DeJong's 'mental lapse' in 9th proves costly for Sox

June 22nd, 2024

DETROIT -- An eight-year veteran of Major League Baseball, knows how many outs constitute an inning. He understands how important it is that the White Sox get back on track, and he's well aware that when a team is struggling, every wrong move is amplified tenfold.

What DeJong didn't do following a costly baserunning error that ended the White Sox comeback hopes on Friday night was shy away from responsibility.

“It was a mental lapse there,” he admitted following the 2-1 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park. “I was worried about getting on base and just didn’t keep track of [the outs], so that’s totally on me and it cost us the game.”

There was one out in the top of the ninth when DeJong came up to the plate against Jason Foley. The closer unleashed a sinker that came in high and tight, and though DeJong checked his swing, the ball appeared to skim his right forearm. Home-plate umpire Carlos Torres awarded DeJong first base, which put the tying run on base and gave the White Sox late hope.

The Tigers challenged the play, causing a short delay while it was reviewed. When play resumed -- and the call confirmed -- pinch-hitter Andrew Benintendi stepped to the plate and stroked a line drive to center field for the second out of the game. Instead of hedging halfway to second base, DeJong rounded second as center fielder Matt Vierling made the catch and fired to the cutoff in one smooth motion. The relay to first base beat DeJong by several feet to complete the game-ending double play.

"I don't really want to make excuses," he said. "I've got to know the situation. Yes, I was a little emotionally invested in the review because I thought it was a hit-by-pitch. It just kind of maybe took a little bit of rhythm out of the game for me."

Starter Erick Fedde, who completed his third consecutive quality start with seven innings of two-run ball, shrugged off the miscue.

"Paul is a great guy," Fedde said. "He's been working his butt off all year for us. It's been great. You know, play 162 games, sometimes, we have brain farts. We've all been there. It's just one of those things where the guy's putting in work and doing what he needs to do, it's not something to jump on him for."

Manager Pedro Grifol, who echoed Fedde's sentiment, was just as ready as anyone to brush off the gaffe and try again tomorrow.

"They're professionals," Grifol said. "DeJong plays the game really hard every day, he prepares, and if he says he had a mental lapse, he had a mental lapse. That's part of [the game]. We're all human."