A blown six-run, ninth-inning lead doesn’t come out of nowhere, not with these White Sox. It comes from having a team with fundamental issues, the biggest being a complete lack of self-belief.
Saturday’s meltdown was not a blip or an unfortunate occurrence or a bad day. It was an indictment.
When a manager allows his clearly struggling closer to keep pitching while the rubble falls, it’s not the sign of someone who played a hunch wrong, and it’s not the sign of a manager supporting his player. It’s the sign of a manager who has lost it.
When a reliever throws a wild pitch on an intentional walk in the ninth inning, well, say hello to the end.
The Sox would insist that the 8-7 loss to the Royals is in the rearview mirror, but so is the homicidal maniac in the backseat and so is the runaway semitrailer that is inches from the back bumper. That might help explain why the bullpen blew up again Sunday in a 5-4 loss to the Royals.
But it couldn’t match Saturday’s awfulness. Going into the bottom of the ninth inning leading 7-1 and then giving up seven runs to lose it is the natural outcome for a team that doesn’t have the fight to pull itself out of a tailspin. Remember all those early season stories about the Sox’ new spirit? The crazy Brett Lawrie and his fanged mouthguard? The energetic Adam Eaton? The spirit has moved.
Manager Robin Ventura has never been the emotional type, which is fine. But a calm hand on the tiller was not what was needed as closer David Robertson was falling apart in the ninth. Ventura should have raced out of the dugout to put Robertson out of his misery and rescue a game.
But this is a sleepy franchise through and through. So Robertson was left in to face eight batters and give up six runs. Ventura either hates Robertson or wants to be fired. Finally, Ventura brought in Tommy Kahnle, who threw the wild pitch on an intentional walk. The only thing missing was the clown car.
The Sox have lost 14 of their last 18 games, including five in a row. No, Saturday didn’t happen out of the blue. It happened as a result of all that losing. It was the eruption after all those smaller seismic events along the way. As the Sox wander around vacant-eyed, it’s hard to see them finding their way out of this.