White Sox blow six-run lead in ninth, fall to Guardians in 11
The Guardians’ Josh Naylor hit a grand slam in the ninth to tie the score, then a three-run homer in the 11th to win it.
This one was in the bag.
And then it was out of the bag.
And down in the books as the worst White Sox defeat of the season, marred by four errors, blown chances to score late and bullpen failure.
“Brutal,” manager Tony La Russa said after the Guardians defeated the White Sox 12-9 in 11 innings behind a tying grand slam by Josh Naylor against Liam Hendriks with two outs in the ninth and a tiebreaking three-run homer by Naylor in the 11th against Ryan Burr. “Had a chance to put it away. That’s just a brutal loss, to give up six runs like that and a couple chances to win offensively.”
The Sox had an 8-2 lead going into the ninth and La Russa had to like the Sox’ chances — Baseball Savant gave the Guardians a 0.2% chance of winning in the ninth inning.
“It’s as tough a loss as you’re going to have,” La Russa said.
The result ended the Sox’ six-game winning streak, which had been accompanied by improved defense. But it was back to awful fielding again with four errors, including two by shortstop Tim Anderson. The Sox have made 26 errors in 28 games and allowed eight unearned runs in Monday’s loss.
Andres Gimenez also homered in the ninth, starting a comeback against lefty Tanner Banks aided by two Sox errors, and Gimenez had a go-ahead RBI double in the 10th against Reynaldo Lopez, who left the game with a sore back after taking warmup pitches before the 11th. Lopez was replaced by Burr.
“Yeah, it sucks,” Burr said. “I don’t know what else to say. Some days you are the windshield. Some days you are the bug. Unfortunately I was the bug today and I got squashed.”
Reese McGuire’s fielder’s choice brought Adam Engel home in the 10th to tie the score 9-9, but Jose Abreu hit into a force with the bases loaded and two outs.
AJ Pollock’s three-run homer in the eighth against Anthony Gose seemingly had put the game out of reach, giving the Sox an 8-2 lead.
Engel had a chance to win the game for the Sox in the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs, but Ramirez made a backhand stop behind third base and Naylor a good stretch at first to get Engel on a close play.
Wasted away was Michael Kopech’s six strong innings and right fielder Gavin Sheets’ three-run homer in a four-run first against Zach Plesac after Sheets dropped a fly ball that allowed the Guardians’ first run. Sheets was 4-for-32 in his previous 10 games
Kopech took a no-hitter into the fifth and allowed only an unearned run in six innings to lower his ERA to a glossy 0.93. He struck out seven and walked two in the latest display of strong pitching by Sox starters, who had a 2.30 ERA in their previous 13 games.
“I got back in the groove and competed in those last four innings,” Kopech said. “The first two I felt like I was all over the place. After I made that adjustment I feel like I gave the team a chance. Happy with it overall but obviously the outcome isn’t what we were looking for.”
“Not the best way to start a homestand,” Hendriks said. “What stings even more is that guys had to go out there. Obviously you can look at what our bullpen’s been doing, we’ve had a lot of innings, a lot of guys in there, and today I made it even worse.
“That’s as well as I can put it. Obviously I’ve struggled with runners on this year, especially other people’s, which is one of my pet peeves, I need to get better at that. I don’t know if it’s a mindset thing or what it is but it needs to get better and it needs to get better quickly.”
Naylor also had a run-scoring double in the eighth, giving him eight RBI for the night. He is the first player to hit two homers of three runs or more in the ninth inning or later of the same game. He’s the first player since at least 1974 to amass at least eight RBI from the eighth inning on.
The Sox (14-14) are 3-10 against the AL Central.