The Chicago White Sox somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The White Sox were cruising along with a 4-0 lead heading into the fifth inning. That is when everything fell apart.
Starting pitcher Dylan Cease was pitching well until third baseman Jake Burger committed an error. Instead of an inning-ending double play or at least two outs, Cease and the Sox unraveled.
The Los Angeles Dodgers went on to score six runs in the fifth and take a two-run lead. Burger atoned for his error by hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the frame.
Things got worse for the Chicago White Sox in the top of the sixth inning. Reliever Bennett Sousa was tapped to pitch the sixth inning. It was a big mistake from the beginning.
Gavin Lux reached on an infield single where Bennett Sousa didn’t get over in time for Andrew Vaughn’s flip to first, reached second when Jake Burger bobbled a potential double play ball, and scored on a two-out bloop single by Freddie Freeman. It’s 7-5 Dodgers
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) June 9, 2022
Sousa rebounded after the Freddie Freeman RBI-single to work an 0-2 count on Trea Turner. That is when things got weird.
Sousa threw a slider into the dirt and that is when Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa decided to intentionally walk Turner. It was a decision that left Turner, Freeman, and every White Sox fan baffled.
Tony La Russa intentionally walked Trea Turner on a 1-2 count… then Max Muncy hit a 3-run HR!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 9, 2022
Max Muncy came up and smacked a 2-2 slider into the Guaranteed Rate Field stands. A chance to exit the inning just being down two runs turned into a five-run deficit.
La Russa seemed appalled after the game that he had to explain intentionally walking a hitter with a 1-2 count and two outs to pitch to a batter with a clean count.
Tony La Russa defends his decision to walk Trae Turner on a 1-2 count pic.twitter.com/hyhUQgTtXa
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) June 9, 2022
It turns out La Russa’s logic for the move was flawed.
I feel silly even breaking it down, but…
Trea Turner, career vs. LHP after 1-2: .258/.310/.390
Bennett Sousa, career vs. RHB after 1-2: .167/.286/.167
TLR traded that for…
Max Muncy, career vs. LHP: .251/.365/.492
Sousa, career vs. LHB: .300/.389/.367
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) June 9, 2022
The Sox did rally back by scoring four runs over the final two innings. Chicago had the potential winning run at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The problem was the man at the plate was Gavin Sheets who has been struggling badly.
La Russa still tabbed him to pinch-hit for Adam Engel. Sheets failed to be the hero and instead struck out to end the game.
Poor defense and La Russa cost the Chicago White Sox a chance to win a series.
Burger’s error, Sousa failing to cover first, and then his wild pitch against Turner helped send the White Sox to three games under .500.
La Russa’s decision to intentionally walk Turner is one of his three bad decisions that also played a role in the Sox loss to the Dodgers. Starting the sixth with Sousa as the pitcher was the second bad decision.
He had Aaron Bummer or Kendall Graveman available and choose to tab a pitcher with a 6.50 ERA heading into that inning (although Sousa did pitch the day before and did not give up a run).
It was still a high leverage inning and La Russa refused to go with the pitchers that are typically successful in that situation. He refuses to manage today’s game the way it is meant to be managed. Instead, he is still managing like it is 2011.
The third bad choice was going with Sheets to pinch-hit in the ninth inning. He is 5-for-29 over the last 15 days and has not had a home run in 30 days. He is hitting .154 with runners in scoring position.
Although, his logic was not completely flawed with going to Sheets. He has two hits this season as a pinch hitter and is hitting .250 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Sheets also had a hit in Game 2 of the series.
The downside is Sheets is in a bad slump where a demotion to Triple-A Charlotte is in order. To makes matter worse, La Russa’s awful lineup in the second game of the series did not put the Sox in the best position to win that game.
He put Leury Garcia at leadoff, Yoan Moncada in the three-hole, and Yasmani Grandal in the five-spot. Those were three hitters in the top of the lineup with a wRC+ of 50 or less.
The last two games and the Sox’s poor start to the season would probably get most managers fired.
I don’t *think* Tony La Russa is about to get fired, but that’s the kind of game and press conference that does it. It would take players turning on him and I’m still not sure that’s enough. The smugness in that presser was wild.
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) June 9, 2022
As long as Jerry Reinsdorf owns the Chicago White Sox, La Russa will remain employed. The White Sox World Series hopes will suffer because of that.