Orioles 3, White Sox 2: Ricky’s Boys hampered by Ricky

A potential game-winning rally is undermined by a nonsensical bunt call

Even though the White Sox demolished all hopes with their worst-ever start, they still have the capacity to frustrate.

Rick Renteria led the way tonight with what had to be his worst game of the year. He made odd choices even before the ninth inning, but he sealed the case with a nonsensical bunt call that ground a potential game-winning rally to a halt

The Sox were poised to take advantage of flawed Baltimore closer Brad Brach. Brach is tough on righties but vulnerable against lefties, and when he erred by walking Adam Engel with one out, the Sox had their top the order waiting.

Yoan Moncada showed the possibilities when he shot a single to right, advancing Engel to third. That put runners on the corners with two good chances — Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu — to cash in that run.

Then, on a 0-1 count, Renteria had Sanchez bunt — and a suicide squeeze at that. That meant when Brach threw a slider down and out of the zone, Sanchez had to try to get it into play, but he could only foul it off for strike two.

Guess what — Sanchez struck out. With the tying run still on third and two outs, Buck Showalter intentionally walked Jose Abreu because he had the opportunity to face Trayce Thompson for the 27th out. How? Well, Renteria subbed out Daniel Palka for Trayce Thompson in the ninth inning while trailing by a run.

Palka did fail to catch a routine fly earlier in the game by 1) playing really deep and 2) not breaking in, but usually defensive substitutions are made with protecting leads in mind. As it played out, the defensive sub was at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, and he struck out in an uncompetitive at-bat to end the game.

That wasn’t all Renteria did. He made suboptimal choices in the sixth as well. For instance, he had Hector Santiago intentionally walk Manny Machado with one out and nobody on base. Maybe it’s because Machado homered off him earlier in the game, or because Adam Jones homered off Santiago the batter before, but still, the odds of Machado not ending up at second base by himself were in the Sox’ favor. And then Machado got to second when Jonathan Schoop followed with a single.

Renteria then stuck with Santiago against lefty-killers Danny Valencia and Mark Trumbo., making matters even more confusing. Valencia popped out and Trumbo struck out looking, but there wasn’t any internal consistency in pushing Santiago through that sixth inning, because Trumbo had homered, too.

The Sox then squandered their first golden opportunity in the bottom of the sixth. Andrew Cashner’s third-time-through problems materialized with three straight hits — two ground-rule doubles sandwiching a single — to cut Baltimore’s lead to 3-2, and the Sox had runners on second and third with nobody out.

Showalter called for Mychal Givens against the Sox’ right-handed part of the order. Welington Castillo popped out, and stayed at home plate as Chris Davis caught the ball inside fair territory. Tim Anderson struck out and so did Engel.

When the seventh started, Omar Narvaez took over behind the plate, with Renteria ostensibly benching Castillo for not running it out. The benching was fine — Castillo made no effort, when all he had to do was jog to first since second base was occupied. However, if Renteria knew he was benching Castillo, I don’t get why he didn’t have Narvaez bat for Engel to give the Sox a shot at scoring the tying run there.

The White Sox lost despite doubling Baltimore’s hit total, 10-5. The Orioles just happened to hit three solo shots, while the Sox ran the risk of getting in their own way by keeping the ball inside the park, and kept doing so.

One more example of that: In the fifth, Engel singled off Cashner to left, but tried stretching it into a double and was thrown out by 20 feet. That one hurt, because Cashner didn’t retire any of the last six batters he faced, but he was able to get out of the fifth because Sanchez was cut down for the third out trying to score the tying run on Abreu’s double to left. It was an acceptable send by Nick Capra — the Orioles executed a perfect relay for the third out — but its effects were exacerbated by Engel’s TOOTBLAN earlier.

Bullet points:

*Santiago gave the Sox a quality start, even if he made three mistakes that turned into homers. That’s about what you can hope for at this stage.

*The Sox scored just two runs despite being 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Orioles scored three runs in spite of being 0-for-3.

*Both bullpens had a nice night, combining for seven scoreless innings between the two.

Record: 13-31 | Box score

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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PauliePaulie

Tim Anderson:
BABIP related bad luck?
High GB rate and soft/medium contact red flags?

35Shields

His xwOBA (.305) suggests its soft contact. One way that he’s been cutting down on strikeouts is by making more contact on pitches outside the zone. I’m guessing that’s what’s driving some of his poor contact.

krushcuts

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, but they sure do get benched a lot for not legging out routine plays.

metasox

The Palka switch seems especially strange, but it appears from the game logs that he was pulled after 6 the last two times he started in RF. So maybe pulling him is the standard regardless of situation. Doesn’t make sense to me.

zerobs

Mostly agree, though I can see pulling him in a one-run game just to keep it close rather than let bad defense make the gap larger.

The Wimperoo

I am starting the dump Trayce bandwagon. All riders are welcome.

If this season is about development then let’s see Charlie Tilson. If he OPSs more than .429 (Thompson’s), it is a win.

gibby32

Right now, the only thing Tilson would provide is not being the guys who currently aren’t very good. After a couple of weeks, Tilson would be the guy who isn’t very good. If you’re not promoting Jimenez, you’re just swapping out equivalent pieces at this point.

metasox

Tilson is an actual prospect. Unless he is somehow still “broken,” we will get a look at him at some point.

gibby32

He is marginal. But even if he is “an actual prospect”, he didn’t play for an extended time before this year (a year and a half or two) because of injury, and is currently hitting 220 in AAA. He needs more time to get his feet under him. The notion that there is always someone better in the minors than the guys who suck here is counter-productive.

metasox

Though I haven’t seen a report on exactly where he stands (and if there is any long-term consequence of the injury), I don’t think anyone is saying to rush him back. But he should be viewed on a different level from Thompson and Engel.

Steinscribe

That could happen or he could come up and produce. Unexpected production can happen. Just look at Yolmer. This year should be about cycling in options and seeing what sticks. I’m all for giving Tilson the next run.

gibby32

Players need development time. If he’s hitting 220 in AAA, it makes no sense to see if he can come up with “unexpected production” in the majors.

The Wimperoo

Tilson trending upward in May(.276).

metasox

He is making plenty of contact, even if not the best contact. If he is healthy, I don’t think it will be long before we get another look at him.

zerobs

I didn’t see the game. Normally I’d give Ricky a pass on the bunts this year and maybe next, but this isn’t one of those times. I don’t like the suicide squeeze with the best hitter on the team on deck. If the OBP-challenged 8 and 9 hitters were up, it might be worth a shot.

I also don’t like the one run strategies when the bullpen is bad. If you had a shut-down bullpen like the 2015 Royals, it’s worth doing once in a while – this bullpen is going to make you wish you scored more than just 1 when you had the opportunity.

sgp2204

You can blame Ricky all you want (and he certainly deserves some of the blame), but not being able to put a run on the board with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs is absolutely ridiculous and 100% on the players. The fact that 2 of the 3 batters couldn’t even put the bat on the ball is a complete embarrassment. 

sgp2204

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse… Now 3 for 3 on batters that can’t put the ball in play.