Just when you thought the Chicago White Sox were turning a corner before the All-Star break, bam … reality drilled them right in the jaw on Wednesday night.
The White Sox took a 4-0 lead into the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox, but the bullpen blew that lead in the final two innings to fall at Fenway Park, 5-4.
What’s really a shame for the White Sox was wasting another sharp outing from ace Chris Sale. In 7 2/3 innings of work on Wednesday, Sale only gave up four hits, while being credited for one earned run and struck out six on 107 pitches (80 strikes). The storyline coming into Wednesday’s game was Boston manager John Farrell not selecting Sale to the American League’s pitching staff for the Midsummer Classic in Minnesota next week.
One of the discussions after the game that swirled around was the questionable decision by White Sox manager Robin Ventura to take Sale out after 108 pitches and two outs in the eighth inning. If Sale would have stayed on, the next Red Sox hitter was former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. Sale was pulled and Pedroia drilled an RBI single to start the late rally for the BoSox.
Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com broke down the situation exactly how a reasonable spectator should have viewed the situation:
So, the attention turned to Robin Ventura’s role in the mess. After all, he pulled Chris Sale after 108 pitchers with two outs in the eighth, with just a runner on third. Surely he could’ve faced Dustin Pedroia for a few more pitches — it wasn’t a critical situation, and given how well he had been pitching, he could’ve retired Pedroia in five or six pitches and close out his eight scoreless innings with a respectable pitch count of 114 or so.
Your ace is on the mound. He’s dealing as usual. All you need is one out to escape the inning with a runner in scoring position. Why not give Sale a chance to at least finish the inning against a stellar hitter in Pedroia?
Once again, the White Sox bullpen issues make themselves known and it costed the Good Guys a game they basically had in hand.
All is not lost however, as the White Sox have a chance to win the series on Thursday afternoon at Fenway. The battle of the Sox concludes as Jose Quintana will get the ball for the White Sox, while Jon Lester starts for the Red Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 CT.
White Sox Notes:
- In the last three wins for Chris Sale, opponents are hitting a mere .125 in at-bats that ended with a changeup. Going into Wednesday’s game, Boston was hitting .184 against changeups in the last month.
- Jose Abreu drilled his 28th home run of the season in the first inning. Only Mark McGwire (33) had more before the All-Star break in his rookie season. “El Oso” indeed.
- Conor Gillaspie hadn’t homered until the month of July. Gillaspie hit his third home run of the season on Wednesday.
Oh, thanks for coming, Johnny.
Remember, Thursday ends the Final Vote for the last All-Star Game positions. #TargetSale … or you don’t love the White Sox.
— #TargetSale (@whitesox) July 10, 2014