KANSAS CITY -- Despite a six-run lead entering the ninth, White Sox manager Robin Ventura decided to bring in closer David Robertson to finish off the Royals. Instead, a seven-run rally off the bullpen led to an 8-7 loss on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite it being a non-save situation, Ventura said he wanted to be careful given how the White Sox had played in recent games. He added there hadn't been that many opportunities to use Robertson, who had previously pitched five days earlier.
"You get to that ninth, and the way games have been going, you go to the guy to close it out," Ventura said. "Today, we couldn't close it out."
It took four pitches for Robertson to get the first out. By the time the second out was recorded, his pitch count was up to 23, and the score was 7-5.
"They just keep coming at you," catcher Alex Avila said.
At one point in the ninth, Ventura came to the mound to talk to Robertson. Rather than pulling him, Ventura said he only wanted to talk with Robertson about how to face the next batter with the bases loaded. Four hits and two walks later, Ventura came out to lift his closer.
"That was a terrible performance on my part," Robertson said. "I pitched really poorly and let the whole team down."
Robertson had two real chances to escape the inning before he was replaced by Tommy Kahnle, who took the loss after giving up the winning two-out single by Brett Eibner. Robertson's first opportunity to get out of a jam came right after the first meeting with Ventura.
On the sixth pitch of the ensuing at-bat, Whit Merrifield hit the ball right back at Robertson. Robertson said he felt he had a chance at it, but was unable to make the play as the ball deflected off his glove. Merrifield's infield single made it 7-4.
"The worst part about it was looking back and seeing Brett [Lawrie] was right there," Robertson said. "If I had just let it go, I would've gotten myself out of the inning."
The second chance to escape came one batter later. Lorenzo Cain grounded into a forceout, just narrowly beating out the double play. The Royals pulled to 7-5 before two more doubles tied it.
"You finally get to a point where he was done," Ventura said. "It's tough. Especially after yesterday [blowing a lead late in a 7-5 loss to the Royals]."
After the game, a frustrated Robertson shouldered the blame. He credited left-hander Carlos Rodon for a good start, and he credited how the offense played before owning the responsibility for the loss.
"Everyone did their job except for me," Robertson said. "It's a tough one to take. I blew the game today."