TLR 'accountable for everything' after fans' frustration boils over

June 12th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Many of the 30,221 fans in attendance for Saturday’s contest with the Rangers lined up early at Guaranteed Rate Field to get the Hawaiian shirt giveaway,

They were also excited to watch a White Sox offense that produced 17 runs in its past two games after struggling for much of an overall disappointing start to the 2022 season. But that excitement turned to angst during the Rangers’ four-run 10th inning, leading to an 11-9 loss to the visitors.

Not just angst, but also boos, and even brief chants of “Fire Tony,” aimed at manager Tony La Russa, as the first five Texas hitters reached base in the extra frame. La Russa understood the fans’ disappointment when speaking about their reaction in his postgame media session.

“Well, I hear it with one ear and I see it with one eye,” La Russa said. “I appreciate they want us to win, and when we don’t win they’re unhappy. I’m pleased that they are, you know? We have the team to win, and we’re losing games. 

“Nobody in that clubhouse, including the manager and coaches, is happy. I like it when [fans] care enough to be upset.”

Every manager makes controversial decisions over the course of a 162-game season. Even the best of them, even Hall of Famers such as La Russa. But Saturday’s setback really didn’t fall in La Russa’s lap.

The White Sox squandered leads of 5-0 after four and 7-4 after five. Their high-leverage relievers such as Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo López and Aaron Bummer were unavailable, which La Russa talked about pregame Saturday without naming specific names. But it was starter Lucas Giolito who took the responsibility on his shoulders after giving up four runs over his five innings.

Giolito allowed all four runs in the fifth, which was punctuated by Adolis García’s three-run home run, after being staked to the big lead.

“I’m disgusted in myself for today. That’s all I can really say,” said Giolito, who fanned eight over his 81 pitches. “I go out and perform like I know I can, and we’re talking a lot differently right now.

“As a starting pitcher, when you have a lead like that getting to the midpoint of the game, that’s when it’s time to turn up the gas and keep riding, go deep, put up zeroes, keep up that momentum. I swung it over to their side. But those stressful innings put the bullpen in a tough position. They had to cover a lot of innings. Just need to be better. That’s it.”

Saturday’s setback featured another Jake Burger home run, giving him a team-high eight on the year, and nine of 10 players getting at least one hit. But the good news seemed to stop there.

Yasmani Grandal, who had two hits, left in the third inning with left hamstring tightness after running to first on a single and was being further evaluated postgame. La Russa indicated another catcher would be added Sunday, with Reese McGuire and Danny Mendick as the only two options on the active roster.

The Twins’ victory over the Rays dropped the White Sox (27-30) to six games back in the American League Central; they also fell to 13-16 at home. They have a 4-5 record when scoring seven runs or more, with the bulk of the overall disappointment being placed upon La Russa’s shoulders.

“I’ve said before, I learned you’re accountable for everything. Right?” La Russa said. “Anything that is happening with this team, in the end, I’m responsible. You figure that out.

“If you don’t like the record, [it’s my] responsibility. If you don’t like the moves? Whatever it is. Never have dodged accountability, and I won’t start now.”

Before departing on a six-game road trip to Detroit and Houston, the White Sox have a chance to win the Texas series Sunday afternoon. La Russa will be at the helm, and the players, while not dismissing fans’ consternation, will be standing behind a family clubhouse theme preached since Spring Training.

“They have a right to voice their opinion,” Burger said. “They are coming to the game and they can say whatever they want. I know this clubhouse is a family and we are going to stick together no matter what. You can have outside opinions, but this clubhouse, we are tight and it’s a family.”

“Fans are going to have their own opinions. A lot of colorful opinions at times,” Giolito said. “We focus on, put a little bubble around it, focus on the game, trying to keep it close in extra innings and mount that comeback. [We] just fell short.

“Again, responsibility falls on me, even letting the door open in the fifth inning. It could have gone way differently.”