The evaluation period brought mixed results Tuesday night for the White Sox.
Jim Thome moved closer to the 500-home run mark. Josh Fields made his first putout in left field. And Gavin Floyd weaved his way through six innings.
But the eighth inning was familiar and ugly for the Sox as they let a precious opportunity slip away in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers.
The Sox loaded the bases with no outs after Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch. But Juan Uribe hit into a force play on the next pitch and rookie Danny Richar grounded into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, reliever Mike MacDougal allowed a leadoff single to Michael Young, hurled a wild pitch and issued a game-winning hit to Marlon Byrd as the Sox lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.
"It's crazy," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We talk about our relievers, but every time we come up with people in scoring position, we get the worst at-bats we can get. It has happened day in and day out. When you do that, you're going to lose a lot. And we've been doing that."
The Sox failed to score after building a 3-0 lead on Paul Konerko's two-run homer in the first and Thome's solo shot. Thome's 494th homer moved him into sole possession of 23rd place on the all-time list ahead of Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff and behind Eddie Murray (504).
But the Sox lacked patience at the plate, and Guillen wasn't about to place the entire blame on Richar, who is auditioning for a starting job in 2008.
"He's a kid," Guillen said. "We got Uribe hacking at the first pitch also. You can't say anything. They should know the situation, the people they're going to face and give the best at-bat they can. They didn't do it."
Floyd blew a 3-0 lead and committed a throwing error on a double-play grounder in the fifth. His biggest asset was his ability to work out of trouble three times.
"He didn't hold the lead but threw well enough to win the game," Guillen said.
The Sox fell to 9-22 in games against left-handed starters, which will be a major topic in the off-season. Although left-handed-hitting catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn't start, he is under contract through 2008 and is aware of the trade reports Mark Buehrle and Dye endured before re-signing with the Sox.
"Is there a way it can be resolved?" Pierzynski said. "Yeah, if we can get something done before we have to go through all that. Everyone knows I enjoy it here and want to stay here. I like the organization, the coaches and the manager and general manager, so I think everyone knows that. It's not like it's a big secret. We'll see what happens."
Pierzynski's left-handed bat and durability add value, but he's still hopeful he can avoid free agency.
"The grass isn't always greener," Pierzynski said. "I've been in three organizations. I've had different experiences in all three. You want to stay with an organization for a long time, especially at a place you like.
"But if it doesn't work out, free agency is what has to happen. … If they want me back, they'll get me back. If they don't, hopefully I'll be able to find another place to play."