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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.
*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.