The White Sox have the best record in baseball.
Don’t ask how they got there.
A Yasmani Grandal single won this game for the White Sox in the 10th, but it was a game Kevin Cash seemed willing to concede after the White Sox took a four-run lead through four and expanded it through five, as he left left-handed Ryan Yarbrough in for far longer than a Tampa Bay game usually allows.
The Rays offense didn’t get the memo, the uneven part of the White Sox bullpen failed to inspire confidence, and after rallying from a 7-2 deficit by bleeding Codi Heuer, Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall for five runs over three innings, Cash had the leverage to consider his best bullpen options once again. Meanwhile, Tony La Russa took his best option off the table by limiting Liam Hendriks to a save situation that never arose, meaning Evan Marhshall had to navigate the ninth inning past the 30-pitch point, and Ryan Burr of all people had to take the 10th, runner on second and all.
Somehow, the White Sox persevered. Marshall stalled a one-out double with a pair of strikeouts that required 14 pitches to close out, and when the game-winning run was stranded in the bottom of the ninth thanks in large part to an absurd strike zone by Fieldin Culbreth, Burr neutralized the Manfred Man with a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to Andrew Vaughn.
Vaughn then started the bottom of the 10th on second. He moved to third on José Abreu’s groundout up the middle against Pete Fairbanks, which brought the infield in. Grandal made it moot by driving a 1-0 slider off the base of the right-field wall to end it.
The White Sox are now a half-game up on Tampa Bay for the league’s best record, one game better in the loss column at 43-25. It just could’ve been easier.
The Sox broke open a scoreless game in the fourth. Vaughn and Abreu did their things against an unimposing lefty — a single and a homer. Yasmani Grandal started a new rally with a walk, and after Leury García dropped a single to left and advanced to second on the throw, both runners scored on Zack Collins’ opposite-field doink for a 4-0 lead.
White Sox pitchers had problems with shutdown innings, starting with Lucas Giolito. He gave up half the margin in the top of the fifth by allowing a leadoff walk, a double, and then a two-run double to Kevin Kiermaier two batters later. After the Sox scored three in the bottom of the fifth off Yarbrough — a Brian Goodwin sac bunt that turned into a run-scoring double after an error, a Vaughn actual run-scoring double, and a Jake Lamb single — Giolito surrendered a solo shot to Mike Zunino in the top of the sixth.
Still, Giolito met the requirements for a quality start and handed the bullpen a four-run lead with three innings to go. But for the second consecutive game, he was denied a win thanks to a bullpen collapse.
While Hendriks allowed a two-run homer in the ninth inning Giolito’s last time out, this one was a group effort. Codi Heuer gave up a solid single and two-run homer to Mike Zunino that made it a two-run game, then Aaron Bummer ran into his customary misfortune he couldn’t pitch through when Danny Mendick booted a firm-but-routine two-hopper to start the eighth.
Bummer gave up a legit singe that put runners on the corners, then got a double-play-looking grounder that resulted in one out because Tim Anderson had too far to go to get to second in time to make a good hard throw. Bummer struck out Francisco Mejia, but when Evan Marshall came in to get the final out, he faltered. Marshall got ahead 0-2, but a putaway pitch escaped him, with Margot lining a changeup on the ninth pitch. Brett Phillips took off from first on the full count, and Vaughn took long enough to collect the ball for Phillips to score all the way from first, tying the game at 7.
Mendick almost got a chance to atone for his error when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, but Culbreth’s willingness to call sliders two inches off the outside corner paired poorly with Diego Castillo’s ability to put them there, and Vaughn ended up getting the bat taken out of his hands with a flailing strikeout to send the game to extras.
*This game was just the third time that a Rays starter allowed 10 hits in a game since the start of the 2020 season.
*Hendriks warmed up in the eighth, but he never came in. Adam Engel and Yoán Moncada were also kept out of the entirety of the game for protective purposes, even though Engel would’ve been a great call to run for Vaughn in the 10th.
*The White Sox won two out of three despite the drama, which has been a theme this year.
Record: 43-25 | Box score | Statcast
What a game! Take two out of three from Tampa without 4 of your best hitters and now the best record in baseball! You can say all you want about LaRussa, but his team has the best record in baseball with so many key players injured. And for all the bashing (some well-deserved) that LaRussa gets, I can’t believe Cash pitched to Grandal in that spot, with Lamb and Leury coming up behind him. I guess other managers make mistakes too.
Yeah, hats off to TLR. He’s made some terrible blunders, but with this team playing at this level, some credit has to be given to the coaching staff, right?
As for the decision to pitch to Grandal… I don’t think it was a mistake. Grandal sports the teams lowest average, so I get it. You just hope he doesn’t run into one and if you walk him, so be it.
Good point about Grandal. Runner on 3rd, 1 out, bottom of extras — this is the one time that average really truly is the only stat that matters to the defending team.
To the Sox, OBP also matters, but it needs to be weighted somehow to reflect that the walk only avoids an out and the runner on first increases the odds of a double play.
Which means BA also matters by far more for the offensive team than OBP does.
Slug doesn’t matter at all, as all hits are the same.
In fact, based on that logic, not only should the Rays have pitched to Grandal, there’s an argument to be made that we should have pinch hit for him.
I have no problem giving all the credit in the world to Katz, Menechino, Boston, and McEwing. I also give credit and jlame to Hahn for piecing this team together.
Well, that seems arbitrary. I don’t like TLR and, frankly, if they replaced him tomorrow I’d be cool with it. But the narrative—and I’m not saying you’re telling this narrative but you’ve got the major plot points—that anything good that happens is thanks to the players or Ethan Katz and anything bad that happens is thanks to TLR is absurd. You can still hate TLR and give him some credit.
I remember Jim (I think it was Jim?) talking about this during the Ricky years: the most important things a manager does are intangibles like keeping the team together, motivation, etc. I think that’s more or less true. The problem is, we have no idea how to measure it. The best indicator is what we’re seeing now: a bunch of misfits overperforming. Sometimes you can point to a tangible change (like Rodón) but it’s otherwise inexplicable. TLR’s in-game managing and lineups have been, at best, sub-par, but he does put these fringe players in a position to help the team in a unique way and it’s working.
Here’s the thing though:
The hitting improvements were occurring last year so we can directly attribute that to Menichino.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the starting pitching improvements are a direct result of health, bringing in Lynn, and Ethan Katz working his devil magic.
I actually don’t really know what Boston does as a first base coach.
McEwing has been with the team for long enough now that I’m not seeing any difference in his strategy with sends/holds from last year to this year.
Most importantly, the leadership is in place from the past two years with Anderson and Abreu and Anderson has already talked about ignoring outside stuff with the “unwritten rules” fiasco.
The only thing that I can definitively point do with TLR is his bullpen decisions, lineups, and defensive substitutions. This far into the season, he seems pretty rigid in all of those instances which sometimes works and sometimes fails spectacularly. The problem is, the stuff that works is the same stuff that every manager in MLB is doing so why would I give credit to TLR for basic managerial things? You’re meeting the bare expectations for your position. Here’s a gold star?
I agree that the only things that you can definitively point to for TLR he hasn’t performed well at, but that’s why I brought up Jim’s point: probably the most important thing a manager does can’t be definitively pointed to. Or, if it can be pointed to, it at least can be quantified.
If you think managing around the injuries the Sox have dealt with and having to play an OF off the top of the scrap heap and still having the best record in baseball is “meeting the bare expectations” for a manager, we have very different understandings of what it takes to manage well.
This, a thousand times this. This manager evaluation from our lazy-boys where everything good is thanks to anybody but the manager, and the bad is on the manager is getting really tiresome.
TLR is juggling 3 to 5 replacement level players line-ups after line-ups, and maximizing the production they can provide while seeing how 3 of his main stars are done for the season or for a long period of time, and also beats the best record team without a fourth player (Moncada), and TLR still sucks. I am tire of this narrative that is running rampant in baseball blogs and social media.
I dislike the hiring process. I dislike tremendously the off field baggage TLR brings. I dislike sometimes his in game decisions and old style managing (which by the way, it is not necessarily 100% a bad thing), but for christ sake, the guy has 2,700+ wins as a manager. You don’t “luck out” that amount of success. You just don’t. TLR knows more about managing than all of us.
Sure, let’s criticize some of his decisions, but I am willing to give the man a LOT of credit. I am happy we have a competent manager albeit not a perfect one.
Right now, I’m comfortable saying that TLR cost the Sox games over the first half of the season to date, and he’s been a net positive since.
I agree with your assessment. He has a few costly managing errors that might have altered the result of the game.
Excellent post As Cirensica. This team really enjoys each other and seem to enjoy Tony. Just look at the post-game actions on the field. Everybody seems to be clowning with Tony as they head back to the dugout. I think they really love playing for him, even with all the baggage he brings. And I think he knows how to bring the best out of everyone. This is a results-oriented game, and so far the results say he is getting this team to play at a very high level.
TLR really can’t get past the old unwritten rules on closers. I can’t figure out whether the team is palying this well to spite him, or that he actually makes some modern decisions.
Ahhh, the good old days…when the object of the game was to get your closer a save.
Nobody manages the 162 game season better than TLR. A big part of it has to be how he handles the clubhouse because he certainly isn’t above the odd decision and this goes back 40 years. Not exactly a small sample size.
That had a good chance to be accurate 10+ years ago. I’m not nearly as certain now.
Look at his everyday lineup.
Are the players who really wouldn’t be there if not for injuries playing well because Tony has confidence in them, and therefore they are playing confidently? He just always seemed to get the most out of average players. And that is certainly happening again. And every player seems to be having a good time out there and in the dugout. He must be doing something right, because they have the best record in baseball, with Eloy, Robert, Madrigal, Timmy, Kopech, Lynn, Engel all spending time on the IL, and now Moncada missing 3 big games.
Yes he has limited resources. He also continues to manage with 30 year old principles in many cases, which the majority of teams have abandoned some time ago. Maybe he knows more than everyone else, but the advanced stats say that given the WS run differential, their record should be 2-3 games better than it is.
I don’t know. Sometimes the thirty year old principles may be more effective than expected. I remember people criticizing TLR for not shifting the infield a bunch (2nd lowest shift rate in the MLB) but checking the BABIP on ground balls….the Sox seem middle of the pack. In fact, checking BABIP vs Ground balls across the league, there seems to be little correlation between shifting and enhanced defense.
Wake me up when he isn’t giving Evan Marshall the highest leverage out in the game. I hope Hendrix wasn’t available.
It’s time to give Burr some more opportunities. So far 5 innings and zero hits allowed…Marshall and Heuer can take a step back
Correlation is not causation. There have been injuries but the Sox were a good team last year and they have replaced Reynaldo López and Dane Dunning from last year’s rotation with Lance Lynn and a rejuvenated Carlos Rodón and Dylan Cease has definitely figured something out. I think with this starting pitching the Sox would have a good record with a different manager.
TLR annoyed me in 1979 because he seemed like a joyless arrogant jackass who thought he was smarter than everyone else. Nothing in the last 40+ years has improved my opinion.
Exactly. Their starting pitching has been unbelievable, massively improved over last year, such that just about any manager would have success. Eaton has played way too much for me to be convinced TLR is as smart as so many people want to believe, or give him credit for. If they win in October, people will be praising TLR as they are now. If they fall short, and there is the slightest bit of controversy or a questionable decision, he will be blamed instead.
I agree about playing Eaton too much (and clearly Tony has limited options due to injuries), but here’s the thing I keep wondering: is there a point where the front office will decide to stop wasting a roster spot & at bats on Eaton?
My guess is that they keep him around all year, hoping to make good on their investment eventually. They shouldn’t, but that’s my prior based on 4 decades of watching the Sox.
If they made a trade for someone like Peralta, who isn’t even all that great, I think they might cut Eaton at some point. Anything is possible, including Eaton starting to hit a LITTLE bit. But unless he does, he is literally useless and not an MLB level player the way he has played since the start of May. He’s gotten plenty of at bats. I would rather see anybody than Eaton in there at this point, hopefully Engel will be healthy enough to play every day pretty soon. I hope the fact that they are resting him so much is out of caution, rather than an indication of how his body is doing.
Is he all that limited? Feels like Vaughn/Lamb in left, and then whatever combo of Engel/Goodwin in CF/RF would be effective enough over forcing Eaton into the lineup every day.
Sounds good to me! Yeah I see no reason Eaton should play at all really, unless he has a health issue that has been bothering him, and he gets his legs back or whatever. I expected him to be better than this even if I hated the signing.
I’m not sure where Engel is at. He has 3 homers in like 10 days, obviously he is effective. But he has sat 3 of the last 5 games, even against a lefty yesterday. So it seems medically related, I think. They face a righty tonight, I sure hope Engel plays rather than Eaton to show TLR is not hell bent on some lefty/righty platoon nonsense that ignores how bad Eaton is, as well as Engel’s potential.
TLR is managing around Hahn’s trade of Tatis
Just because the Apollo engineers successfully sent someone to space doesn’t mean I want them in charge of a space flight in 2021.
To be fair to Marty’s point, in this case the Apollo engineers are in charge of a space flight in 2021 and the flight is going more smoothly than we’d expect with 2021 engineers.
Someone once asked why don’t we just build Saturn Vs again instead of going to the Russians for space flights to the ISS (you know, barring cost)
Answer: Current Engineers don’t have the know-how on how to build the rockets.
What kind of analogy is this?
I think this was the worst umpired game I’ve seen in over 60 years of watching baseball. And it wsn’t just the ball/strike calls, there were check swing calls that were equally as bad as the expanded strike zone.
Well we seem to know we are neck and neck with Tampa for the best team in the AL. The question becomes for me how Hahn reacts to that?
I hope he finds a way to get a right fielder and if people feel we need a stop gap at second base I’m fine with that as well.
We need a high leverage arm at the very least it seems.
I agree, I hope Hahn does not overrate this team and think they don’t need anything. Just like people did not want to make a big deal about getting swept by the Yankees, I don’t think too much should be made about winning 2 of 3 from the Rays. They could have easily lost this one, and won 2 of 3 when the Rays threw 2 left handed starters at them. They still appear very weak much of the time against right handed starters, so it’s hardly like this series made the Sox the definite best team in the AL. It certainly doesn’t mean that they should stand pat. They can definitely use a right fielder, a 2b upgrade, and another reliever… even 1 or 2 of those would help.
I wish TLR would stop trying to make Codi Heuer happen. He just hasn’t performed well enough to be the “7th Inning guy” in high leverage situations. He still is the first guy up in the pen and I just don’t get it. I realize that Kopech is out, Marshall has underperformed, and Crochet is limited innings wise, but a mixture of Foster, Burr, and Ruiz cannot be worse.
A 7-3 lead in the 7th isn’t exactly high-leverage.
Stop trying to change the narrative Roke.
And yet only one more run and TLR wouldn’t have blinked an eye at bringing in the Sox best reliever. Tie game in extras when you need Ks? Not so much.
Him entering the game Wednesday may not have been “high” leverage, but a 4 run lead against the team with the best record in baseball certainly didn’t feel comfortable to me.
Thanks to Soxygen for the stats. I guess better luck is expected for Heuer. Obviously the ERA is high, but digging deeper shows he has been better than what I thought.
My original statement was saying the Sox keep putting him (and Marshall) out there as part of the end game strategy but it seems like they can’t be relied upon to get outs consistently. They rank 3 & 4 in appearances behind Hendriks and Bummer, so the situation yesterday may not have been high leverage, but TLR is definitely relying on Heuer to be a major contributor.
Heuer has a 3.65 FIP and a 3.21 xFIP. His opponent BABIP is .397. He has struck out 23.7% of batters faced and walked only 3.5% (lower than every Sox reliever not named Hendriks). Opponent hard hit rate is lower than Foster (of course), Marshall, Bummer, and Hendriks.
I get that the results haven’t been there, but he has been really unlucky.
yesterday was the first time I thought his stuff was bad, he has been murdered by bad luck so far
Unlucky seems to be the theme for several of our lower relievers this year.
Yep, as good as we hoped they would be and as bad as it seems like they’ve been, the Sox have the 4th best bullpen ERA in the AL, 4th lowest wOBA allowed, are 1st in the AL in bullpen FIP and bullpen xFIP, 2nd in bullpen K% and 2nd in bullpen BB%.
Only 3 teams have allowed a higher BABIP and that’s where a lot of the damage is coming. Some of that is that the contact made against our relievers is high quality (middle of the pack in line drive % and hard hit %), but some of it is just luck (for example, only 2 AL bullpens have allowed more infield hits as %).
22 comments so far and at least 9 are attacks on LaRussa. The Sox have the best record in baseball, just took 2 of 3 from Tampa without 4 of their best hitters and one of their best pitchers, and all you guys want to do is rip LaRussa. This is just amazing. You try to take all the fun out of watching one of the most exciting teams in baseball. We finally have a good team and it’s just so joyless on here. I’m done with all the negativity. Go watch the Twins if you want to complain.
Yeah, I’m usually pretty critical of Tony, even as recently as the 9th/10th inning yesterday, but I can’t muster up any strength to complain about him right now. All these role players stepping up to make the major’s best team is too much fun to be worried about TLR. I can wait until the next losing streak to complain about him.
Roke, YOU started the comments in this thread with “you can say all you want about LaRussa but” and referring to LaRussa bashing. Literally- it’s the very first comment anyone made on the game recap before any of the 9 comments that you are referring to….give it a rest, man…
apparently you can’t say all you want about La Russa
How is “YOU can say all YOU want about LaRussa” me bashing him? I’m referring to all the negative comments that continue to show up. The Sox record is 43-25, not 27-41 like the team most of you said two months ago was better than the Sox. I want to celebrate this team’s success, and most of the comments here are critical of a manager who has 3 WS rings. An earlier post gives credit to all the other coaches and not LaRussa. That is just blind hatred for the man.
I just meant that you invited the discussion about LaRussa. You started by arguing against things that no one had said yet. The comments that you refer to are largely responses to your own pro-LaRussa comments that kicked everything off so the outrage about 9 comments feels a little forced.
Fair enough, soxgen. You make a good point. Let’s just enjoy this wonderful season. Go Sox!!
Sox Twitter and other message boards get pretty thick with the TLR bashing. There’s an entire dialog that’s ringing in my head by the time I open SoxMachine.
I think that’s true for everybody, no matter which side of the LaRussa divide you’re on.
I come here for Jim’s magnificent writing and for the community. I love the constructive conversations, and I don’t like it when people come in with guns blazing on any topic (not calling anyone out – we all do it sometimes).
For a lot of baseball fans, the game is enjoyable because there is such rich data and history that it actually is possible to have informed debates about in game decisions (personally, I watch every game with Tom Tango’s “The Book” at my side). I get that not everyone feels that way. But I don’t think that being stats oriented or wanting to second guess in game decisions means that someone isn’t a Sox fan, wants to see the team fail, or is trying to ruin other people’s enjoyment of the games, et cetera…
I’m just one guy and I have my own strong opinions, but I feel like the arguments about TLR are threatening to bring the culture wars we all want to escape into the place we go to escape…which for a lot of us is Sox Machine.
Well said, soxgen. Let’s enjoy this wacky team all the way to the World Series!
Totally – this team is a hoot! Let’s enjoy the ride- we have a rotation that is absolutely World Series quality so let’s see if they can get us there.
This is a great point. Thanks
This…Rec’ed 10 times.
Is there any thought that yesterday’s pitching performances may have been impacted by the sticky controversy?
It doesn’t seem likely, at least with the pitchers involved. Spin rates were a mixed bag of up and down, all within a standard deviation of normal fluctuation, and sinker-oriented guys like Heuer and Bummer aren’t typically the ones seeking a huge edge with RPM.
Thanks. I’m a poor one at digging deep on something like that, and I know one game is not a trend. I suspect my question will get asked a lot this summer. Thanks for bearing with me.
I wanted to voice my appreciation for the runner on second in extra innings being the Manfred Man. Not sure if that’s a Jim Original (TM), but I hope it sticks!
It’s not, I’ve seen it tweeted a few times and I’m a fan.
Also great is just calling that man Fred.