Chicago White Sox reliever Bennett Sousa threw a wild pitch, allowing Freddie Freeman to take second base during the sixth inning Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
With two outs and the Sox trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by two runs, the ball made the count 1-2 as the left-hander Sousa faced right-handed-hitting Trea Turner.
Sox manager Tony La Russa elected to intentionally walk Turner, bringing up the left-handed-hitting Max Muncy. The cleanup hitter made the Sox pay, hitting a three-run homer to left.
Some decisions work. That one didn’t for the Sox, who lost 11-9 in front of 25,482.
The move became an instant topic of discussion locally and nationally.
“So let me ask you a question: Is there some question on whether that was a good move or not?” La Russa asked afterward. “Do you know what (Turner) hits against left-handed pitching with one (strike), 0-1, or two strikes, do you know what he hits? Do you know what Muncy hits with two strikes, against a left-handed pitcher. Is that really a question?
“Because it was 1-2? Turner with a strike left against a left-hander is something you avoid if you can, and we had an open base and Muncy being the guy behind him, and that’s a better matchup. If somebody disagrees, that’s the beauty of this game. Welcomed to it. But that wasn’t a tough call.”
A fan on the television broadcast was heard saying after the decision: “He has two strikes, Tony!”
Muncy, who returned from the injured list after missing 11 games with left elbow inflammation, had five RBIs and told reporters covering the Dodgers: “The baseball mind in me gets it. Obviously my year has sucked up to this point (slashing .150/.327/.263 in 41 games). Trea’s been really good (slashing .303/.357/.482 in 56 games). At the moment (after the homer), I was animated and I’ll just leave it at that. …
“But at the same time, I don’t know if walking someone with two strikes is ever the right move. I understood it now, but at the time you get little animated.”
It was a tough loss for the Sox, who had a chance for a series win against one of the best teams in baseball. Instead, they saw a four-run lead evaporate and lost two of three to the Dodgers.
It started to unravel for the Sox in the fifth inning, when the Dodgers scored six unearned runs.
Leading 4-0, Sox starter Dylan Cease allowed a single and a walk with one out. Third baseman Jake Burger committed a fielding error on an Austin Barnes grounder, loading the bases for Mookie Betts.
Cease struck out Betts, but Freeman drove in two with a double. Turner hit a slow grounder to third and beat Burger’s throw to first, extending the inning and bringing in another run.
Muncy followed with a two-run double, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. The sixth run scored on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Foster.
“Lost a game today, I take full responsibility for that,” Burger said. “I need to be better in the field.”
Burger had two hits, including a home run, and scored three times before leaving in the ninth with cramping.
“I feel comfortable at the plate and slowing the game down, and now I have to translate that into the field,” Burger said. “That’s part of the game, and you’ve got to be good on both sides of the ball.”
Cease exited after 4⅔ innings, allowing the six unearned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.
“I battled and that’s sometimes the way it goes,” Cease said.
The sixth inning got off to a sluggish start for the Sox when Gavin Lux hit a grounder to first but beat Sousa to the bag for an infield hit. With one out, Betts hit a grounder to third. Burger bobbled it momentarily, recovered and got an out at first.
Freeman drove in Lux with a single. Then came the wild pitch, intentional walk and three-run homer, stretching the Dodgers’ lead to 10-5.
“Turner with no strikes, one strike or two strikes is very dangerous against right and especially left,” La Russa said. “Now if maybe (right-handed-hitting Will) Smith was hitting behind him it would have been a different thing. Muncy is there so it’s an easy call for me. I mean, if (Sousa) gives up a hit there (to Turner), I would be walking into the lake or something because that would have been stupid. And he did get a hit, Muncy, got behind him and threw a slider he didn’t break. To his credit, instead of trying to hook it, he played it (to left field).
“I don’t get surprised too often, but that one, does anybody in this room really think, even with the count, should have gone after Turner? I would say that’s no chance. Muncy is the guy to get out of the inning. We just missed him.”
The Sox scored twice in the eighth and brought the tying run at the plate with no outs. But Adam Engel and Josh Harrison struck out, and Danny Mendick flied out to right.
The Dodgers scored once in the top of the ninth and the Sox answered with two to get within 11-9. They brought the potential winning run to the plate with one out, but Yasmani Grandal popped out to third in foul territory and Gavin Sheets struck out.
“We’re disappointed but we’re not putting our heads down,” Cease said. “We have a lot of work to do. There is still a lot of season left. We’ll let this one go and come back tomorrow.”
Source: Berkshire mont