Last season, it seemed like many players and fans were behind current manager Ricky Renteria. The overused slogan, “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit,” came and went and was used whenever anything remotely exciting occurred. I bought into it for a bit, but at this point, I’m absolutely sick of it. Ricky has certainly quit on “His Boys.”
The mismanagement by Renteria has been an issue all season, but it particularly showed during the two-game series in Washington.
In Tuesday night’s heartbreaker, the Sox got off to an early 5-0 lead after tagging Stephen Strasburg early. It seemed as if the magic from last week’s homestand was here to stay. The boys were celebrating in the dugout and morale was high.
BUT THEN… Reynaldo Lopez had another subpar outing on the bump. One thing leads to another, and Anthony Rendon blasts a three-run bomb to give the Nasty Nats the lead for good. Obviously, a big chunk of this blame goes on the shoulders of ReyLo. When you’re given a 5-0 lead in the second inning against an ace like Strasburg, you need to keep that lead. Plain and simple. That is the baseball gods granting you a gift, and those don’t come all too often. However, it’s clear that Lopez hasn’t had his best stuff all season. While many players have taken steps forward this season, he’s walked a few miles in the wrong direction. In a rebuild, growing pains are expected. This type of thing happens, and as White Sox fans we’ve seen this quite a bit.
But the remaining chunk of the blame has to go on Ricky’s shoulders. He needs to know the tendencies of his players better than anyone else (at times, even better than the players themselves). When he sees Lopez struggle like he has been lately, he needs to yank him before implosion occurs, just like in his other starts. It’s clear that he didn’t have the same stuff that he had in his 14-strikeout performance against Detroit, and in a game like this, you can’t wait around for him to find it. Instead, he left his pitcher out there to get shelled instead of minimizing the damage and still holding onto some sort of lead. I didn’t watch this game because I was on a flight to see the finale of this series. But from what I read when I landed, it was clear Lopez needed to go and Ricky just didn’t make a move until it was far too late and the damage was done. Go figure.
It was a tough pill to swallow getting off the plane and seeing the nine-run swing happen. For a brief moment, it definitely took the wind out of the sails of this quick 24-hour trip. Anyway, I went into Wednesday’s matchup with hope for something better.
Once again, what a letdown!
Just like Tuesday’s game, other factors exist that resulted in a loss. Not scoring runs in the second inning when they had the bases juiced and nobody out hurts. Likewise, three errors doesn’t scream clean baseball either, especially Tim Anderson’s dropped pop up that resulted in more runs. But even with all of this, the Sox were still in a position to win this game. The bats came through clutch in the eighth to tie up the game with back-to-back home runs off the bats of Jose Abreu and Welington Castillo.
A huge chance to take the lead came up the next inning when Tim Anderson hit a single to start things off in the ninth. If you’ve watched more than one game this year, it’s clear that TA has some wheels. He loves embarrassing pitchers and catchers by swiping bases. For the Nationals, defensively-inept catcher Kurt Suzuki was behind the plate. If defensively-inept doesn’t paint a big enough picture for you, he’s 2-15 in catching baserunners on the season. Shaq making a free throw while Cody Parkey nails a field goal at the same time has a higher occurrence probability than Kurt Suzuki throwing out a runner. But, this isn’t just any runner; as I mentioned we’re talking about Tim Anderson here. With that in mind, Suzuki’s chances of success practically go down to zero. A competent manager would know all of this information going into the situation while being prepared to make the right call, which is to either let Tim steal second or by letting things play out with the pitcher spot coming up and using a pinch hitter. I prefer letting Tim steal in this situation, but the next best alternative is to have James McCann, who sports a .336 batting average, pinch hit and then stay in the game in place of the less capable fielder in Castillo.
In no situation is bunting your best move, so naturally what does Renteria do? He has Ryan Cordell pinch “hit” just so he could bunt. How did that turn out?
The Nats were fully prepared for this predictable outcome to happen as Rendon was playing in on the grass and Cordell bunted sharply at him for an easy out at second. The lack of execution is upsetting, but I was more upset at Renteria for putting his players in a position to fail by not having a clear grasp on the situation. What upsets me the most though is that Renteria went to the media and threw Cordell under the bus by saying if the bunt was executed better, the team would have been in a better position to succeed.
This is absolutely ludicrous to me. Seeing this play live, Cordell had little to no chance of successfully making the bunt work. Instead, I can think of more ways that the Sox would be in a better position to succeed that Renteria or the Sox won’t admit. How about if the White Sox had a manager that had a clue about what was going on? How about if said manager stuck up for their players when the outcome is really his fault? There’s no accountability from the top whatsoever, and that’s not the culture winning organizations want from their manager. These were two winnable games that slid away, and Ricky is at the top of the list in the blame game.
Now that “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” is long gone, maybe the White Sox organization quits on Ricky before he continues to quit on his players. Hopefully he didn’t renew his lease in Chicago, because this is getting old and the people calling for his firing are getting louder and angrier with a building arsenal of ammunition to work with.
Anyway, onto Kansas City. I hear Cease is doing his thing…
Featured Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune