A walk-off loss to one of the worst teams in baseball?
Ending on an error on an easy play? After three baserunning mistakes?
A White Sox team that had won four in a row and 16 of 20 lost 5-4 to the host Pirates in giveaway, walk-off fashion Tuesday night, blowing 3-0 and 4-2 leads that might have been bigger had rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal not been thrown out at home and third. Tim Anderson was picked off first base, adding to the miscues on the bases.
Having it end with catcher Yasmani Grandal dropping a short flip from Jimmy Cordero on a force play at home was a fitting finish on a rough night for relievers Evan Marshall and Ross Detwiler, who have been effective, reliable components of manager Rick Renteria’s bullpen but were not in the eighth and ninth innings Tuesday.
“There were a couple of things, especially on my part,” said Madrigal, who raised his average to .391 with his first extra-base hits, both doubles. But he ran past third-base coach Nick Capra and was out on a ground ball to shortstop in the eighth inning.
“I know we can play better baseball, but I know this one hurts,” Madrigal said.
Right-hander Dylan Cease gave up two runs in the fifth after breezing through four scoreless innings and was pulled after 79 pitches after Adam Frazier led off the sixth with a single and the Sox leading 3-2.
“I did pretty well. I’m happy with the fact I didn’t walk anybody,” said Cease, who struck out two. “It was OK.”
Cease seemed to understand why Renteria didn’t hesitate to yank him. He seemed like he had more but Renteria said Cease “was out of outs.”
“I understand we’re treating every game like the playoffs,” Cease said. “At this point I pitch when told to pitch and come out when I come out.”
It was a tough finish for Grandal, who belted a two-run homer but also dropped a foul pop over the rail of the Pirates dugout in addition to failing to make the easy putout on a close play in the ninth. Cordero fielded Kevin Newman’s slow roller in front of the mound and would have forced pinch runner Jason Martin at home.
Marshall gave up two runs to tie it up and Detwiler gave up singles to Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell to open the ninth. Closer Alex Colome was warming up.
“I was keeping Colome for the save,” Renteria said. “We had him up in the previous inning and then when we came out for this one, it was for Cordero to go ahead and help Detwiler. We had the righties at the bottom of the order coming up, and so it was a good spot for Cordero to try to get through. Obviously he got the little nubber in front of the plate. If we make that play, we’re still out there and maybe he gets a ground ball double play or something and we’re back out there still playing.”
Before Grandal’s homer, his eighth hit in 17 at-bats, Anderson was sharp on the bases racing home from second on Yoan Moncada’s two-hop smash off second baseman Newman’s glove for the Sox’ first run.
The Pirates cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth on Josh Bell’s double, Ke’Bryan Hayes’ triple just over right fielder Nomar Mazara’s glove at the right field wall and Newman’s infield single.
Jose Abreu singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 21 games, matching his career high. Abreu then scored on Eloy Jimenez’s double to give the Sox a 4-2 lead.
“It was a tough one,” Cease said, “but we’ll come back tomorrow.”