Reds 5, White Sox 3: Another eighth-inning collapse

This time, Chris Volstad is the one unraveling in a high-leverage situation

The White Sox are starved for a competent right-handed reliever who isn’t Joakim Soria, or even Matt Davidson.

Chris Volstad, always an uninspiring choice for high-leverage situation, proved extremely hittable. Compounding problems, his defense failed him in spectacular fashion, and the Reds piled on four runs before he and Hector Santiago could record four outs. The result? The kind of loss that made the White Sox’ first-half grade an easy F.

Volstad was tasked with protecting a 3-1 lead, probably because after watching Juan Minaya walk the only batter he faced, followed by Luis Avilan surviving a 3-0 flyout by Joey Votto with the bases loaded to end the seventh, Rick Renteria wanted somebody who could throw strikes. The problem is that those strikes turned into a single and a double to put the tying run into scoring position. Volstad found some footing with a strikeout, but walked Jose Peraza after getting ahead 1-2, which loaded the bases.

Volstad got the grounder he wanted from Adam Duvall, who shot it to first base. Davidson — who replaced Jose Abreu, who fouled a ball off his ankle and aggravated it in the field later — gloved it, then started running toward first. His thought process wasn’t clear from his actions, but it was either he thought about stepping on first and firing home for a 3-2 double play, or thought about taking the ball to first before realizing he had time to get the force at home.

Either way, he fired the ball home while running toward first, so much so that his foot stepped on the bag after he released the ball. It was a good throw home and would’ve resulted in a force, except Omar Narvaez didn’t have a foot on the plate. He was angled to apply a tag, which he might’ve thought was necessary as Davidson ran toward first. Whatever the case, Davidson didn’t record the out at first, Narvaez didn’t get the out at home, and the Reds cut the lead to 3-2.

A sac fly tied the game, and Davidson’s attempt to cut off Adam Engel’s throw and get the runner at third didn’t work, and the initial ruling was upheld after the review. That mattered, because pinch-hitting Alex Blandino took an elevated Vosltad curveball the other way and sliced it into the right-field corner, giving Cincinnati a 5-3 lead.

White Sox pitchers have now allowed 14 runs over the last three eighth innings they’ve pitched.

Had the White Sox had any kind of bullpen depth, this game could’ve been a heartening victory. They trailed 1-0 heading into the seventh, as James Shields gave up a homer on his first pitch of the game and nothing after. The Sox finally solved Luis Castillo in the seventh. Adam Engel singled with one out, and after James Shields bunted him over, Jim Riggleman went to lefty Amir Garrett to turn around Yoan Moncada.

For once, that move didn’t work. Moncada roped a single into the left field corner to score Engel to tie the game at 1, and then he hustled home when Yolmer Sanchez’s smash to third deflected off third baseman Eugenio Suarez and into foul territory.

An inning later, Avisail Garcia muscled an opposite-field homer off Jared Hughes to give the Sox a 3-1 lead. Omar Narvaez then doubled, and even when Hughes departed for Dylan Floro, Tim Anderson strung together a third consecutive hit with a single up the middle. Narvaez stopped at third.

Maybe the game went awry when Renteria called for Engel to bunt on the first pitch. The safety squeeze didn’t work this time, as Engel stubbed it off home plate and gave Narvaez no chance to score. Charlie Tilson then bounced out to short to end the inning.

Shields’ start was bookended by bases-loaded jams. He issued a single and two walks after two outs in the first, but got Pereza to pop out. In the seventh, he departed after walking Scott Schebler to push Billy Hamilton into scoring position (Hamilton drew three pickoff throws, which might’ve contributed to the walk). Minaya then walked Tucker Barnhart on four pitches, and Avilan didn’t challenge Votto with a strike until his back was against the wall. Nobody could accuse Votto of not wanting to drive in runs, because he swung at a two-seam fastball over the center of the plate, but it died just short of the warning track in center.

Shields finished by allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.12. Sox pitching held the Reds to a 1-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position, but that one hit won the game.

Record: 29-55 | 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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Right Size Wrong Shape

I’ve been really critical of Narvaez’s defense this year, but I don’t think it’s fair to tag this Narvaez – misplay. With Davidson running to first, he had to think that it was going to be a tag play and he positioned himself as such. You could tell from his reaction that he didn’t realize that Davidson didn’t touch first until after the play.

ForsterFTOG

Probably because it was his fault.

sgp2204

100% Davidson’s fault

CincySoxFan

I was at the game and was watching home. It looked like he originally positioned with one foot on HP, then took it off once he saw Matt start to move.

PauliePaulie

The #3 pick shall not be denied.

Joliet Orange Sox

I know others have said it but I coming around to believe that there is a chance that the Sox will get something for Shields. It won’t be much of a prospect but it could be an actual prospect (i.e. someone worthy of taking minor league ab/ip away from other fringe prospects). I didn’t see this coming at the beginning of the season.

Trooper Galactus

I still think a guy like Tito Polo or Ti’Quan Forbes would be about the best we could hope for; a young player with some upside whose development has stalled in the minors. I’d say Shields probably has a value somewhere between what Robertson and MiGo did last year.

Jason.Wade17

I think it’ll be a AAA guy who is blocked and is moderately interesting. Someone from the Ryan Cordell or Charlie Tilson mold. From the Cubs, a Mark Zagunis or David Bote. From the Brewers, Brett Phillips, Probably also include some 23 yr old in A ball who throws 98, but can’t throw strikes.

Trooper Galactus

Cordell and Tilson were traded for relievers who were having solid seasons, had a lot less money owed them, and would be useful in a potential postseason. Shields is a back end starter who is owed several million and will likely be left off any playoff rosters. I don’t know that he has the sort of value that Duke or Swarzak had.

mikeyb

Is there any place that tracks how much teams bunt (or attempt to bunt)? Ricky has to call for it more than any other AL Manager, right?

lil jimmy

Note to Ricky,
Chris Volstad is the pitcher for when the horse is already out of the barn.

evenyoudorn

If the opposing team calls for a pinch-hitter and it’s a horse (or anything else without thumbs), then Rick is free to send out Volstad.

Lurker Laura

This sloppiness is excruciating. 

One of the problems is that our Plan Bs are so lacking (see: outfield starters of the past two months). If Abreu doesn’t leave the game, Davidson isn’t at first, and Jose probably makes the correct play. 

Foulkelore

Volstad was tasked with preventing a 3-1 lead

Well, he did his job.