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White Sox 'pick poison' vs. Ramirez, pay price

With 2 outs in 9th, Chicago falls to Tribe on walk-off homer
@scottmerkin
May 8, 2019

CLEVELAND -- With two outs and Francisco Lindor on first, White Sox manager Rick Renteria had the situation he wanted during Cleveland’s 5-3 victory Wednesday night at Progressive Field. Kelvin Herrera was on the mound, back from a two-day absence caused by lower back tightness, replacing Jace Fry. Jose Ramirez

CLEVELAND -- With two outs and Francisco Lindor on first, White Sox manager Rick Renteria had the situation he wanted during Cleveland’s 5-3 victory Wednesday night at Progressive Field.

Kelvin Herrera was on the mound, back from a two-day absence caused by lower back tightness, replacing Jace Fry. Jose Ramirez was at the plate, hitting a meager .197 for the season and .174 from the left side as opposed to .257 as a right-handed hitter.

Ramirez was 1-for-10 lifetime against Herrera entering the night. So even after Lindor swiped second and Herrera fell behind in the count 3-1 to Ramirez, Renteria didn’t think about putting him on first to face Carlos Santana.

That plan backfired on the White Sox, when Ramirez launched a walk-off blast to right against a stern wind. It was the 10th Cleveland walk-off against the White Sox since 2013.

Box score

“It’s pick your poison,” Renteria said. “You have a potential closer, setup guy there’s no question what those guys can do. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, and today it didn’t happen. It didn’t work out. No question in my mind how we should attack or not attack this guy.”

“Just fell behind in the count and wanted to throw my best pitch there, the fastball,” Herrera said. “I left it up in the middle, paid the price.”

Santana has a 2-for-17 career ledger against Herrera, with the two hits being home runs, and eight strikeouts. So Herrera had similar success against both middle-of-the-order presences.

Fry opened the inning by going 3-0 on pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow but came back to strike him out. Renteria did not want to stay with the southpaw after Lindor singled and Jason Kipnis swung through a cutter for a third strike.

“No, he got us the outs he needed to get,” Renteria said. “We got him out of there doing well. We had our guy we’ve wanted to get back out there now, fresh, and he left a pitch up and the guy hit it out of the ballpark.”

The 412-foot blast from Ramirez punctuated a back-and-forth battle between the American League Central rivals that featured a missed scoring opportunity for the White Sox in the first and two prime chances wasted by the Indians in the fifth and sixth.

José Abreu’s ninth home run gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the third. It was Abreu’s 155th career homer, moving him past Bill Melton for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list. Ryan Cordell’s two-run single off Shane Bieber in the seventh tied the game at 3.

Reynaldo Lopez allowed three runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. But he was not satisfied with his effort.

“I allowed too many hits with two strikes,” said Lopez through interpreter Billy Russo. “That’s something that can’t happen. I missed a few pitches more than I wanted. That’s something else that can’t happen. That’s unacceptable for me.”

Giving up the walk-off home run to Ramirez was basically unacceptable to Herrera. But it was still the right man in the right situation for the White Sox, with the wrong result.

“I've got pretty good numbers against Ramírez,” Herrera said. “It was bad location. The fastball there was not in enough.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.