CHICAGO -- Conor Gillaspie has had far better nights than his three-error effort during the Tigers' 9-1 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
The 26-year-old third baseman certainly will have better nights than what came through in the second of this three-game set. But with Gillaspie somewhere around 100 times worse on himself than any potential critic could be, this forgettable contest could resonate with him for more than just the evening.
"That's a little bit tough to deal with right now, obviously," said Gillaspie. "Honestly, I don't think I'm going to remember two days from now that it happened.
"Obviously, it was very difficult tonight, and I can honestly say that's probably the worst I've ever felt playing defense. I can't say that there's too many days where I'm kind of hoping, 'Hey I hope the ball doesn't get hit.' Tonight was one of those nights."
Gillaspie's first error came in the opening inning on a Miguel Cabrera at-bat that should have ended three pitches earlier. Rookie hurler Erik Johnson (0-2) appeared to have Cabrera struck out on a 1-2 fastball, but home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo thought differently.
Cabrera's grounder was slowly hit, but with injuries leaving the game's best hitter unable to run anything close to full speed, Gillaspie had more time to make the play than he thought. Instead, he tried to barehand the grounder and make the throw, only to throw it past first baseman Paul Konerko to allow Andy Dirks to score from second.
A two-out throwing error in the fifth by Gillaspie on Austin Jackson's grounder allowed Alex Avila to score from second, and he made a fielding error on Don Kelly's leadoff grounder in the seventh. Konerko was charged with the team's fourth error when he couldn't hang on to Gillaspie's throw up the line on Omar Infante's grounder in the third.
Robin Ventura's crew entered the night with the worst fielding percentage in all of baseball and did nothing to change that number. The quartet of errors from the White Sox (58-86) produced five unearned runs, and gave them 17 in their last 11 games.
Arguably the most fundamentally sound team in baseball during the 2012 campaign, the present version of the White Sox has an AL-high 108 errors. They allowed 30 unearned runs last year and have yielded 70 this season.
On Tuesday, it was Gillaspie who had to feel the brunt of this lost defensive season.
"Part of the thing with me is it's kind of a high risk, high reward sometimes," Gillaspie said. "Truthfully, I'm not afraid to dive for a ball or wear one off the chest. Unfortunately, that results in errors a lot of times. I would say lots of guys don't go for a lot of balls that I go for. It's one of those nights."
"I've had nights that were just like it," said Ventura, known for his Gold Glove defense at third during his playing days. "I know he's going to come back and effort and competitiveness, all that stuff's still going to be there. It would be one thing if he didn't care, but I know he cares a lot. He's going to have to get over it. He's a young player, it's not easy, but he's going to come back on it. Everybody has a night like that."
Johnson made his second Major League start and his first at U.S. Cellular Field, with the rookie right-hander and prized pitching prospect giving up six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three. Only two of those runs were earned, with Prince Fielder driving in both.
Fielder finished with four hits, including a two-out homer in the third that looked as if it could have put a dent in the right-field bullpen bar. The laser shot barely cleared the fence but went out quickly.
"I had some tough breaks out there, but I thought I attacked the zone as best I could," said Johnson, who added that it's up to him as a good teammate to pick up the miscues behind him. "I could have worked ahead of a few more hitters of course and put myself in a better situation."
Rick Porcello (12-8) earned the victory for the Tigers (83-62), fanning five in his first complete game. The one run came home on Gillaspie's single, scoring Konerko, in the fourth.
"We had a meeting before and everybody talked about coming together and finishing the season strong, and everybody played their butts off today," Porcello said. "We were able to capitalize on mistakes they made and played good ball."
Goalie Corey Crawford was one of the small but distinguished group representing the Blackhawks as they were honored at the ballpark Tuesday. The legion of Blackhawks fans should be thankful that Crawford's defense was far better in goal than the White Sox showed, or that ongoing Stanley Cup championship celebration never would have happened.
But Crawford had his fair share of rough nights, just like Gillaspie during a positive first full year in the Majors.
"If I wasn't human, it wouldn't ever happen," Gillaspie said. "I try to stay positive and hopefully not dwell too much on it and come back tomorrow and practice hard and go at it. It's all about doing your best out there and getting after it, and unfortunately, sometimes that doesn't work out for you. It didn't work out for me tonight."