To render the entire baseball community speechless is actually impressive, I will give him that. Are you guys enjoying the ride? Because I’d very much like to escape this ride. The campaign to #FireLaRussa is officially in full swing — but we will get to that, and analyze some of his unhinged decision-making along the way.
This game started out rather pleasantly, Dylan Cease looked fairly dominant through the first four innings, only giving up two hits while racking up six strikeouts and walking one. Cease had some of the best hitters in baseball looking like fools at the plate, ringing up five strikeouts among Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Max Muncy. Dylan has had some particularly strange outings this year, sometimes becoming dominated by walks; however, he looked ready to go today, and settled in quickly. He used a four-pitch arsenal, relying heavily on his slider and fastball, throwing 45% and 39% of each pitch. He recorded 68 strikes out of the whopping 110 pitches he threw — and let’s not forget the pitches down the middle that were called balls, but I digress. Moral of the story? Cease was dealing.
The White Sox offense was quickly kicked off with a leadoff single from Danny Mendick, who has been filling in very well in the absence of Tim Anderson. Things really got cooking for the South Siders when Josh Harrison smoked a leadoff triple to right field in the bottom of the third. Mendick drove him in on the next at-bat, and just like that the Good Guys were up to a 1-0 lead.
The bats got even hotter in the fourth, with a José Abreu walk followed by a Jake Burger single to begin the rally. AJ Pollock came up and sought revenge once again, ripping a ground-rule double to right field, scoring another run to increase the lead to 2-0. Yasmani Grandal walked after that, reminding us why we like Yaz, and also forcing Tyler Anderson out of the game. Prior to today’s game, Anderson had only dished out six walks all season and today he walked three White Sox batters.
White Sox drawing walks? I almost didn’t believe my eyes.
Brusader Graterol came in to relieve for the Dodgers, and he did not fare any better, hitting Adam Engel with his first pitch. In the next at-bat, Harrison found himself an RBI for once and scored Pollock on a sacrifice fly. South Siders up, 4-0!
Everything was fine and dandy until the South Side defense failed miserably behind Cease in the fifth inning, breaking the door open for the Dodgers to come all the way back, and then some. While Burger was having a great day at the plate, he struggled quite a bit at third base, making two errors and paving the way for a six-run L.A. rally. Mookie Betts struck out in the next at-bat, and La Russa opted to leave Cease in, even though it was clear the young righty was fading quickly.
Tony leaving a pitcher in too long? Well color me shocked.
TLR Big Brain Move #1: Leaving Cease to out die
Cease started the fifth with a lovely strikeout against Justin Turner, but quickly followed that up by giving up a walk and a base hit. Burger’s error loaded the bases, only for Cease to strike out Betts for the second time before giving up a two-run double to Freeman, bringing the Dodgers right back into the game at 4-2.
Two things can be true: Cease should be able to push through a jam and secure the last out, and Tony should be able to recognize when his players are simply running out of gas. Cease went on to face nine batters in the fifth, throwing 45 pitches out of his 110 total. For a guy that is obsessed with resting his players, it’s interesting that Tony would allow his starting pitcher reach 110 pitches through five innings — in June.
Was Tony sleeping in the dugout? Who knows at this point.
Tony La Russa didn't get someone up in the bullpen until just before Dylan Cease's 100th pitch.— Shane Riordan (@shane_riordan) June 9, 2022
You’d never know that the White Sox spent $80 billion, give or take, this past offseason bolstering the bullpen with how little La Russa seems to employ it to rescue his starters.
Matt Foster came in to relieve Cease, immediately walking Justin Turner and giving up the sixth run on a wild pitch. Nightmare fuel. Thanks to a strikeout of Cody Bellinger, the White Sox finally crawled out of this disastrous inning.
Burger came up in the bottom of the fifth, and launched a home run over the left-field wall at 109 mph — a man trying to make up for his mistakes, I can get behind that.
Unfortunately, in the end, it wouldn’t even matter.
Jake Burger felt bad so he hit a home run— Al Says: win please? (@baseball_gal_al) June 9, 2022
TLR Big Brain Move #2: Putting Bennett Sousa into a one-run game
Surely when you’re playing one of the best teams in baseball in a close game, you would summon your rookie reliever with a 6.50 ERA, right? Sousa got two outs within the first three batters of the inning, but naturally gave up a couple of hits, including one to Freeman to drive home the seventh Dodgers run of the game.
Then everything turned into a disaster once Trea Turner came to the plate.
TLR Big Brain Move #3: Intentionally walking a batter on a 1-2 count
This one, I truly have no words for, and TLR apologizers should sit this one out. Turner instantly fell behind in the count, with a called strike and a foul ball. Now anyone that watches baseball can understand that when a pitcher is ahead 0-2 on the batter, you’re not going to put a ball near the strike zone, because you have the wiggle room to work the count and the batter. That’s what Sousa did, sort of — ripping off a wild pitch that moved Freeman to second base and opening up first.
Hey, all of you fans who wanted the White Sox to hire a more analytics-minded manager? You got one, in Tony. Oh, wait, you wanted one who used metrics correctly? Nevermind.
See, in La Russa’s book, you call for an intentional walk to Turner — yes, with a 1-2 count — bringing Max Muncy to the plate. Muncy had just ripped a two-run double in the previous inning, and he clearly did not take well to the intentional walk, as he blasted a three-run home run to left, with the Dodgers taking the lead up 10-5.
It is honestly almost poetic, because truly, WTF was Tony thinking? The good news is that La Russa is being clowned by the entirety of the baseball community. The bad news is he is absolutely not going to be held accountable, and we have to continue to watch this clown show.
The guy screaming "He has two strikes, Tony!" after Tony La Russa intentionally walked Trea Turner on a 1-2 count to pitch to Max Muncy who proceeded to hit a three-run homer is peak chef's kiss. (via @NBCSWhiteSox)pic.twitter.com/C9yaR0ZdBU— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 9, 2022
Trea Turner is a .197 lifetime hitter in a 1-2 count.— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) June 9, 2022
Those are the numbers Tony La Russa wants everyone to know.
The White Sox gave themselves multiple chances to bring themselves back into the game, but they continue to choke in high-pressure situations, and even ended up stranding a collective 20 runners on base this game.
Abreu and Burger walked to start the eighth inning, followed by AJ Pollock getting a hit to load the bases. Now, let’s not forget that the White Sox are batting abysmally with the bases loaded (.125 BA and .188 OBP). The only team that is worse with the bases loaded are the Diamondbacks, who are batting .097 — big yikes for everyone. Grandal recorded an RBI on an infield hit, but that was swiftly followed by strikeouts from Adam Engel and Josh Harrison to effectively kill the rally.
TLR Big Brain Move #4: Not pinch-hitting Yoán Moncada for Josh Harrison
Many will argue that there would be no difference between batting Moncada vs. Harrison, but we know that Yoán has previously been clutch, and Josh has been the opposite of that. The main reason this move was so wild, was because Tony ended up putting Moncada into the game anyways ... as a defensive replacement, down three runs, at the same time taking your hottest hitter (Burger) out of the game.
The bullpen was rough this game, and Kyle Crick was the only reliever able to keep the Dodgers scoreless (though ReyLo struck out his only batter). José Ruiz came in to pitch with the White Sox down three in the ninth, only to give up another run off of two hits, pushing the deficit to four runs.
In White Sox fashion, they got our hopes up briefly in the ninth, loading the bases again, only to fall short two runs after two brutal game ending at-bats from Grandal and a pinch-hitting Gavin Sheets.
Honestly, at this point, I don’t even care that we lost. Tony deserved every bit of that loss, as well as all of the criticism that he is receiving. The intentional walk on a 1-2 count is the most indefensible thing he has done this season, and there is a substantial sample size of boners to choose from. The White Sox drop to 26-29, five games out of first place in the weakest division in baseball. At the beginning of the season, I was told that this team would have no problem taking the division, but here we are two months into the season, under .500 (again!), with a -57 run differential that projects to a 99-loss season.
Even with the expanded playoffs, the White Sox would not qualify if the season ended today. They are 4-6 over the last 10 games, and supposedly have one of the easiest schedules remaining in the league. I’ll believe it when I see it. There is still some hope for the South Siders to improve, with several key players returning from the IL in the coming weeks, but likewise, I’m not going to hold my breath.
One thing is for sure — this team is going nowhere with La Russa asleep at the wheel. I know it, White Sox fans know it, the rest of the league knows it, and the ones that make these kinds of decisions know, they just don’t care. It’s frustrating as fans, being gaslit by an organization that has been preaching about winning a World Series for the last six years — and it’s brutal to write the same old sob story time and time again.
Tomorrow the White Sox kick off a series against the Texas Rangers, who are 26-30. Let’s see if the Sox can bounce back these next three games.
But currently, I am definitely not enjoying the ride. How about you?
Are you currently Enjoying the Ride?
This poll is closed
Yes, in fact, this ride is quite enjoyable.
Why no, Kristina, this ride sort of sucks. Can I get off?
I don’t understand the question. Is this a meme?
I need more time to decide whether or not I like this ride. But thank you for asking.