White Sox lost baseball game by losing bases everywhere

It’s fitting that the White Sox’s 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday ended with Yasmani Grandal surrendering the final 90 feet with an unforced error, because the White Sox hemorrhaged bases all night long on both sides of the ball.

Jimmy Cordero, who had only let one of 36 inherited runners score on his watch over the course of his White Sox career, appeared to be getting a start on another runner-stranding miracle when he induced a weak dribbler from Kevin Newman with the bases loaded, setting the stage for an easy force play at home.

Grandal just didn’t catch it.

The White Sox never trailed until that last play of the game, but they invited Pittsburgh back into the game with a number of smaller gestures throughout the evening. Nobody could be surprised by the Pirates showing up to claim their prize, even if it was right before closing.

Here’s an inventory of all the ways the White Sox lost 90 feet on Tuesday.

Third inning: -1 base

The accounting for this inning is pretty simple. After reaching on a fielder’s choice with one out, Tim Anderson was picked off first base by Joe Musgrove.

Fifth inning: -2 bases

The fifth had a lot more going for it. Nick Madrigal started the inning by blowing through a stop sign on Anderson’s one-out single to center. It turns out Nick Capra tried holding him for a reason.

At least Anderson helped address the base deficit a batter later. After moving up to second on the throw, he ended up scoring from second on what could generally be described as a grounder to the right side.

It’s not quite a net wash, because Anderson’s derring-do made a lot more sense with two outs than Madrigal’s attempt to score himself with one down. Still, Anderson typically wouldn’t have scored on such a play, so I’ll say they nullify each other for the purposes of this exercise. It’s not like it makes an unwarranted dent in the deficit.

The bottom of the inning posed greater problems. Josh Bell probably should have singled on this play, but he stretched it to second on Eloy Jiménez’s arm and lack of decisiveness.

Jiménez’s hesitation on returning the ball to the infield was a hallmark of his game early, and it’s something that can’t really resurface since it exacerbates the vulnerability of his below-average arm strength.

That hiccup didn’t really end up mattering, because Nomar Mazara yielded his own extra base on the next batter. He got trapped too close to the wall on Ke’Bryan Hayes’ drive to right, which turned a double into a triple.

That extra base hurt, because Kevin Newman’s grounder over third base wouldn’t have scored him otherwise, even if Yoán Moncada couldn’t have turned it into an out.

Sixth inning: -1 base

I would have been angrier about José Abreu giving up a base on a pop-out in foul territory because daddy needed a GIF, but I didn’t know the rules on that, either. We all learned something with no damage done.

Eighth inning: -1 base

At least Abreu got his base back. He motored all the way from first to score on Jiménez’s double, which Gregory Polanco facilitated by not handling the carom cleanly.

Alas, the White Sox still ended up in the red for the inning because Grandal had trouble handling Evan Marshall’s sinking stuff. Erik González anticipated the outcome better than Grandal did, and beat the throw to second by a sliver.

González then he moved to third on a pitch that Marshall yanked past the other side plate, and off the tip of Grandal’s mitt.

González didn’t score, because Marshall got a strikeout and Ross Detwiler a groundout.

Ninth inning: -3 bases

Madrigal should stop doubling if he’s not going to allow himself a chance to score from it. This time, he got thrown out by a couple of steps at third on a grounder to the left side, which removed a runner from scoring position.

In the bottom of the ninth, the bases were loaded because Grandal let a Cordero sinker skip by him. The wild pitch took the force out of play, at least until the intentional walk restored it at all bases.

And all these events preceded the final at-bat of the game, which is what Grandal’s game-losing error such a fitting way to close it out.

* * * * * * * * *

Madrigal found himself under the microscope during and after the game for good reason. He’s now been thrown out four times in just four games. Capra sent him home on the first one, but he seems to have adjusted accordingly. The last three are on Madrigal, he injured himself on the first of those. That’s a pretty hefty toll considering he’s played just 13 games, and he admitted as such.

“This one kind of hurts on my part because I know I could have done a couple things different,” he said. “I know I’m better than that. I know I’m a smarter baseball player than what I did today, especially base running. I feel like that’s one of my strengths is base running and knowing the situation of the game.

“It’s easy to say that on the outside, (that they were rookie mistakes and part of the learning process), but I knew in the moment, once it happened, it just wasn’t a smart play. I’ll clean it up. I know it’s stuff I’m working on, but I expect better from myself.”

Madrigal’s built a lot of his lower-level success on his maniacal drive overwhelming less gifted defenses. You can see it in the diminishing returns on his stolen-base efforts against more polished competition over 2018 and 2019:

  • Oregon State: 15-for-16
  • Winston-Salem: 23-for-30
  • Birmingham: 14-for-20
  • Charlotte: 4-for-7

MLB defenses apparently aren’t as mesmerized by the churning of Madrigal’s legs. He’s forcing the issue, but for the wrong team. He has a limited amount of leeway before “aggressive” becomes a detriment, especially when he’s also susceptible to rushing things on defense.

But it’s also fair to note that others joined him in messing up the margins, and in ways that could also resurface. Corner outfield defense is never going to be a strength when Jiménez and Mazara are flanking Luis Robert. Grandal has a tendency to drop random items.

The Sox are allowed a bad game here and there. They’re still in first place, and even if they weren’t, they’re 99 percent likely to make the postseason at this point. This one just happened to expose some fault lines that numerous Sox are going to have to keep in mind as the pressure increases over the final fortnight of the regular season, and hopefully into October.

(Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus
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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LuBob DuRob

As pointed out by others in the post game thread, Eloy double pumps just about any time he throws it in. I can’t tell if he doesn’t know where to go with the ball (seems unlikely in most situations like the one last night, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s not mentally running through scenarios in prep) or if it is a physiological hiccup whereby he needs to double pump to get his limbs to act properly. Whatever the case, I expect other playoff teams will be aware of this and we’ll start to see more singles stretched to “doubles”.


Yes, it’s the weirdest thing. If I’m a coach, I’m pounding this into his head: never think about where to throw the ball. Pick it up, find Tim Anderson, and throw it to him.


Instructions unclear, ball thrown into dugout.


I can’t fault Jose for his “fall” into the net. I assumed he was poking fun at Eloy, and it’s a shame the umpire didn’t have as good a sense of humor. I’ll give a base to the Pirates for that entertainment.


I am sure it is simpler than I am thinking about it, but my understanding from last week, the net works like a wall for a ball in play. I think it was a Mendick ground rule double, but after the game the umps corrected it and said it should have still been in play after it hit the net. So if it is a wall there I don’t get why him leaning on it was as if he was out of play. Additionally, I am pretty sure had he just sat on the wall sans net he would have been fine, and he never lost contact with the wall.

LuBob DuRob

I still don’t think I understand the fall into net rule.
As an example, would the Uribe WS catch play been affected by this rule? He would have fallen into the net/seats, so the runner on 2nd would go to 3rd?

LuBob DuRob

Here’s the Uribe play:

LuBob DuRob

In both plays, the player’s feet remain over the field of play. I don’t think they awarded the Astro player 3rd, but correct me on that. There was also a famous Jeter catch, but since it was the 3rd out in the inning I guess you can go for it. Abreu’s play was self-created and therefore kind of dumb, but based on that call, you would have to penalize potentially amazing plays. I don’t like the spirit of it.


Whether the player’s feet remain over the field of play is mostly relevant to whether a legal catch was made. If it wasn’t a catch, it’s just a foul ball and no one advances. If it is a catch, baserunners have the opportunity to advance, and if the fielder lands out of play (by stepping or completely falling into dead ball territory, or under the new netting rules, falling into the netting), the baserunners automatically advance one base.

In the Uribe play, he never fully fell into foul ground — i.e., neither of his feet nor his entire body landed out of play — but was only “leaning” into the stands, so the baserunner would not be entitled to automatically advance.

LuBob DuRob

So while catching a foul ball, falling into the netting, which I guess would mean your feet leaving the ground, will result in an extra base for base runners.
That’s clear enough. I still think it’s a bad rule and Uribe would have fallen way more into the netting than Abreu. I guess that’s what I’m trying to foreshadow now that the netting rule is there.


While Grandal should have caught that ball, I’m surprised there was no mention of the fact that Cordero’s thow — low and soft — made the play harder than it needed to be.

I like that Madrigal took ownership of his mistakes. As you suggested, he’s going to have to adjust to the fact that his speed is not as fast relative to the competition as it was in college.


I’ve seen a lot of people in the workplace take responsibility for their mistakes and then never actually learn and grow from them. It sounds like Nick is not one of those people but I want to see him not blow through a stop sign a few times before I’ll truly believe him.


Madrigal has been aggressive to the point of foolish on the bases. It works to a shockingly high caliber of baseball, but not this high. Chalking it up to inexperience for now. Neither of those TOOTBLANs required great execution from the defense, but guessing he has to learn how well MLBers execute defensively, too.


I’m encouraged by this accounting, because this Sox team is talented enough that the Pirates needed every one of these fuckups in order to steal the game. As others have mentioned, it’s been a while since the Sox had that much margin for error.

As for Madrigal, just get your dumbassery out of the way now while we’re in playoff ramp-up mode. No TOOTBLANs in October please.