White Sox small miscues add up to tough loss
Botched safety-squeeze attempt, mistake pitches prove decisive in winnable game
DETROIT -- In the case of the White Sox execution Friday night at Comerica Park, manager Robin Ventura was all in favor of it during the latter stages of a 5-4 loss to the Tigers.
But as has been the case far too often for the South Siders during their 32-41 start to the 2015 season, things didn't go as planned. So a first-and-third, one-out situation against closer Joakim Soria in the ninth turned into a popped-up bunt by Carlos Sanchez when he elected the safety-squeeze option.
A 4-4 deadlock in the eighth quickly changed to the one-run Tigers lead when J.D. Martinez connected on a 1-0 fastball from Zach Duke. The little things that mean a lot once again eluded the White Sox.
"You just have to execute. On that pitch, I didn't execute," said Duke of the homer. "I just made a mistake. I wanted to go down and away with a fastball, and I missed the middle of the plate. He punished it, and unfortunately it was the deciding factor tonight."
"I was prepared for that situation, but I couldn't execute it," said Sanchez through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo of the bunt he popped up to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. "But I just tried to do the best in that situation. I couldn't this time."
After the team's 11th loss in 15 games, which also resulted in Jose Quintana's Major League-high 44th no-decision since 2012, Ventura explained the crucial late-inning calls.
He went to Jake Petricka in the seventh after Quintana allowed 11 hits over six innings and battled against one of the American League's most potent lineups. It was Petricka's fourth appearance since Sunday, and he yielded a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis on an 0-2 offering.
Duke was the best option in the eighth, although it was the southpaw's fourth appearance since Sunday as well. Daniel Webb replaced Duke with two outs after the homer.
Avisail Garcia opened the ninth with a double off of Soria, but Gordon Beckham struck out in the ensuing at-bat. Ventura was playing for the win and not the tie, allowing Beckham to take numerous shots toward right, before Soria dropped a 71-mph curve. That bunt option for Sanchez was designed to score Garcia and move pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck, who delivered a one-out single to left, into scoring position.
Sanchez said it was a tough pitch to handle inside, and if he had it to do over again, he would have let it go. One thing about the best-laid plans, though. They only fit into that category if they are executed properly.
"That's one of those that's a good play if you can get it on the ground," said Ventura of the bunt. "[Cabrera] has to hold, so not only do you get the guy in, you're going to get a guy into scoring position. You just have to make sure you get it on the ground or foul.
"Any time you have that guy sitting right there, a couple of guys on, you'd like to see it get done. Tonight it didn't."