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.
“If it’s any solace, this might be one of the games that got Gabe Kapler fired.”
Damn fine season if I say so myself.
I started the day all like this, but this post makes me feel like that.
It’s not all bad, though. Even aside from the Vince Velazquez game, being reminded that Lucas Giolito’s worst inning of 2019 was more like Lucas Giolito’s typical inning of 2018. Maybe what comes is better than what came before.
Did anyone catch Jason Benetti featured on CBS Sunday morning? I just flipped it on and I think I missed it.
Nevermind it’s on right now. 9:43am est.
Here’s the link.
I feel like there are loads of Bozo buckets: the comic, the tragic, the inevitable, the prospects find the hard part of the learning curve, the players being played out of their role, the refusal to adapt, the out-scienced, the we really should’ve paid some better guys to play the game…
Was anyone ever able to dig up length of term on Ricky’s super secret contract extension? Usually pretty hard to hide those things in the age of the internet, even for Rick Hahn…
Kind of underscores the need for starting pitching depth.
Watching the playoffs right now underscores the need for a true ace.
I’m trying to temper my excitement for the possibilities this offseason with the knowledge that they will certainly not take advantage of them.
“the White Sox haven’t contended since I started doing this.“
Margalus jinx. Finally something to blame.
I don’t understand why there wasn’t more interest in Colome at the trade deadline given the number of teams like the Phillies who basically screwed up their wildcard chances by having a garbage fire bullpen.
Colomé’s second half is why.
I get it, but he still only had 3 blown saves all season. The guy can get the final 3 outs.
I wanted to see how Bummer would do as closer over the last few months too.
Even with the 2nd half regression, bullpens across the league were straight garbage this year. Colome could have easily been one of the better relievers in every team’s bullpen this year.
I’m gonna go out and say that the FO were trying to get too much in return for a decent reliever they were trying to pass off as an elite closer.
The Phillies were more than an overperforming closer away from the playoffs.
Also, the issue wasn’t just what other teams wanted, it’s what Hahn wanted in return, which was probably more than any of them was willing to risk good prospects on. As Jim stated, nobody wanted to pay anything worthwhile for a guy whose peripherals suggested regression was going to smack him hard.
If Ricky keeps pulling this sac bunt bullshit in seasons where we should be competing, there’s gonna be an awful lot of fans who will rightfully say I told you so. While I think his bullpen management improved a little (and he’ll be forced to with the new three hitter rule taking effect next season anyhow), this is one area of the game where he just has refused to evolve despite the obviously awful results he keeps netting.
If Moncada, Anderson, Abreu, Jimenez or first-half McCann were ordered to bunt, then it was a bad move. With just about anybody else on this roster, it was not necessarily bad strategy. In many situations with our weaker hitters up, it was arguably the best move. It’s not like the manager was ordering Frank Thomas to put one down. Why get so upset about a popgun hitter like Yolmer being asked to bunt? He hit two homers all season.
As for the worst losses of the year, I would go for any of the four suffered in Kansas City right after the All-Star break. Those defeats ensured that we wouldn’t play any meaningful games in August, and they illustrated how far this rebuild still has to go. It will take a great offseason for us to contend in 2020, and I’m not sure if this front office can pull that off. Let’s hope Hahn and company at least get enough competent hitters so we won’t have to bunt as much next year.
He asked hitters capable of putting balls in ply to needlessly give up outs.
This is not something people should continue defending in 2019.
As another entry to the “Self-defeating Managing” section, I’d like to submit
Red Sox 6, White Sox 1. Jose Rondon Pitched.
Renteria pitches a position player in a five run ballgame with a full bullpen. Ricky’s boy might not quit, but he sure does.
Red Sox had a 99.4% Win Probability entering the 9th inning. Why burn a reliever in what is clearly a lost cause? Colome already ate up the 8th, Aaron Bummer had pitched two games prior to this one, Marshall pitched the day before and the next game had Manny Banuelos on the mound, meaning its pretty much a bullpen day (Banuelos didn’t get past the 3rd inning). This was not a full bullpen.
What about June 25th, Red Sox 6 White Sox 3–the one where they kept the game going in the rain and Tim Anderson was out for a month because of it?
I know that doesn’t fit the categories but overall that was a very depressing outcome.