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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