Dodgers 11, White Sox 9: Only defensive after the game

Were it not for the most curious of Tony La Russa decisions, this game could’ve been a tale of the White Sox making one mistake too many. Jake Burger bobbled a couple of potential double-play balls, getting no outs on one of them. Bennett Sousa lost a foot race to first on a chopper to the right side. Dylan Cease threw 44 pitches in an inning without getting three outs.

A decently constructed White Sox lineup did what it could to cool off lefty Tyler Anderson with a four-run fourth, and had another late surge of quality plate appearances against the Los Angeles bullpen, but the rally ultimately came up a couple runs short at the end.

But the particular reason why nine runs fell a couple runs short rankles.

In the sixth inning, Sousa opened the frame with the Sox trailing 6-5. The left-handed Gavin Lux outraced him to first base for a leadoff infield single, but Sousa threatened to strand him when he retired righty Austin Barnes on a flyout and righty Mookie Betts on a groundout (which could’ve been a double play had Burger handled it cleanly).

Up came lefty Freddie Freeman, who muscled a first-pitch fastball into shallow left field to score Lux, making it a 7-5 game.

The right-handed Trea Turner came to the plate and fell behind 0-2. Sousa tried to throw a putaway slider, but it was a wild one that allowed Freeman to take second.

That’s when La Russa baffled everybody by calling for the intentional walk.

He forfeited the advantage Sousa held with a two-strike count and a base open in order to set up a lefty-lefty matchup with Max Muncy. On a 2-2 count, he tried to throw a putaway slider, but he left it up and away, and Muncy sent it up and away for a game-breaking three-run shot. He was most pleased.

After the game, La Russa was defensive, defiant and smug about his decision, presenting it as no decision at all.

In all of La Russa’s emphasis on Turner against a lefty, he didn’t seem to acknowlesge Sousa’s numbers against them. He entered the at-bat with backwards splits …

  • vs. RHB: .231/.311/.410 over 45 PA
  • vs. LHB: .300/.389/.367 over 36 PA

… and while that might be a small-sample oddity, the small sample of Thursday’s plate appearances backed it up. The lefties went 3-for-3 against Sousa. The righties went 0-for-2, with the walk, of course.

If there’s any benefit, it took the attention off Cease’s two-out meltdown. He should’ve been out of the inning when Burger flubbbed Austin Barnes’ grounder to the left side, which instead loaded the bases with one out for Betts. Cease recovered to strike out Betts, but he didn’t recover after Freeman drove in a pair with a double. Turner then chopped one to third that Burger waited back on, and Burger’s throw as late. Another run crossed the plate to narrow the gap to 4-3, and then Muncy doubled home two more to give the Dodgers the lead.

Cease then walked Will Smith on his final batter of the game, and while Matt Foster was tasked with stranding two inherited runners, he could only hold one. He opened with a walk, then spiked a wild pitch for the Dodgers’ sixth run of the inning. They didn’t trail again.

The White Sox’s 4-0 lead, built a half-inning before, seemed like it was going to last longer. José Abreu led off with a walk, followed a Burger single and an A.J. Pollock double that bounced over the wall. Burger had to hold at third, and a Yasmani Grandal walk loaded the bases.

In game Brusdar Graterol, who bruised Adam Engel with a first pitch off Angel’s elbow for a 3-0 lead, and Josh Harrison’s sac fly put a fourth run on the board. Danny Mendick couldn’t maximize the opportunity to manufacture runs, popping out for the second out, but it seemed like they accomplished enough damage for one inning. They were wrong.

Bullet points:

*Harrison hit a triple to the right-field corner to lead off the third that bounced inside the chalk, caromed off the net, then rode the top of the right-field wall before falling back into play, confusing Betts. He scored on a Mendick groundout.

*The White Sox drew six walks, half by Abreu. The Dodgers worked seven, or six and were gifted one.

*Kyle Crick posted the best pitching performance on the Sox’s die, posting zeroes in the seventh and eighth innings.

Record: 26-29 | 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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LamarHoyt_oncrack

People point to the intentional walk on the 1-2 count as the reason the Sox lost. I think that is a little unfair. The real reason they lost is not hitting Leury leadoff again.

GrinnellSteve

I think there’s a chance Tony doesn’t take another road trip with the team.

dwjm3

That would probably require Tony deciding to resign. It is difficult imaging him demonstrating that type of humility.

Last edited 26 days ago by dwjm3
Augusto Barojas

If you are right, drinks are on me – I’ll even buy Tony one (and a cab ride home). I think there is a chance, even if it might be small.

calcetinesblancos

The fact that they posted about it on the Sox site has my hopes up.

GrinnellSteve

My thinking is that these things tend to happen swiftly once a critical mass is reached.

A) The announcers were shocked and let us know. The postgame wouldn’t stop harping on it. Scott Merkin joined in. This is the equivalent of Fox News showing the hearings and then talking about how damning the evidence is.

B) I’m hearing from non-haters and casual fans that Tony has to go.

C) It’s obvious to any observer that Tony is not up to the job any more.

D) Jerry is loyal to a fault, but he’s also a businessman. The groundswwell against La Russa is about to cost Reinsdorf real dollars as fans check out on the team.

E) Tony may be thinking, “I don’t need this shit.” Whether the impetus comes from Tony or higher up doesn’t matter. It will be easier if it’s Tony’s idea.

Pray that I am right.

Augusto Barojas

I think it has to happen pretty soon for it to happen. It can’t get any more obvious than the last two games. TLR is SO bad that it is way more possible than it seemed before the season started.

Augusto Barojas

It’s getting national coverage, I think the magnitude and embarrassment of the situation gives some level of hope for the long overdue change we’ve all hoped for, we’ll see.

If they’re going to make a change, today is as good a day as any!

joewho112

I suspect Tony will have a sudden health issue that forces his retirement

ForsterFTOG

Jerry’s loyal if you kiss his ring and work cheap.

metasox

Was that a fan yelling “Tony, what are you doing?”

As Cirensica

A question that as of now, past midnight ET, remains unanswered.

metasox

The Sousa episode raises a point about the roster. If he isn’t getting out lefties, they need someone who can. They shouldn’t just be hoping Kelly can come back and fill that role.

Torpedo Jones

True, but as we’ve seen, this front office is content to lean on the “hope it all works out” mentality despite being in their rebuild contention window. So far it’s not off to a great start from the opening day wish list:

  1. Hopefully Keuchel turns back the clock
  2. Hopefully our talented-but-fragile OF stays healthy
  3. Hopefully Leurrison proves to be a legit 2B solution
  4. Hopefully Grandal carries a starting catcher workload behind the dish
  5. Hopefully Joe Kelly gets and stays healthy

Unrelated – who would’ve guessed that by June, Reese McGuire would be sporting the superior batting line among our two catchers?

a-t

Yeah it’s definitely a roster need. Not the most pressing but it’s certainly one of em

Ben

A+ headline. I needed a good laugh.

shaggy65

I like the not-used headline in the URL better; I assume it’s a Stranger Things reference?

“What Did Tony LaRussa Do?”

chipporter

This is another example of the red flag of Cease melting down in high leverage/profile situations.

As Cirensica

He was on 90s pitch count before the damaged was done, but TLR has this fixation that a starter must finish every inning they start no matter what.

itaita

I think Cease having an error extend an inning he should’ve gotten out of then following that up by striking out one of the best players in the game and once again getting the ground out that should’ve ended the inning is pretty good stuff. Everything that happened after that was TLR deciding to take a nap.

gibby32

He has been better this year in that regard. But he still has some trouble pitching over difficulty, whether it is his defense, an umpire, or just bad luck.

Hulksmash

I’ve already washed my hands of this relentlessly stupid franchise, but even still, if TLR is out there coaching tomorrow night–after a week of batting a player with a .199 OBP leadoff and walking someone on a 1-2 count–this team will have officially moved from its tragedy stage to its farce stage.

calcetinesblancos

That clip of the TLR press conference literally makes me want to start rooting for another team. Baseball is a business, and apparently everyone but Jerry is aware that The Russa is bad for business.

Augusto Barojas

I’m not even rooting for them to succeed somehow with TLR and their half ass roster moves the past two winters, because Reinsdorf doesn’t deserve to get away with his cheapness and ineptitude in the form of some lucky miracle success.

They sign dumpster heap players like Harrison and Eaton and deserve the fruits of that, which should be a pitiful October showing a third straight year, along with reduced attendance and a pissed off fan base that stops supporting this wretched disgrace of an owner until he decides to do better.

shaggy65

In Tony’s defense, he was probably as surprised as anyone to learn that Turner had a 1-2 count when intentionally walked.

Jason

Even when at “grudging acceptance” during the midway point last year, I have never been able to watch even a little bit of a TLR press conference.

calcetinesblancos

They are really painful, although at least they have slightly better lighting; last year he looked like the Danny DeVito’s Penguin from the first Batman movie.

shaggy65

It didn’t decide the outcome, but this might have been the worst strike zone of the season. Robot umps can’t get here soon enough.

soxygen

Handedness uber alles led to the game ending on a Gavin Sheets strikeout. It does beg the questions what info does Tony have in the dugout (from Duncan) and what info is he considering.

(1) why set the inning up so that a guy who is a major leaguer by injury/default this year and hasn’t been good against lefties faces Max Muncy, who is pretty good versus LHP?

(2) With the game on the line, why bring in a kid like Sheets (who, like Sousa, should probably be in the minors) to face a RHP when his average versus RHP is actually worse than the guy he replaced (Engel) versus RHP?

Also, the idea of walking Trea Turner to set up the force…Oy…one only has to set the way back machine to the 5th inning to revisit a time when he beat out a hot shot to 3rd that few if any other major leaguers could have beat…

Last edited 26 days ago by soxygen
soxfan

Regarding (2), Engel has a better average against RHP but Sheets has both a better SLG and OPS. I’m personally more comfortable with Engel in the box than Sheets, but if we’re going to beat up Tony for saying things like “we needed a single in that situation,” last year then we can’t also beat him up for looking for an impact at-bat rather than just keeping the line moving.

Intentionally walking a guy with two strikes is a pure crystallization of why Tony has to go, but the more egregious mistake was Cease’s leash (or lack thereof) in the 5th. The Engel/Sheets swap was a veritable non-issue compared to either of those.

soxygen

Max Muncy > Bennet Sousa and Daniel Hudson > Gavin Sheets. Going with handedness as the basis for these decisions when the reality is that Sousa isn’t good generally (let alone particularly good versus lefties) and when Sheets probably isnt good enough to even warrant a major league roster spot on other contending teams is pretty silly (especially when you consider that he isn’t better than Engel and hasn’t been swinging the bat well and is coming in cold…). Stoney and Jason seemed to be surprised that Sheets was brought in to face Hudson with the game on the line.

Add to that some of the other factors – eg Sousa had just given up a hit to a lefty, the team had not been able to throw out Turner on a ball that was hit a million miles an hour right at a fielder in the previous inning, Hudson got a lefty out right before Sheets was brought in to pinch hit…there just aren’t many reasons to make the decisions Tony made.

But I agree with your point re Cease – that was a horrible choice and reflects a recent pattern. As I said in the game thread, Tony’s pirate nickname would be “Captain Slow Hook.”

knoxfire30

Might as well post it every day that TLR isnt fired. RICK HAHN IS A COWARD

funkerdan

If Hahn fires TLR… JR fires Hahn, puts in a new puppet, and rehires TLR.

BHMSoxFan

Beat me to it. Rick Hahn did not hire La Russa so I doubt he has the authority to fire him.

knoxfire30

Hahn should just schedule a presser and fire him, make Jerry get off his butt come out and fire Hahn and rehire TLR , I am not really even joking, thats what he should do.

Alfornia Jones

Hahn needs to be fired also, he’s bad at spending money and bad at trades. He definitely spent money the last two off seasons but very little to show for it.

He should definitely jump on the grenade and preemptively fire Larussa knowing he’ll get canned also.

Honestly, I hope Larussa stays on and totally ruins his legacy. The stink from these two years won’t wear off easy. That and a 3rd place finish would have to set off a management house cleaning. The Sox have a high threshold for being embarrassed and ashamed, but we have to be close.

soxygen

Fangraphs gets in on the action…

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/tony-la-russa-is-at-it-again/

Here is the conclusion for the TLDR crowd:

“There’s a reason that the last intentional walk on a 1-2 count was in 2014. That one was in extra innings, with a reliever on deck and no hitters available, after the runner on first stole second. That’s an exceptional circumstance, and a good time to consider going against conventional wisdom. This wasn’t, and yet La Russa didn’t even think about it much. It wasn’t close to him.“

Last edited 26 days ago by soxygen
BHMSoxFan

I still believe that this roster, with a move or two before the deadline, is good enough to make a run in the postseason. But, not with La Russa managing the team. When he was hired, I had hoped that he wasn’t going to be so bad that he would fuck up the contention window, but it is increasingly obvious that he is going to do just that if allowed to. I can only imagine what the players are thinking. They work their asses off year round only to come to the ballpark every day having no clue what crazy lineup La Russa is going to have made up and what boneheaded decisions he’s going to make that might cost them the game. This is just a tragedy.

That video of Muncy is absolutely brutal. How many Sox players do you think would be willing to stand up right now and say “yeah, but he’s our bitch!”

soxygen

The LA broadcast showed Freeman talking with Mendick at 2nd for several seconds about the intentional walk. Mendick had his back to the camera so we can’t know what he said, but I wondered when watching it whether he was saying something like “yeah, our manager is freakin’ nuts.”

Augusto Barojas

Some of the players have to be thinking that. I will have lost all respect for the players if one of them does not have the balls to say something. It’s about f-ing time one of them spoke up.

gibby32

You expect too much from the players. They can’t do anything about it, so why fuck up their short-term and long-term professional lives. It is not their job.

ForsterFTOG

Sox don’t employ rabble rousers.
Not Jerry’s way.

chipporter

Gibby’s right. This is a business to everyone and not many think their opinion outweighs their salary or potential earnings.

Plus, talking out of school, or locker room in this case, is a huge Bozo no-no.

Last edited 26 days ago by chipporter
asinwreck

The frowning-bag-on-head graphic has never felt more appropriate.

joewho112

Guys, I think MLB Trade Rumors must be broken. I can’t find anything about LaRussa getting fired. Something is definitely broken