during that time frame in that category across Major League Baseball.