Athletics 6, White Sox 4: No cover for bullpen collapse

As the White Sox saw a 3-0 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit after four, and went from tying the game in the top of the fifth to trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the inning, it looked like the brunt of the blame would fall on the pitching staff, and Rick Renteria’s handling thereof.

Renteria’s plan to use Dane Dunning and Garrett Crochet through the first third of the game died when Crochet departed with the dreaded forearm tightness one out into the second. He struck out both batters he faced, but his velocity had dipped to 96 by his last fastball.

By the time Evan Marshall, Yasmani Grandal and first-base umpire Marvin Hudson conspired to let four straight A’s reach base after two outs in the fifth, Rick Renteria had used seven pitchers who had combined to issue eight walks. He needed just one pitcher to deliver an easy inning to get his bullpen management back on track, and that pitcher didn’t show up until Jimmy Cordero of all people threw a 1-2-3 inning on nine pitches in the seventh.

Nevertheless, the White Sox offense had a chance to turn this game into a proper slugfest, but the big hits dried up. They went 3-for-14 with 12 stranded. José Abreu twice grounded out with a chance to put a dent on the scoreboard, once with the bases loaded in the second, and an even costlier double play with two on and one out in the eighth, when Joakim Soria looked like he wanted to walk him. Eloy Jiménez couldn’t get a run home from third with one out in the first, and Adam Engel duplicated Abreu’s Game-2-ending groundout off Jake Diekman in the seventh, a 1-0 fastball scalded at 110.1 mph, but right to the second baseman.

Neither pitching staff covered itself in glory, but the A’s made the White Sox hit themselves on and in. The Sox did the former (12 hits), but not so much the latter. There were enough opportunities to get two more runs out of this game to the very end, when James McCann led off with a single against Liam Hendriks, who threw 49 pitches the day before. But Hendriks struck out the side to dash the White Sox’s hopes once more for the road, this time ending the season.

As for Renteria, his decision-making faced two different tipping points. He could have stuck with Dunning to see if he could strand two baserunners with two outs in the first, thus giving the Sox to have less ground to cover if and when Crochet’s elbow gave out. But when Crochet struck out the two batters he faced, it seemed to validate the quick hook.

He just couldn’t find the one pitcher to buy an inning. Aaron Bummer labored over the course of his three outs, allowing a hit and a walk and throwing just half his 22 pitches for strikes. Codi Heuer, coming off a scoreless September, gave up a two-run homer to Sean Murphy that got the A’s back in the game with two outs in the fourth, setting up the second tipping point.

In came Carlos Rodón, out of the bullpen, but with the bases clear. If he gets one out, he might be able to handle the fifth, and maybe the sixth. Instead, he walked lefty Tommy La Stella, then gave up a ringing double to Marcus Semien that somehow didn’t score La Stella. With first base open and needing Rodón to face a third batter, Renteria called for the intentional walk, then called for Matt Foster.

The thinking was simple — he trusted Foster more than Rodón. But Foster betrayed that trust by walking home two runs and giving Oakland the lead. He eventually ended the miserable inning with a flyout, but after 12 pitches and just three strikes, the damage was done.

Perhaps Renteria should have let the veteran Rodón try to escape his own mess, but Rodón also hadn’t shown any reliability all season, whereas today was the first time Foster actually looked like a rookie. It was a hard game for Renteria to manage, and by defraying the blame to all sorts of pitchers, he put himself at the center of it.

However, when Marshall dusted himself off and threw a scoreless sixth, and Cordero and Alex Colomé worked without issues in the seventh and eighth, the offense’s failures stole some of the spotlight. In the end, the end of the White Sox’s season was a total team effort.

Bullet points:

*Luis Robert gave us one more jaw-dropping moment, blasting a 487-foot homer off Mike Fiers.

*Marshall should’ve been able to end the sixth on a checked swing by Murphy, but Hudson didn’t see his bat crossing the plate. Grandal then committed a catcher interference, and his inning went downhill from there.

*The A’s stranded 12 runners themselves.

*Before Nomar Mazara struck out to end the game, he was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and a walk. He just couldn’t quite redeem his season.

*Jiménez also doubled, but he aggravated his foot as he ran the bases to second. James McCann replaced him.

*Listen to the three-headed postgame show below, starting at 7 p.m. CT:

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Series: Oakland wins 2-1 | Box score | Statcast

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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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MrStealYoBase

The rational part of me knows that the pitching just wasn’t there this year to win the world series. They needed Keuchel to be good to win this series but choosing between the rookie with 7 career starts and the guy who is more likely to walk 6 hitters than get 6 strikeouts for a 5 or 7 game series was not going to end well.

But it still hurts that the season is over. There was a lot of good to take out of this year and this team is a ton of fun to watch. James McCann and Alex Colome are the only potentially significant losses and they should be back stronger than ever and with another year of experience under their belts.

First winning season since 2012. First playoff games since 2008.

Thanks Jim and co. for making following this team even better.

andyfaust

At what price would you be okay with bringing back Colomé? A year ago I never would have considered this a possibility but as evidenced today, some dependable bullpen arms will be needed and he really was excellent this year.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

It’s not so much price I’m concerned but contract length. 2 years sure, 4 years probably not.

youhadmeatabreu

I think we will miss Colome a lot. His stuff is not electric but he has the ability to get outs without his best stuff, something sorely needed today. It might not look pretty but he has the mentality for a closer. Not sure about any of our young guns.

metasox

The Sox have other areas they need to put that money into though.
Who is the mostly likely internal closer option? Bummer? Heuer?

andyfaust

It has to be Bummer, but I’d love to see a full season in 21 of of bummer in the 8th and Colomé in the 9th.

But yes I would have to agree with your first point; if money is finite, which we know it is, starting pitching and corner OF would probably be prioritized.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

And for the 99th time out of the last 100 seasons the Sox finish the season without winning a playoff series.

The holes in the roster remain largely the same as they were going into this season and there are now ‘financial pressures’ so it should be…interesting how they approach DH, RF, and rotation depth.

At least we know the baseline level of talent is better than it’s been in the past decade.

GrinnellSteve

I’m surprisingly unaffected by the loss. It was a massively fun season. A lot of the kids showed up, and it’s not unreasonable to expect improvement next year. The off-season needs are pretty well defined. I’m ready for the World Series to end so Rick can get down to business. I’m ready for the pandemic to end so I can watch this team in person.

Today sucks, but thanks Sox. And thanks to all the writers and commenters on Sox Machine. You all made following my favorite team that much better.

LuBob DuRob

Hear hear!

roke1960

My thoughts exactly, Steve.

asinwreck

I thought Renteria managed pretty well this series, all things considered. Once Keuchel had a rough start, the options for today were pretty dicey, Once Crochet had to come out of the game, putting Bummer in in the 2nd was a bold attempt to get the same kind of production at the expense of later on in the game. My quibble was with putting Rodón into a high-leverage situation when he’s shown no ability to be trusted this year. But the options were already not great. Maybe next year he gets some regular-season practice using openers to normalize such a game for the staff. But I thought he did better at managing his options than Melvin did. (Or Jayce Tingler in San Diego, who left Kyle Davies in too longer in an elimination game, and Davies only pitched two innings.)

For a losing series, this wasn’t crushing to me. After a humiliating opener against the Cubs, the offense got better to close the season. Eloy looked great in his two at bats. He just wasn’t healthy enough to have more at bats. Did that make Abreu more desperate to generate offense? I think so. Anderson, Robert did legendary things at the plate, and Engel and Mazara were pretty good as well. Moncada looked sharp even though he got robbed a couple times.

dwjm3

He is a mediocre manager. He managed this game in a pure panic fashion. I was fine with a quick hook for Dunning but using 7 pitchers by the fifth inning is insane.

I don’t doubt that some of our pitchers struggles today were partially because Ricky’s sense of panic spilled over to them. Ricky should not be the manager during our window of contention but I don’t doubt he will be.

LuBob DuRob

If the players are ‘panicked’ because they are being called on to pitch, that’s on them.

dwjm3

Guys are going to press when they see a manager using a quick hook like that. The competitor in them doesn’t want to get pulled so they start pressing.

Ricky set the tone right out of the gate with this game and it was basically I think we are surviving by a sliver so I’m going to throw everything I can at this game.

You can’t use seven pitchers in five innings. That isn’t a new school approach that is looney tunes stuff.

We got a taste down the stretch and in the playoffs how Ricky manages pressure. It was not a good look.

asinwreck

I’ll add that he also showed sound judgment keeping EE on the bench in Game 3, using the two-catcher lineup in Game 2 (and, after Eloy came out, Game 3). Some managers would ride or die with a veteran, but EE is now unplayable. Putting Mazara in the Game 3 lineup was based on recent evidence, and was rewarded accordingly. Renteria managed with an understanding of his talent’s current abilities. I can’t ask more than that.

andyfaust

I’m hesitant to call for rickys head over this series but he deserves no credit for benching EE. Helen Keller would’ve correctly made the same decision. And Mazara should’ve started game 2 as well. I’m on record saying so beforehand.

asinwreck

I have flashbacks to Gene Lamont throwing a cooked George Bell out, so I am grateful that Edwin stayed on the bench. I don’t even want to think how Robin Ventura would have used him.

andyfaust

If moncada is somewhere between his 2019 form and 2020s covid-maligned body of work going forward , he’ll be fine.

I’ve been in Rodón’s corner ever since his injury troubles began a few years back and I can say definitively, I am ready to move on. Another first rounder to toss on the pile of broken toys.

Roberts floor is pretty high so I know his extension will almost certainly pay off. And as I mentioned in the last thread, I’m also ready for the inevitable decision of making Eloy the full time DH. That way they can target a rf OR a lf. Lots of clubs will be in on Springer so they need to have more options, my preference being Michael Brantley on a 2year to play in left.

I wish grandals famous framing came into play a little more today, but he’s more or less what I expected this year.

Thanks to jim josh Ted and Greg patrick and anyone else involved here at soxmachine. By the way, I’ve just discovered the sox machine pint glasses are great for drinking whiskey too. Who knew?

shaggy65

MIchael Brantley is exactly what this team needs. He’s a genuinely good LH hitter who crushes RH pitchers and can actually stay in the game against LHers. He and Eloy can split LF and DH starts 50/50 since both are a little prone to injuries.

Springer would probably be a bit better, but his righty bat doesn’t directly address our weaknesses quite as well.

John SF

I’d be down for Brantley on a 2 year deal as long as we also sign Joc Pederson to platoon with Engel. That’s the most obvious signing imaginable and I will be mad if they don’t make it.

dwjm3

George Springer is better option than a platoon.

mikeyb

Not sure where you would use Rodon if not with nobody on and 2 outs against a lefty, though.

itaita

Was a really fun season so i cant even be that mad. Even moreso when this game was so goofy in the pitching just totally losing the strike zone. Funny enough i missed the really bad innings cause i had to walk up to the bank before it closed. But at the same time i knew how it unfolded when i walked past a persons house and heard the guy inside yell “RODON YOU USELESS C*NT” Really sucks about Crochet though. Heres hoping its just a fatigue type thing but thats just being optimistic.

Maybe if we’re lucky next opening day we can have fans enjoy the team in person!

Oh and at least the Sox won a game unlike the Indians and Twins. Now the A’s just need to get rid of the Astros.

lastof12

I missed the 4th & 5th too because I was at the bank. Nice doing business with you.

I enjoyed the season, but the way the Sox finished left me unsatisfied. I was hoping for one playoff series to win. Perhaps to make up for 15 years without one. Offseason, here we come again…

Alister

I’m not sure in a regular season, a real regular season, we would be seeing the White Sox in the post-season. I’m glad Abreu has a post season stat line. And I’m glad the younger players got some experience.

“Reinsdorf is cheap!” can have some anti-Semitic overtones and I don’t like it. But neither is he the type to just spend his way out of a problem the way he certainly should with a world class basketball team/brand. And he also generally doesn’t do it with his supposed real passion, his baseball team. So, if the White Sox small-sample-size-lucked their way deep into the post season it I fear it would give ownership incentive to stand pat where the team is sorely in need of depth and bigger talent.

carbiner

I had fun watching this game and the end of the last one; can’t really blame Renteria for 4 (5?) walks and a catcher’s interference in two innings; if anything I think Renteria outmanaged Melvin for the past two and only had the one glaring error in the first game. All Melvin had to do was leave Wendelkin in for a few more innings and then not give the ball to the closer who was dumb enough to throw fucking Luis Robert 3 fastballs in the strike zone (in a game where he hit a 500 ft homer) and got lucky. All in all it just felt like the randomness of baseball was rearing its ugly head; we could’ve easily scored 8 or more and the A’s easily could’ve scored 10+; pretty good game by the Umps though, for once.

Seems highly unlikely that we would beat the Rays, let alone the Dodgers in a 7 game series; can’t win with two starters; on that point lets get free agency started. If it’s still 16 teams we’re going to be in the postseason for 5+ years; just need the coinflips and dicerolls to break our way a few times and good to go.

Announcers were terrible for all the reasons people said they were terrible, I just didn’t find them particularly annoying until today; they also defended themselves for being terrible with terrible reasons.

bennett32

I haven’t really commented this season, but I just want to say thank you to Jim and the Sox Machine team for all their hard work. Sox Machine (and SSS before it) helped me get through some lean seasons, so it’s been great to follow along this year with a really exciting Sox team.

Yolmer's gatorade

It was a season worth having and a team worth following even if the final outcome was not what we all wanted. They had many great moments, and they played hard to the end. You can’t ask for much more.

The offseason should be interesting, and I am thinking some about my offseason plan. Colome and McCann have been great with the Sox, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep them on the team or if paying them will price them out of building in other areas. They definitely need another starter and a left handed outfielder, but I think Vaughn will be up to take over first base/DH duties sooner rather than later.

Thanks to Jim, Josh, and company for a great season! Onward and upward. Go Sox!

peanutsNcrackerjack

Thanks Jim and Josh. It’s been a lot of fun this year.
Lots to talk about going into next year. First thing that I hope is done is to have a thorough medical examine performed on Yoan Moncada. The virus is no longer in his system, but it appears to have caused lingering damage. It is disturbing to see a young fit athlete so fatigued after short baserunning sprints.

shaggy65

If you had offered me this exact season 3 months ago I would have signed on ecstatically.

Can’t wait to get down with O.P.P.!

lifelongjd

First off great season by both the Sox and the Sox Machine staff. Literally have read at least daily, if not 2-3 times. Both teams were truly entertaining and should be proud.

After the last out, I wanted to blame Rick Renteria for over thinking/managing the pitching, but I think he did a fair job with what he had on hand. Crochet getting hurt (god I hope it’s not serious) and Rodon not fulfilling his side of things (yet again) put major stress on the staff. All your I can do as a manager is put people in situations where they can succeed and win, and he did that. We just fell short by a couple big hits.

Great season. I hope next year is even better. I think with additions like an OF like Brantley and a SP like Bauer, and we’ll be celebrating a WS title.

mikeschach

Thank you all for making a fantastic season ever more enjoyable. And thank you White Sox for timing the great run to coincide with my eye surgery so I could listen to yesterday’s win while flat on my back. Exceeding expectations is so much more fun than meeting low ones or under-performing.
This site, on the other hand, is so consistently great, that exceeding expectations can’t really come into play.
Thanks again – looking forward to hope springing eternal

knoxfire30

Rick Renteria has no business ever managing a game of importance again, like ever. The sox in their infinite wisdom will likely have him locked up to a ten year deal in secret by the end of business today though so there isnt much sense in beating that dead horse . The best bet is to try and flood this team with so much talent that they can over come having the worst tactical manager in baseball.

By my count EE, Mazara, Colome, McCann, Cishek, Gonzalez, Rodon, Garcia, Herrera, come off the books to a total of about 62.5 mil. Factor in about 12.5 mil in raises via arb or already signed contracts and that puts the sox at 50 mil in money to play with without even raising payroll.

Of the above players a strong case can be made to bring Colome back, has there been a less appreciated whitesox player in recent memory? He has done the job at closer and if he is willing to sign say a 2 year 24mil type deal maybe a 3 for 30 I think you have to try and bring him back.

That leaves 38 mil to address RF, Front line SP, a back end SP, and possibly backup C. Gotta figure Vaughn easily picks up the DH/1B role , and some bullpen reinforcements are already in the wings to take over for dead weight the sox have cut free. Can 2 of Kopech, Cease, Lopez, Dunning, Stiever suffice as at least a mid to back end rotation piece(s)I think so but in the playoffs you need that knockout top of the rotation guy. Fans will clamor for Bauer and why not there is a lot to like but Stroman may also be a free agent target to keep an eye on.

oldtimer

Knoxfire, I agree with you almost 100%. I’d be looking for one frontline SP either via trade or FA. Preferably FA. I’d roll the dice with Cease, Lopez, Rodon, Dunning and Stiever to fill our #4 & #5, with Kopech doing a very slow ramp up in the minors. Perhaps a mid-season promotion so we don’t break him?? I now fear the worst with Crochet. Also, you are more plugged in than most. Am I dreaming this or did someone in authority comment that Rutherford turned the corner in Schaumberg for the better?? Would love to hear more about that unless of course my aged brain is making this up!

knoxfire30

I cant remember if it was Chris Getz or someone else over looking Schaumburg but they did name the “most improved”, or “surprise player that has improved the most” guy as Blake Rutherford. I’ve never liked Rutherford never was sure what the sox saw in him as a no pop future corner outfielder but reports are saying he has tapped into his power…. color me skeptical but it would be a real nice development if true. I still think the sox bring in a lefty RF bat no matter what.

mikeyb

I’m not sold on Vaughn as a bat only guy when he’s more of a doubles hitter than home run hitter, but if him at DH is our biggest offensive concern next season, things will be looking pretty darn good.

knoxfire30

Most sources have him at 65 rating for power so I would say he is a doubles AND home run type hitter.

As Cirensica

It was fun. Definitely. We were supposed to improve, not to win, and we made it to the play off. My only quibbler was that I think Hahn didn’t provide Renteria the best roster to succeed in the playoff. Rodon had no business being in the roster. Detwiler or Lopez would have been better options. And Zack Collins? Another player I wouldn’t have included in the roster. Collins has no business in the majors.

Now it comes the off season, and even though it is early to start off-season planning. From the current players coming off the book, I would try to keep Colome and McCann. The rest can go. Hahn should go after a RF, a starting pitcher, and probably one high leverage reliever.

HallofFrank

There are always going to be “what ifs” for this sort of game, but the big one for me, and the one out of Renteria’s control, is Crochet. The bullpen management was always going to be a bit chaotic, but this just took it to another level. It really just felt like it knocked everything out of sync. Bummer had to come in in very odd circumstances and I wonder if it is part of the reason he wasn’t sharp—it certainly didn’t help. And every other pitcher, same story. If Crochet gets a clean 2nd (and 3rd?) and Renteria can set up the bullpen in a more, erm, calm way, it just *feels* like it would have had a major impact.

Of course, who knows. And you’ve still got to find a way to win through adversity. It’s not like the Sox didn’t have chances. It was pretty disappointing to see this offense only score 10 runs in 3 games with as bad as the A’s pitching was.

Anyway—I’m hoping for the best for Crochet. He was so fun to watch this year.

lifelongjd

Renteria panicked. It would have been awful if the Sox were protecting a 2 run lead in the late innings as he used up his high leverage guys in the 3-5 innings. Either way, the hitters couldn’t get a big hit and the pitchers seemed out of sync, so it bailed him out.