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While I ranked the top 10 White Sox winners last week, I still can’t summon much of an appetite for putting their worst losses in any particular order. For one, there are a bunch of different ways to please a crowd with a victory, while disappointment feels like it can only be dropped into one of so many bozo buckets.
Also, the White Sox haven’t contended since I started doing this. There may come a time where, if the White Sox miss a postseason spot by handful of games, we may pick at some scabs to see the ones that cost them the most. As it stands, as long as there are 89 to 100 losses to choose from, leverage doesn’t really factor into it.
The good news? Since the White Sox only lost one game they led entering the ninth, the list is short on traditional bullpen meltdowns. Instead, the list places an unusual emphasis on pitching failures on the front end of games, or bullpen/defensive collapses in the middle innings.
Below are five categories collecting like losses that said something about the Sox this year in a reverse chronological order. Proceed at your own risk.
Jose Ramirez hadn’t played a game in a month, but that didn’t stop him from hitting a grand slam in his first trip to the plate, and a three-run homer in his second. This game was on national television.
Dylan Cease gave up five straight singles to open his afternoon, then gave up back-to-back homers starting off the third to close it out. In between was a mess, too.
The White Sox had all sorts of problems, from Dylan Cease getting rocked in the first inning, Eloy Jiménez crashing into Charlie Tilson on the warning track and nearly dislocating his elbow, Whit Merrifield hitting an inside-the-park homer courtesy of one of Ryan Cordell’s overly ambitious dives and a shutout by Glenn Sparkman.
Dylan Covey got knocked out with two outs in the first inning, and adding insult to injury, Ross Detwiler added two runs to his tab by allowing a three-run homer to the first batter he faced. The White Sox trailed 7-0 after one, and eventually 12-0 at one point.
Manny Bañuelos retired the first eight Red Sox he faced, then failed to retire any of the last 10 before Rick Renteria pulled him with two outs in the third. That turned a 1-0 White Sox lead into a 9-1 deficit. They also committed a couple of errors, which was the least of their problems.
Reynaldo López couldn’t get out of the first inning, throwing the first 42 of 185 pitches thrown by the White Sox. They did narrow a 6-1 game to 7-5, but Kelvin Herrera allowed all three inherited runners to score, along with one of his own. You may remember him committing the rare balk on an appeal play.
Lucas Giolito’s worst inning of the season came on the biggest in-season stage, as he walked three consecutive batters to fuel a five-run fifth. The White Sox walked nine overall.
The White Sox’ first capacity crowd of the season sees the home team give up seven runs in the eighth, partially because Herrera, pitching with a sore back, had nothing. But the Sox also opened the floodgates in spectacular fashion, with Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu teaming up for two errors on one play after Nicky Delmonico played a Rafael Devers wall ball correctly. His collection of the carom and throw to the infield limited Devers to a single, but Anderson fired it past Jose Abreu to undo Delmonico’s good job, and Abreu’s attempt to get Devers effectively turned it into a triple.
The most visually depressing game of the season. All the elements for low attendance were there — Rays visiting, midweek in April, and cold drizzle that delayed the game at one point for an hour and 39 minutes. Daniel Palka dropped to 0-for-25 on the season at the plate and had a miserable day in the field.
This is the game where Tim Anderson wiping his nose on Ji-Man Choi’s sleeve, so it wasn’t without value.
A few times this season, Rick Renteria’s proclivity toward bunting reached new and troubling heights. Toward the second half of the season, the squeeze became an automatic call with a runner on third and any one of a handful of different hitters at the plate, and some teams sniffed it out. In this case, here’s Renteria playing for a tie on the road one game after a 15-inning affair wore out his bullpen the night before.
The Phillies anticipated the squeeze bunt in that situation because the series before, Renteria tried squeeze bunts with consecutive hitters, and neither of them worked. With runners on second and third and nobody out and the Sox trailing by one, Leury García struck out, after which Jon Jay popped up his. It fell and he reached, but nobody could advance, and Jose Abreu ended up grounding into a double play.
For the second time in three days, Renteria calls for a sac bunt with runners on first and second while trailing by two in the late innings. The White Sox score the one run they were playing for, but they never scored the second. It’s not great that the White Sox doubled the league average on sac bunts, but the misreads of the run expectancy matrix while trailing exacerbated the issue.
The White Sox rallied from down 5-0 to send it into extras, took a pair of extra-inning leads, and still didn’t come away with the lead. Alex Colomé blew the a one-run lead in the 11th as his painful second-half regression dragged on, and when Ruiz tried to protect a two-run lead in the 12th, he instead retired only one of the seven batters he faced, giving up five lasers and plunking the other.
Renteria, facing the three-batter-minimum rule next year, uses five different pitchers to face five consecutive hitters, but the Sox still manage to blow a five-run lead in the eighth inning alone. The game ends on Jose Ruiz’s watch, as Renteria called for an intentional walk, and an unintentional walk ended it. Ruiz had a rough month. He had a rough six months.
The one they won
They needed 15 innings to score a fourth run, including two cracks against a center fielder who was pitching, to snap a four-game losing streak. If it’s any solace, this might be one of the games that got Gabe Kapler fired.