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At least the White Sox have their pride.
And maybe not even that.
After Tony La Russa threw Yermín Mercedes under the bus before the game, he defended Tyler Duffey for throwing behind Mercedes after the game, then denied that maybe there wasn’t even intent to begin with.
In between, his team wasted a 4-0 lead, partially due to a shorthanded offense that couldn’t generate runs after Minnesota’s rookie starter departed the game, partially due to an offense shorthanded further by early defensive replacements and an unwillingness to pinch-hit later, and partially due to a pitching staff that allowed three homers to Miguel Sanó.
The White Sox lineup wasn’t retired in order all evening, but after beating up Bailey Ober for four runs over four innings, including a couple homers, the White Sox could only generate five walks and a one-out single over the course of the final five innings against the Twins’ army of righties and Taylor Rogers.
Part of it’s due to the White Sox struggling against righties. It didn’t help that La Russa lifted Jake Lamb — who homered, was plunked and scored two runs — for a defensive replacement after six innings, meaning Billy Hamilton had to bat with a runner on in the eighth. It didn’t help that La Russa didn’t lift Adam Eaton against Rogers with a runner on first and Danny Mendick on the bench, even though Eaton can’t hit lefties anymore. It doesn’t help that José Abreu is on the bench but thoroughly unavailable, making early defensive substitutions more damaging when offense is needed later.
But that was only half the issue. The White Sox pitching operation had no answer for Sanó, who hit two solo shots off Lance Lynn, then a two-run shot off Aaron Bummer, whose run of eight strong outings came crashing to a halt.
Lynn allowed his own damage, but he still handed a bullpen a 4-2 lead after six, so he did his job. Michael Kopech handled the seventh without incident, and Bummer took the eighth. Unfortunately, Bummer walked the leadoff man, then gave up Sanó’s third dinger of the game that tied the game at 4.
Even though Bummer’s command problems were apparent in the eighth, La Russa had Bummer open the ninth, which he did by falling behind Andrelton Simmons 3-1 before giving up a leadoff single. La Russa then pulled Bummer for Liam Hendriks, who continues to fall short of impressing. He got Nelson Cruz to hit a weak dribbler to the left side for one out, then intentionally walked contact king Luis Arraez. Josh Donaldson worked the count full by laying off sliders before flying out to the warning track, after which Simmons took third.
Up came Polanco, and the guy who walked to start the game-tying rally in the eighth ended the game an inning later with a liner into the right-field corner. A demoralizing series loss for the Twins turned into a demoralizing loss for the White Sox, with a rubber game looming to decide how long the irritation lasts.
*Hendriks already has twice as many strikeout-less outings in 17 outings this year (four) as he did in 24 outings last year (two).
*Andrew Vaughn had a rough game, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and lettting a grounder squib through him for an error at first base.
*Lamb, a controversial choice to hit second, held up his end of the bargain by reaching twice and scoring twice. Tim Anderson couldn’t get anything going in front of him, going 0-for-5 with a strikeout.
*Duffey and Rocco Baldelli were ejected when Duffey’s first pitch sailed behind Mercedes’ knees with one out and nobody on in the seventh. La Russa’s response was pathetic: