CHICAGO – Squandering a five-run, first-inning lead isn’t a good way to convince your general manager he should keep the team together.
After blowing a 5-0 lead en route to a 19-10 loss in Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox are running out of time. The Sox followed that performance by falling behind 4-0 in Game 2 before they even had an at-bat. If it wasn’t yet clear to general manager Rick Hahn, who is expected to address the team’s struggles today, it should be now. This season is a lost cause for the Sox.
“We are all really close in here. I don’t think losing games or how we lose a game is going to affect that,” Game 1 starting pitcher Hector Santiago said. “It’s still a great group of guys. Everybody is trying to back each other up and be behind each other. I don’t think something like this is going to tear us apart.”
The most frustrating part for manager Robin Ventura and the Sox has been their inability to put together a complete game. Ventura is beginning to sound like a broken record, and it's becoming the same old tiresome story for the Sox. When they have a great outing by their starting pitcher, their offense fails to show up or their defense botches routine plays leading to unearned runs. On Friday, it was the pitchers’ turn to shoulder the blame. According to Fangraphs, the Sox's win expectancy was 90.4 percent when Alejandro De Aza walked in his second at-bat of the first inning against the Indians.
How quickly that changed.
Santiago, given a five-run advantage after the first inning, subsequently surrendered five runs on six hits in the second inning and with one out in the third inning he had to be pulled from the game. Unfortunately for the Sox, reliever Brian Omogrosso picked up where Santiago left off. The Indians tagged Omogrosso for nine runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings.
It eventually got so bad for the Sox that Ventura turned to outfielder Casper Wells to pitch the ninth in order to save the bullpen for Game 2. Wells was the only one of five Sox pitchers to not allow a hit during his outing in Game 1.
Left-hander Jose Quintana immediately put the Sox in a hole to start Game 2 by allowing four runs in the first, which included three consecutive singles to lead off and a bases-loaded walk.
“You just scratch your head,” Ventura said. “You don't see that coming as far as Hector going out there and not getting through four. It's unusual. It's just one of those where they club you around.”
Compounding Ventura’s frustrations: Outfielder Dayan Viciedo had another blunder, this time on the base paths, when he ignored third base coach Joe McEwing’s stop sign and then half-heartedly ran home. He was easily thrown out to end the eighth, and Ventura immediately removed him from the game.
“I think it bothers everybody,” Ventura said. “Again, you take care of it and make sure they know it and you don't want to see it again.”
Ultimately, the onus is on the players to mentally and physically be prepared every day because right now, they’re making it easy for Hahn to justify trading away any player whose name isn’t Chris Sale or Paul Konerko.
“You hear stuff and hear trades and this guy is moving here, but you try not to worry about it,” Santiago said. “You go out and play ball and hopefully the next game is a little better than what happened here in this game.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.