White Sox manager Tony La Russa defends decision to pull starter Dallas Keuchel on Saturday
Keuchel has pitched into the sixth inning only once this season, and he blew nearly all of a three-run lead in Boston.
Check the numbers.
That was manager Tony La Russa’s response to left-hander Dallas Keuchel’s disappointment that he didn’t get to pitch into the sixth inning of the White Sox’s 3-2 victory Saturday against the Yankees.
‘‘We, the team, are mostly appreciative and excited about the five innings he pitched,’’ La Russa said in a deliberate tone Sunday. ‘‘I think his history, since I’ve been here, the sixth inning has been not good.’’
In 2021, La Russa’s first season in his second stint as the Sox’ manager, opponents batted .371 with a 1.102 OPS in the sixth inning against Keuchel. In Keuchel’s third time through the batting order, opponents batted .324 with a .915 OPS. And when Keuchel’s pitch count was in the 76 to 100 range, opponents batted .347 with a .922 OPS.
Keuchel was pulled after working out of a bases-loaded jam to end the fifth and was at 86 pitches, with Giancarlo Stanton (who was 2-for-2), Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres scheduled to bat in the sixth.
‘‘With the middle of that lineup, I wish all decisions were that easy,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I appreciate the competitor being disappointed. I was disappointed when I didn’t play, but I knew I wasn’t good enough. So you’ve got to mix in some common sense.’’
Keuchel has pitched into the sixth only once this season, and he blew nearly all of a three-run lead against the Red Sox in Boston. The Sox also haven’t provided him with an abundance of run support in his last two starts, which figured into La Russa’s decision to pull him despite Keuchel wanting to preserve much of a well-worked bullpen with an eight-game, seven-day trip starting Monday.
‘‘One of the highest priorities during the game is what’s happening, what we have left, what’s going to happen [Monday] and beyond,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘So if we had a six-run lead, he would have pitched the sixth inning, but [we would have] had to have someone standing next to the phone [in the bullpen].
‘‘Like I was saying, you can check the numbers. And it’s something that maybe he’s not aware of them. So I’ll make him aware of them. And it didn’t work out the last time he pitched against Boston.’’
Uniforms in demand
The Sox wore their 1983 replica uniforms for the first time this season, and La Russa reminisced about the growing popularity because of the Sox’ success.
‘‘I remember they were not real popular at the time,’’ La Russa said of the uniforms, which first were worn in 1982. ‘‘As we played better, they looked better. It really depends on how we play.’’
La Russa said he took pride simply in the opportunity to wear a major-league uniform, but he admitted he was fond of the navy-blue attire the Sox wore when he took over as their manager midway through the 1979 season.
‘‘It was very easy to put on,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘You just wear your shirt out.’’
The arrival of the 1983 uniforms this year was delayed by the supply-chain shortage.
Right-hander Dylan Cease (3-1, 3.55 ERA) is expected to start one of the games of the doubleheader Tuesday against the Royals. Right-hander Lucas Giolito (2-1, 2.70) is expected to return from the COVID list to start Monday or Tuesday. Right-hander Johnny Cueto is expected to be called up from Triple-A Charlotte to start Monday or Tuesday.
In winning three of four games against the Sox, the Yankees improved to 11-2 against the American League Central this season. They are 33-12 against the division since the start of last season.
Former Sox infielder Gordon Beckham will fill in for analyst Steve Stone on NBC Sports Chicago’s telecasts this week in Kansas City and New York. The exception will be ESPN’s ‘‘Sunday Night Baseball’’ telecast at Yankee Stadium.