Orioles 6, White Sox 3: Bullpen walks off ledge in seventh

Hanser Alberto entered this game as a defensive replacement at third base, because Pedro Grifol pinch-hit Gavin Sheets for the original third baseman, Jake Burger, in the sixth inning. At the time, the White Sox led 3-0.

When Alberto came to the plate and hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth inning, the White Sox trailed 6-3.

The spate of injuries to the usual suspects already tore open the scabs that formed over the wounds of 2022, but watching Alberto hit for himself in a game state that no longer demanded him brought the most acute sense of deja vu, because leaving defensive replacements to hit for themselves when the Sox required offense was a trademark of Tony La Russa’s two years. It often featured Leury García, but Billy Hamilton was also a popular candidate for this treatment.

The difference is that La Russa usually had better options, whereas Pedro Grifol has none. Even if he could have pinch-hit for Alberto with a superior candidate, said candidate would’ve come to the plate with two outs and nobody on, so there wouldn’t have been a point.

The question is whether the motives matter. The White Sox are already five games out of first place, so it’s a bad time for the win probability chart to reverse course so violently, however it happened.

And what a way it happened tonight.

The White Sox led 3-0 after six shutout innings from Mike Clevinger, who once again showed a knack for pitching effectively wild. He issued five walks over six innings and only generated nine whiffs on 92 pitches, but because his misses mostly occurred outside the strike zone, he only allowed a single otherwise.

Then came the White Sox bullpen, which lacked the knack for such escapes.

Jake Diekman, pitching for the eighth time in 14 games, opened the seventh by walking Gunnar Henderson. He struck out Austin Hays, but he issued a questionable balk, then backfilled first base by walking Jorge Mateo.

Having fulfilled the three-batter minimum, Pedro Grifol turned to Reynaldo López, who got Ryan O’Hearn to fly out. He then sawed off Terrin Vavra,. but it resulted in a crazy cue shot to short, and between the initial unusual spin and a kick off the side of the mound, it proved too much for an Elvis Andrus barehanded attempt to load the bases.

Then López walked Cedric Mullins on four pitches to bring Adley Rutschman to the plate, and that proved to be as bad an idea as it sounded. López got ahead 1-2, but he grooved a fastball, and Rutschman split the left-center gap to clear the bases for a 4-3 Orioles lead.

Jimmy Lambert also crumbled with two outs an inning later. After striking out the first two he faced, he gave up a double off the left-center wall. Luis Robert Jr. made a fine play on the carom and a strong throw to second that might’ve had a chance to get Austin Hays … if anybody were covering. Lenyn Sosa ended up catching the ball well off the bag, and that was the first of three Orioles doubles that tacked on two insurance runs that proved unnecessary.

The Baltimore blitz erased a 3-0 lead the White Sox built in painstaking fashion. Jake Burger put the Sox on the board with a missile off Tyler Wells in the second, but they couldn’t tack on additional runs until the sixth. Andrus hit the first of his two doubles, then came around to Andrew Benintendi’s flared single to center. Two batters later, Andrew Vaughn walked, and Eloy Jiménez flipped a broken-bat single to left to score Benintendi.

The Sox had a chance to score more. When Wells exited for Mike Baumann, Grifol went to Sheets, who drew a walk to load the bases with still just one out. Alas, Yasmani Grandal and Sosa both struck out, and the flood gates of disappointment creaked open.

Bullet points:

*Benintendi made a nice diving catch by the foul line in left field to help out Clevinger in the sixth, but he also made an unsuccessful leaping attempt at the wall on one of Lambert’s doubles, and a play was possible.

*The same can be said for Sosa, who made a nice catch near the netting in right-field foul territory to keep a runner frozen at third, but then forgot to cover the bag an inning later.

*The Orioles stole two bases in the eighth, but Clevinger kept control of the running game during his portion of the evening, including a pickoff of Henderson.

*The White Sox invited problems by walking nine batters over nine innings.

Record: 5-9 | Box score | Statcast

Author

  • 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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vince

The nice thing about the new rules is due to an ill advised evening nap I slept through the entire game.

I know it is early, but this team feels a lot closer to losing 100 games than it does to winning 100.

JimMargalusBiggestFan

I don’t understand the Diekman obsession. Why does the worst reliever in the pen (that’s saying something) lead the team in appearances?

Also, Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams have no shame.

itaita

Well who are you throwing out there in his place thats so much more reliable? And quite frankly he had a few good outings the last couple games. Plus they’re at home. And as we know the team might stink on the road but at home they love making people that bought tickets regret it.

JimMargalusBiggestFan

He has a negative K-BB ratio.
The M & M guy could pass for a safer option.

HallofFrank

I think the answer to your question is: “Literally anyone but Diekman.” Bummer, Lopez, or Graveman are the obvious answers, coming off an off day. Lambert or Middleton also would’ve been fine choices. I think Santos or Banks would’ve been bad ideas but probably still better ideas than Diekman. Diekman needs to see nothing but low leverage until he either rebuilds his value or is DFA’d.

Michael Kenny

I said I’d see how they started the season, and if things went south quickly I was dipping out.

Things have indeed gone south quickly.

Sell the team.

Augusto Barojas

Are the billboards up? They’ve scored 11 runs during the last 5 games (all vs RHP starters). That’s what they get when the biggest free agent addition in 3 years is a left fielder who hit 5 homers last year.

670WMAQtheElder

There’s a billboard on a building on 31st St. Don’t recall the cross street.

calcetinesblancos

MAKE THE HITTERS GET ON. Stop walking people. Diekman is terrible, I would not be shocked to see him DFA’d tomorrow. Literally anyone who can throw strikes would be better.

StockroomSnail

I for one think leaving the runway would’ve just added to the carnage.

Foulkelore

This one was frustrating. They had the lead in the 7th. At that point you use: Bummer, Graveman, and Lopez. I know Lopez was part of the problem tonight, but he didn’t get to come into a clean situation. Using the three of them just worked during their last win to hold a one run lead on Monday. Diekman pitched their last two games before this, coming in while losing, and Grifol goes to him late with a lead, for the third straight game. I don’t get it.

ParisSox

Agreed. Bummer. Graveman, Lopez, boom. Especially after an off day when everyone is rested.

If Grifol is experimenting because it’s April, he’s now lost that privilege being so far behind so early.

As Cirensica

And what infuriates me most was a recurring theme in last years’ bullpen management where Tony tried to keep his good relievers ‘fresh’, and then having to use them in games the White Sox were losing by a plenty because ‘they have to work’.

ParisSox

Yeah this

BenwithVen

Well, since Graveman already threw his weekly inning, I’m guessing he was unavailable.

burning-phoneix

It wasn’t La Russa that was the problem last year. All Managers do weird bullpen shit all the time. Never heard a fan that was pleased by his team’s bullpen management. Next time out he’ll put high leverage relievers in when we’re losing by 7 runs.

HallofFrank

I know Diekman and Grifol are wearing blame for this one and rightly so, but the offense needs some blame, too. Josh and Jim talked about it on the podcast: the O’s have a good offense. They are going to score some runs. But their pitching should give up runs, too. Eeking out 3 runs against Tyler Wells &. co. usually isn’t going to cut it. Vaughn, Benintendi, and Eloy need to start showing power. Robert has been crushing the ball so far, but what happens when he hits one of those patented off-stretches? I don’t know how this team consistently scores runs then.

Ted Mulvey

My 83-79 prediction is looking awfully optimistic at the moment.

As Cirensica

Extremely. In recent games, I have watched a bad team.
A team with defensive miscues.
A team with no depth.
A team with an atrocious bench filled with players that truly don’t fit among themselves.
A team that is starting to bring fringe fresh arms from the minors to cover high leverage innings.
A team with poor defense, and at times, unprepared.
A team that has no plate discipline.
A team that walks way too many opposing hitters.
A team that is unwilling to think outside the box.
And worse of all, a team that cannot stay healthy.

We are already trailing by 5 games, and I see no signs that can change. It is April 15. We could perfectly be out by double digits before May 15. I can’t see this team beating the Bluejays and Tampa in the upcoming series. Maybe they will take 1 game each.

I am honestly tired of watching this shitshow year after year, and it is not the lack of payroll. This is a close to 200M payroll team. The cause of all remains unchanged. This is a poorly run team, and that won’t change by keeping those in charge, in charge.

ParisSox

Preach!

670WMAQtheElder

Amen!

Alfornia Jones

the only way out of this is the Sox being really bad. they are built to finish in 2nd and be in the WC race. being buried by July 1st is the only way out, they have to bring in a new FO.

The only way out of this is Jerry Reinsdorf selling the team or at minimum stepping down from any sort of decision making position. Buckle up for Rick Hahn Rebuild 3.0

steelydan52

My 89 or 90 win season prediction makes me want to check myself in to a mental health facility. Or start taking drugs.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I had assumed that those who predicted 90 wins for this team were taking drugs already. 🙂

a-t

This is like the 5th game already that we’ve lost by the bullpen blowing it, and by bullpen, I largely mean the fucking shitty relievers that Grifol won’t stop fucking putting in high leverage spots. We’re playing a lot of close games because it seems that either the SP is good or the offense is good on a given day but never both, and I think we are 5-9 instead of 7-7 or 8-6 pretty much entirely because of baffling bullpen choices.

The bullpen has a collective 7.71 ERA. 7.71! Dead last in baseball by a mile.

Last edited 1 year ago by a-t
670WMAQtheElder

You prompted me to look at the stats. There is no one who is lights out effective. Nobody. So it’s a matter of who is least worst. And that is pretty bad. Besides Diekman, Santos is bad, Lambert, and Lopez who should be better throwing at 100MPH. Too many walks. WHIPs are over 2. Be nice to have someone who can throw a splitter like Bautista.

Augusto Barojas

There has been way, way less of a difference between Grifol and La Russa than I had hoped. He’s certainly better energetically, but not all that much tactically so far. Not impressed, at all.

StockroomSnail

I guess it’s nitpicking which reliever is chosen in a bullpen this bad.

670WMAQtheElder

.500 is optimistic. These guys just aren’t that good. New coaches, but same results. Nibble, nibble on the corners. Get behind in the count, and lay one in there. Boom. Our guys chase everything; their guys don’t. Grandal three Ks, including a big one after Sheets walked. Diekman can’t throw strikes, yet Grandal sets up twice low and away and of course the Oriole guy walks. Why? Eloy watches an 88 MPH slider go right over the heart of the plate for a looking K. Mental mistakes like not covering 2nd when there is a play. This team is just as hard to watch as last year’s.

Alas, it is April 15, but it is really hard to see how this gets better. Losing TA is huge. Hahn filled only one of the three holes in the field, and so we have to play Colas and Sosa everyday and hope they develop. Otherwise we know the rest of the guys. The sample size is large enough.

steelydan52

Here’s something to relax all of us. Hahn said he is not concerned about the early season injuries. I think we can read into that that he signed a long term extension.
Does anyone know his contract status or is it he’s there until Jerry isn’t?

StockroomSnail

Rick Hahn has never had worries.

shaggy65

Benintendi was asked to bunt with a runner on 2nd and nobody out. Luckily he failed, got to 2 strikes, and had no choice but to hit an RBI single.

It all worked out, but I’m a little scared that Pedro may have counterproductive bunting instincts.

dwjm3

Pedro might be massively in over his head. I still sort of chuckle at the fact we hired the Royals bench coach.

upnorthsox

I still sort of chuckle at the fact we hired the Royals assistant hitting instructor.

Marty34

The great Ethan Katz along with his clipboard and pen need to be shown the door. Funny how his analytical approach started to crash and burn at around the the same time they banned the sticky stuff.

StockroomSnail

We should be hiring people from Houston, we need better cheating.

Matt

Its funny to me how the White Sox front office generalizes “negative fans” as an enemy rather than a product of their incompetence. The lack of awareness in this organization is frustrating and sad but also so ironic to reality that it becomes entertaining. Its toxic beyond repair because the trust level to do the right thing is also half measured and never forward thinking, just chaotic scrambling and hope quick fixes do the job. This rebuild failed the moment they didnt realize overhauling and investing in their player development/facilities/technology/analytics/medical/training/strength & conditioning was also necessary to sustain a pipeline and culture of winning players. It was the same philosophy with different prospects: We paid you, now you do the work to get better and it stalled out from my perspective…but somehow we fans are the problem still

StockroomSnail

“You can’t listen to the haters, they’re justifiably mad at me.”