La Russa takes blame for Sox loss: 'I did a really lousy job' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Tony La Russa wasn't on the mound. He wasn't throwing pitches. He wasn't playing defense.
But the White Sox manager took the blame as his team look an ugly loss Wednesday to close out their series with the Seattle Mariners.
The White Sox allowed seven runs in a nightmarish bottom of the sixth inning, a 4-1 lead flipping to a 8-4 deficit that stuck as the final score, sending the South Siders to a 3-4 record on their season-opening road trip.
"I did a really lousy job managing that inning," La Russa said. "It really hurt our chances to win."
The inning started with starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel issuing a leadoff walk, and that rapidly spiraled into a tough jam when a pop up dropped between Nick Madrigal and Adam Eaton in right field, Eaton committing a throwing error when his heave back to the infield missed Danny Mendick at second base. That put two runners in scoring position and brought an end to Keuchel's day.
But it was Matt Foster who played the unfortunate starring role as things unraveled from there, the reliever facing eight hitters and giving up hits to five of them, walking another. Five of the Mariners' seven runs in the frame went on Foster's tab, this just three days after he was the one to serve up the walk-off homer to Jared Walsh that beat the White Sox on Sunday night.
As the Mariners kept reaching base, the White Sox bullpen stayed quiet, and La Russa's decision to do that is what led the skipper to call his work "lousy" after the game.
"That’s the clearest example of why I’m upset with myself," La Russa said. "He faced too many hitters. That’s lousy managing. ... Pushed him too far. Stupid, lousy, no excuse.
"We were really set up to pitch the last four innings of the game, we had all those innings covered. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do, and we paid the price with all those extra runs.
"I don’t enjoy saying it, but I enjoy it less not taking responsibility."
The story of the game was told in that disastrous frame for the White Sox. But the same things that have troubled them throughout the first week of the campaign were all present Wednesday.
Keuchel got just 15 outs. No White Sox starter has gotten more than 16 in a single outing, Lucas Giolito going 5.1 innings in each of his two starts. Keuchel's at just nine innings two times through.
Though La Russa assured fans that the team's defensive play is nothing to be concerned about, it's been impossible to ignore the misplays as they've piled up. The White Sox have seven errors on the season, not to mention other moments that didn't go down as E-whoever in the scorebook but still contributed to the negative fielding aesthetic. Eaton's throwing error was joined by a catcher's interference on Yasmani Grandal earlier in Wednesday's game.
Situational hitting, or a lack thereof, has loomed large for the White Sox. Not every game has been the 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position they threw up Sunday in Anaheim. They scored 12 runs in the second game of that series, then 16 over the first two in Seattle. But they stranded nine runners Wednesday, unable to cash in completely on the whopping 10 walks that were issued by Mariners pitchers. Following the sixth-inning collapse, the White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out, only for Zack Collins to pop out and Luis Robert to line into an inning-ending double play.
And then there's the bullpen. Foster's been in the eye of the storm a couple times now, but Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer and Liam Hendriks — the vaunted back end of the South Side relief corps — have had their own struggles in just a week of action. Bummer's dream of going 90-0 with a late lead is officially dead. The White Sox already have three blown saves.
The White Sox return to the South Side on Thursday for the home opener against the Kansas City Royals. And while a 3-4 road trip is not the worst thing that could have happened, fans haven't been at all pleased with the start to a season with World Series expectations.
La Russa vowed not to let the bad feelings from Wednesday carry over into Thursday and beyond.
"You don’t want to mess up tomorrow because you can't let go of today," he said. "You learn. Sometimes you learn more from issues than you do from the things that work.
"Part of what you do is you take responsibility. That’s what I’m doing. But I’m not going to take it over to tomorrow. The only thing worse than costing a club a chance to win once is to do it twice."