Pirates 5, White Sox 4: Late-inning meltdown costly

Yasmani Grandal had a good moment in tonight’s game, hitting his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot, to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead.

The lasting taste after this game will be him dropping the ball from Jimmy Cordero. That mishap allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to come from behind late and steal a win against the White Sox, 5-4.

Rick Renteria’s decisions were working well until the eighth inning. Dylan Cease had a good start going with four scoreless innings and got into trouble in the fifth by allowing three straight hits that scored two runs. Renteria allowed Cease to try the sixth inning, but after a leadoff single, he pulled him for Codi Heuer. That call proved to be right because the young hurler kept the White Sox ahead, and Matt Foster followed up in the seventh inning striking out two in a scoreless frame.

Handing the ball off to Evan Marshall to serve as the bridge to Alex Colome is a sound strategy. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off. Marshall allowed back-to-back doubles to Kevin Newman and Jacob Stallings that cut the lead down to one run. Adam Frazier would move Stallings to third base with his groundout to second base. The pot was boiling for Marshall in trying to hold the lead.

With the infield drawn in, Erik Gonzalez singled through the infield to drive in the game-tying run. He then added extra pressure on the Sox by stealing second base on a bounced pitch and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Marshall eventually got the strikeout he needed by punching out Bryan Reynolds.

Colin Moran was next, and Renteria went to the bullpen for his only lefty, Ross Detwiler. Detwiler got the job done by getting Moran to ground out to first base in a tough at-bat. One that saw Grandal drop a pop up in foul territory reaching over the dugout guard rail.

Heading into the ninth, perhaps Renteria could have gone to Alex Colome, hoping that his closer could get the game to extra innings. With Gregory Polanco leading off, Renteria stuck with Detwiler. That move backfired as Polanco singled, and Josh Bell also singled on the first pitch putting runners on first and second with no outs. Desperately needing a ground ball in hopes for a double play, what Renteria saw was Grandal not placing a glove on a missed sinker from Cordero, resulting in a wild pitch. Now with runners moved up to second and third, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs hoping for a ground ball to get the lead runner out at home.

Sure enough, Cordero got that ground ball from Newman. It was a nibbler out in front of the plate that Cordero scooped to Grandal. What should have been an easy exchange was a costly error as the ball fell out of Grandal’s glove, losing the game and the chance to sit alone in first place.

Joining in the mixed results performance was Nick Madrigal. He swung the bat well but did a poor job of running the bases.

Entering the game with zero extra-base hits, Madrigal hit two doubles. The first in the fifth inning when it was a scoreless game. Tim Anderson followed up with a single to center field but was hit hard enough for third base coach Nick Capra to put up the stop sign. Instead, Madrigal ran through the stop sign and tried to score. Even though the throw was off-target, Stallings did an excellent job of corralling the ball and applying a tag on Madrigal in time for the out. There was a play review, but the league office didn’t have conclusive evidence that Madrigal touched home before being tagged.

With one out and the heart of the White Sox order coming up, that was a bad mistake on Madrigal’s part. Lucky for him, Yoan Moncada hit a hard single into the shift that Anderson was able to slide under the tag at home to score the first run. Next was Grandal, who hit his two-run homer.

Madrigal picked up his second extra-base hit in the ninth inning with a ground-rule double down the right-field line. A bit of bad luck as the ball bounced over the short wall in foul territory. If it hadn’t bounced over, Madrigal would have a shot of stretching it into a triple. Alas, the White Sox were in business with Anderson next.

Unlike the fifth inning, Anderson hit a grounder to Gonzalez at short. Instead of going back to second base, Madrigal made the ill-advised decision of heading to third base. It was an easy throw for Gonzalez, and Madrigal was tagged out for the TOOTBLAN. Moncada would strike out next to end the threat.

Game Notes:

  • Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a single in the eighth inning. He would come around to score from first off Eloy Jimenez’s double which then gave the Sox a 4-2 lead. Those were happier times. 
  • Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both went 2-for-5. 
  • Nomar Mazara almost hit his first home run with the White Sox in the ninth inning. Driving an outside fastball to deep left field but the big fly faded foul into the seats. That at bat ended in Mazara watching strike three. 
  • Dylan Cease was doing well through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth inning. His final line was 5 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 2 K. Cease has only struck out three batters in his last two starts spanning 10 innings. 
  • Cleveland lost to Kansas City, and Minnesota split a doubleheader with St. Louis. The Sox and Indians are still tied for the AL Central lead with the Twins 0.5 game back. 

Record: 26-16 | Box Score | StatCast

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the final two innings, Grandal dropped a pop-up, muffed a game-extending force at the plate, failed to catch a wild pitch that could have been ruled a passed ball and did not throw out a guy trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt that he could have handled better and had a quicker throw to second. And that’s not even taking into account what must have been atrocious pitch-calling against a pathetic lineup.

The staff ERA is significantly worse with Grandal catching this year than it is with McCann. I’m sure there is some advanced stat out there that will tell me my eyes are deceiving me when I see McCann being much better than Grandal behind the plate this year, but I haven’t found it yet.

Grandal was playing those final two innings like he wanted to get the game over with, no matter what the result. It was one of the worst two-inning stretches I’ve seen a Sox catcher have on defense.

I’m still mystified why Renteria, with a two-run lead, did not put Engel in for Mazara in the bottom of the eighth. I think Engel, with his speed and elite defensive ability, could have limited at least one of those doubles to single. If that happens, perhaps the inning changes a bit. Mazara seemed a step or two slow in the field all night. Renteria might have been counting on Mazara batting in the ninth, but why worry about who’s batting for you in the ninth when you have a two-run lead in the eighth? And it’s not like Mazara has hit a homer this season. It’s one more reason why Renteria’s not a very good manager. Managers who aren’t very good tend to blow games like this, as Ventura did so many times.

I don’t know what Madrigal was thinking, but I’m willing to cut the kid some slack given that he has only been playing at the MLB level for a few weeks. It’s not like he was signed to the biggest contract in team history or anything like that.


>The team goes on a long win streak, in the lead for the division
“Eh, it’s the players who are quality, anyone can manage them to a division lead”

>Starter can’t go past the fifth, catcher making numerous mistakes, bullpen overstretched, baserunners blowing past stop signs and getting picked off, only one good healthy starter on staff
“This is clearly Renteria’s fault”


For whatever reason, McCann has been a better catcher than Grandal this season. Much better. This wasn’t the first lapse filled game for Grandal either. McCann should be catching most of our games, His pitch calling is much better and Grandal’s framing hasn’t even been that great. It’s nowhere near where we were told it would be.

When we have a two run lead in the eighth, Engel should replace Mazara and, if Eloy just batted, Dyson should come in for Eloy,

Renteria likely will continue to have Grandal catch most of the games,, and he probably will avoid using Engel and Dyson. he also will continue using Cordero whenever possible, Will we have a bullpen still intact by the playoffs? stay tuned.


Grandal 1.2 f/war
McCann .9 f/war

No McCann hasn’t been “much” better and he no he shouldn’t be catching most of our games. I think you are over reliant on your eyeball test which fails you often.


Not sure war is fair comparison if Grandal has twice the plate appearances. Still think Grandal is better but it’s much closer than it should be in this small sample size. And too often Grandal’s play reminds me of that Dodger playoff game where he had 2 passed balls and 2 errors in one game. I’ve been a little disappointed in him, but he is starting to hit and I’ll chalk this negativity to the shock of losing to Pirates. We’ll get them today and all will be right again.


Baseball Reference has McCann at 0.9 WAR and Grandal at 0.3 WAR.

And for those who say McCann catches the better pitchers, consider this: The better pitchers will be pitching the biggest games this team plays this year and next. If they prefer to throw to McCann, then that should tell you something right there. Also, perhaps if the lesser pitchers threw more to McCann, maybe their ERAs wouldn’t be so bad. Overall, Grandal’s catcher ERA is 4.72. McCann’s is 2.66. No starting catcher should have that big of a deficit in that particular stat.

My eyes do not fail me: I have been watching White Sox baseball for almost 50 years, and Grandal last night might have had the worst two-inning stretch I have ever seen from a Sox catcher. (Not too many have dropped a pop-up and an easy toss at the plate in consecutive innings.) He also has had other stretches of defense this year that have been far from stellar.


A) F/war is considered a better metric for hitters and b/war is considered better for pitchers.

B) Considering you are not a scout and don’t have a trained eye of course your eyes fails you.

C) Nobody can recall 50 years of baseball vividly.


If you watched the game tonight, I hope you learned something, and you noticed who was behind the plate.


Nothing can be garnered from a one game sample size you whiz

Patrick Nolan

One important point on pitch framing stats this year (at least the ones produced by Baseball Prospectus). Due to the weirdness of this season, catchers often are working with the same home plate umpires repeatedly, and the model adjusts for umpire. So the model is having a tougher time determining which “extra strikes” are attributable to the catcher vs. the umpire. It’s probably best to take framing metrics with a grain of salt this year, both in terms of which catchers are good at it along with the magnitude of its value.

(Unless we’re now to believe Omar Narvaez has been the most valuable framer in the major leagues)


Its crazy how the guy who has been mostly catching Giolito and Keuchel appears to be a better defensive catcher than the guy who has been catching Cease, Lopez, Gonzalez….


Ha. Good point. Giolito pitching makes a lot look better.


Grandal caught Giolito in the opener, and it was a disaster. Giolito looked lost out there.

Last year, Grandal’s catching ERA was 4.62. The Brewers’ team ERA was 4.40. So, this isn’t anything new.


This was one of the more frustrating watches this season, even before the bottom of the 9th.

* Both Eloy and Mazara casually played singles that turned into hustle doubles. Enough with the double pump Eloy. That’s vintage ’19. Nobody’s scared of your arm.

* Don’t understand pulling Cease. Yes he stumbled but started strong, on low pitch count and pen still taxed.

* Madrigal. Love the two baggers but yeesh on the baserunning X2.

* Yasmani. Runner took second on the casual pitch block and then the foul drop and then….

Yeah very winnable game. I guess we’re banking on Gio tomorrow?


* Don’t understand pulling Cease. Yes he stumbled but started strong, on low pitch count and pen still taxed.

Last time Renteria let Cease have a long leash, everyone dabbed on him.


How aggressive do you have to be to run through a Nick Capra stop sign?


Biggest negatives:
– Madrigal’s baseball IQ isn’t all it was cracked up to be. “Don’t make the first out at home” and “Don’t advance when the ball’s hit in front of you” are two basic rules. He’ll learn, but he was supposed to be MLB-ready from the start.
– The Eloy Slow Throw. He’s strong enough and accurate enough to have an average arm, if only he wouldn’t hold the ball for a full second before throwing it. Never before have I cared about a left fielder’s “pop time”.

Biggest positives:
– Madrigal’s strong contact. These balls should force opposing outfielders to play him honest, which just opens up the field for more bloop singles.
– Mazara’s positive contact. He’s been working on his oppo swing all season and it keeps getting better. It feels like he’s on the verge of a break-out.
– Moncada’s positive contact. Tonight’s hard-hit singles are a good indicator that Yoyo is getting his heavy bat back
– Abreu is having fun. I didn’t mind Jose’s playful fall into the net (and advancing baserunner) because Pito is enjoying baseball again. One of my favorite things about this season is how happy he is being around all these kids and being on a winning team.


Really see how big a loss Bummer is in a game like this and how it still seems extremely surprising a team going to the post season for the first time in 12 years doesnt at a minimum add a bullpen arm or two at the trade deadline.

Madrigal’s base running mistakes are the once a year type mistakes and he made two in the same game… JFC

I love the Mazara home run watch 42 games in, is now about balls he hits far foul.

Gotta put that one behind us fast, go get a win today. Treat the pirates like the door mat team they are.


I’m putting that dropped ball on Cordero. He could / should have flipped it up to Grandal’s body to make it an easy catch. Trying a backhand low scoop with a catcher’s mitt? I don’t think many catchers could have caught that to be honest.


It looked to me like both players were treating it like a tag play instead of the force that it was.


Yeah, I couldn’t understand why Cordero threw the ball at Grandal’s feet with a runner sliding in. There is blame to go around on that play.

As Cirensica

It was as if 2019 mode was on. Ugh. Let’s just forget about it. Two things I noticed:

1) Renteria does not seem to be able to pull Mazara or Eloy in the late innings for better fielders. That can be costly in short series (like a playoff) in games with a small lead in the late 2 innings or so.Why having Dyson and Engel if Renteria is incapable to use theme properly.

2) Jimmy Cordero is not an effective reliever anymore. I am not sure if it is because over usage. Since August 29, Cordero has thrown 5.1 innings, has faced a whopping 29 hitters, 10 hits (2 homers), for a total of 7 earned runs. That yields an unhealthy ERA of 12.35. It is a short period, and maybe Cordero can recover, but for the time being, I would use Cordero more sparingly and in not so high leverage situations.


This entire game was sloppy, start to finish. Making outs on the basepaths. Lackadaisical defense. Even though it didn’t result in any harm, no mention of Abreu casually flopping into the net allowing a baserunner advance to second for absolutely no reason. It seems to me that everyone mentally checked out for this game because its the Pirates and we are in first place. Hopefully they got it out of their systems because we can’t afford this kind of game the rest of the season (I get that we are highly likely to go to the playoffs but we have a shot at the division crown, asterisk be damned).


Have to have short memory and forget about last night’s wasted opportunity to gain ground. In the big picture, W Sox haven’t blown too many this year, so I’ll give ’em a pass, but can’t afford too many of these. 18 games left and obviously need to load up on today’s Pitt and next three with Det. Everyone on this site knows that the whole season will boil down to how they do in the 8 games with Minn and Cleve. If they can’t handle those two next week, they’re probably not going very far anyway.
I understood the plan on acquiring Mazara, but have to grade his performance as a D-. IMO, Mazara doesn’t produce anymore than Palka did last year (need to look it up). For the final two weeks, I’d play Engel as much as possible and look for an alternative to Mazara for 2021 and beyond (Mike Yaz, anybody?).
As for the pitching, Ricky R’s almost nightly use of Cordero frustrates me. After Marshall’s first 2 batters, he could have been removed? But I’ll give Marshall a pass on last night as he has been almost stellar for a long time. I really felt (not 20/20 hindsight) that there was no reason Marshall needed to be brought in that early as Foster was untouchable and IMO could have faced a few more batters. For that matter, I thought Heuer could also have went deeper and I blame RR for his bullpen mgt. It amazes me that a pitcher can come in, retire the side on about 10 pitches with minimal contact and then be out of the game for the next inning. I call over-managing, but it seems all teams do it.
As for the rebuild, this year is a plus-plus and grass looks very green for 2021 and beyond. But we’d all like to see them get a taste of postseason success this year. I’m looking for 3 out of 4 vs. both Minn and Cleve. A split may or may not be enough. So let’s hope for 18 games that Ricky R doesn’t rely on Cordero nightly, lets Engel’s glove replace Mazara, and has McCann behind the plate a little more often.

As Cirensica

The Mazara’s trade value was supported by a “if everything goes right and has a breakout” philosophy which has sunk the White Sox ship so many times in the past. I say it was an unnecessary risk, as his current performance was written in the wall already. Mazara is on pace to, somehow, produce a fWAR between 0 and 1. Something he has done year after year since been called up.

I hate when the White Sox make decisions on “what if” scenarios rather than going for tangible and predictive production like they did with Keuchel and Grandal. It leaves the team unnecessarily vulnerable. Fortunately, the White Sox have been good and Mazara shortcomings are shielded a bit.At this juncture, I will not tender him next year. Same problem as with Yolmer, Mazara requires an immense amount of PAs to produce something positive which might be within the fWAR realm of “marginal error”.

I am particularly done with the Mazara experiment. I expect nothing from him to avoid disillusionment.


Well said. I believe the Sox were treating 2020 as yr 4 of rebuild and Mazara as a ‘shot in the dark’. And now with contending, they can’t afford a ‘project’ – especially one that isn’t panning out. Let the 2021 RF search begin. Ricky isn’t using his bench as he did the first 40 games and while the bullpen overall gets high grades from me, Ricky seems to pull guys when he shouldn’t and not pull guys when he should. I can’t be the only one who feels that way?


I wasn’t a fan of the Mazara trade and I’m still not but I will say, Mazara somehow has 0.2 fWAR through 97 PAs this season despite not hitting a single home run. He’s running a high BABIP compared to his career so if anything, his batting average might be overstated. Having said that, this season is tied for his highest EV in his career. He has the highest HardHit% of his career at this point in time. He is having a decent year when it comes to Barrel%, compared to his career average, but its still not great. He’s hitting more line drives than ever before and its not like he’s hitting a bunch of infield flies either. The K% jump is concerning but even with that, I have no idea what to make him offensively this year because this is not the Mazara that existed in Texas the past 4 seasons.

As Cirensica

Highest EV in his career/ highest hard hit%, barrels, and whatnot. His slugging percentage begins with a .2

Yolmer Sanchez has NEVER had a season with a Slugging % that begins with a .2

Mazara might has exchanged power by pitches selection which, in my opinion, is not working. He is tinkering. Something might work out, but the White Sox are entering into the contending window where we should be done with reclamation projects and more like “hey, we have a great core, all we need from supplementary players is that they don’t suck”.


All the metrics in the world cannot convince me that Mazara’s lack of offense hasn’t helped so far and his defense cannot compare with Engel’s. The W Sox have roster holes coming up and RF is one of them. Farm system outfielders aren’t being talked up, so they need to go shopping over the off-season. I’m probably a broken record, but I’m all-in and targeting someone like Mike Yaz, Michael Brantley, et al.


I’m not saying Mazara is good. All I’m saying is the underlying numbers and StatCast say that he should be slugging 100 points higher than he is. This season is eerily similar to 2018 (EV, launch angle, Barrel%) when he slugged .436. The numbers are there for him to be hitting with power but for whatever reason its not there. Combined with his sprint speed falling off I’m wondering if there is some “vague leg” issue he is dealing with as well.


Mazara also missed out on Spring Training 2.0, is coming off an illness, is playing for a new team in a highly unusual season, and is being judged on what is still a relatively small sample size for this year. While I don’t hold out much hope that he is going to breakout beyond his usual performance, for his first 4 years in the bigs, his OPS has consitently been 150 points higher than it is now, and the underlying metrics suggest that he can at least regress to those expected numbers over the next few weeks.

That may not be enough to justify bringing him back next year, but I’m fine with keeping him in the lineup against RHP for now.


Last night wasn’t Madrigal’s first and second TOOTBLAN. He needs to understand the speed of the major league game. But the doubles are encouraging.

Something I haven’t seem anyone comment on was the decision to replace Encarnacion with Dyson. It was late in a 2-run game. There were 2 outs. Dyson was unlikely to score from first in a way that Edwin couldn’t have. He couldn’t steal second with it already being occupied. If he scored, it would have moved the lead from 3 to 4, not as important as going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3. Then Dyson was no longer an option for late-inning defense or to pinch run in the 10th. And if we went to extras, Encarnacion’s power would be out of the game.

There was very little upside and lots of potential downside. It seemed like a rote response: Late in the game replace EE on the bases.


That game was very, very bad to watch.

One thing I will say, it’s kind of nice be on the other side of this for the first time in a long time. Over the last 4-5 years, one of the only ways the Sox would win is if the opposing team made a ton of mistakes. That’s exactly how the Pirates won. It’s nice to know that the Sox are at the point that they will be on all bad teams unless they play out of this world bad.

Let’s clean it up and win tomorrow. As long as we don’t make 5+ mistakes again, we should be fine.