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Based on a sample size of two starts, it seems like Davis Martin has a little bit of trouble settling into a start.
In his MLB debut against Kansas City on May 17, he survived a barrage of line drives in the first inning before a pair of doubles scored a run in the second. He kept KC scoreless the other three innings, so he could call it a success.
This time around, a better offense didn’t let him off the hook. He had a chance to sneak out of the first down only 1-0 after Ji-Man Choi’s one-out sac fly, but Harold Ramirez cashed in another run with a well-placed single through the middle, followed by a Randy Arozarena homer on an up-and-away fastball to give Tampa Bay all the runs it needed.
Again, Martin settled in and got into the sixth. He only struck out one, but he did a better job of avoiding barrels by leaning more on his secondary pitches the rest of the way. In fact, he ended up throwing more sliders (41) than fastballs (34), with all 11 whiffs coming on the breaking ball.
But unlike the Rays, who later scored two more runs in the seventh after two outs with a two-run double by Choi, the White Sox could not find the big hit. Sure, José Abreu homered, but it was only good for a solo shot that cut the Rays’ lead to 4-2 in the sixth.
Bigger opportunities didn’t yield bigger numbers. They had the bases loaded on Shane McClanahan with one out in the third, but could only score one run on a Yoán Moncada fielder’s choice. They had two on with one out in the seventh, but AJ Pollock grounded into a fielder’s choice and Andrew Vaughn struck out.
Then in the ninth, the Sox rallied off Shawn Armstrong, as Gavin Sheets, Vaughn and Moncada singled over the course of five batters to bring the tying run to the plate. Abreu fouled off a pair of center-cut cutters, but Armstrong bailed him out with a fastball that clipped his forearm to load the bases.
Up came Luis Robert, in came Colin Poche, and while Poche made a mistake with an 0-2 fastball, Robert could only foul it back. Another fastball a little higher ended it.
*Both teams went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but the White Sox stranded 11 to the Rays’ five.
*Yasmani Grandal was charged with an error on a throw that skipped past Danny Mendick and into center field, but it didn’t lead to a run. He later cut down a runner on a SHOTHO.
*Pollock’s fielder’s choice in the seventh inning was preceded by a taken strike one, during which a ball escaped Tampa Bay’s bullpen and rolled about 30 feet from the batter’s box. His pleas about the distraction fell on deaf ears.
*The Twins found a way to beat the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, so the Sox are now six back in the Central. Cleveland also won, so the Sox are in third by 1½ games.