On Saturday, Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa found himself defending a decision to bunt that did not work out.
Not many things offensively worked out for the Chicago White Sox, and they look to rebound from striking out a season-high 16 times when they host the Detroit Tigers in the finale of a four-game series on Sunday.
After striking out 11 times in five innings against starter Tarik Skubal, the White Sox seemed poised to go ahead after scoring two runs in the sixth against Derek Holland to get within one run in an eventual 4-3 loss.
With runners at first and second and still nobody out in the sixth, Danny Mendick bunted into a force play and Kyle Funkhouser retired the next two batters to end the rally. Chicago never had another runner reach base the rest of the way.
“The bunt is not an aggressive play, and it didn’t work,” La Russa said. “That was an aggressive play, and it didn’t work. So make of it whatever you want to. That’s one good thing about watching the game, you know what my strategy was.”
The unsuccessful bunt was part of a day when the White Sox struck out more than 14 times for the first time this season and fell to 6-11 when striking out more than 10 times this year. Every starter except Nick Madrigal struck out, while Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and rookie Andrew Vaughn combined for seven strikeouts.
Despite the loss, the White Sox are on a decent run with nine wins in 13 games since getting swept by the New York Yankees in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium two weekends ago.
The Tigers are seeking to win or split their third straight series. Since four straight losses May 22-25, they are 6-4 with three one-run wins.
On Saturday, the Tigers got two homers from Eric Haase, who has three multi-homer games since being called up last month. Miguel Cabrera also hit his 492nd career homer Saturday, as Detroit hit at least three homers for the eighth time this season, with three of them against the White Sox.
The tight victory came a day after Detroit took a 9-8 loss Friday when Jose Cisnero allowed a game-ending single to rookie Yermin Mercedes. This time, Detroit’s pitching set a season-high with 16 strikeouts and did not allow anyone to reach after the sixth.
“Yesterday kind of left a bad taste in our mouth,” Haase said. “We worked our (expletive) off and came up just a little bit short. For the bullpen to come in and do a fantastic job today, slam the door shut (and) hold on to that lead was awesome.
After Lucas Giolito allowed three homers, Chicago hopes Dylan Cease (3-2, 3.79 ERA) can continue his success against Detroit.
Cease is 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in six career starts against the Tigers.
Cease is facing Detroit for the second time this season. His best start of the season was against the Tigers in the nightcap of a doubleheader on April 29 when he tossed a three-hitter and fanned nine in an 11-0 win in seven innings.
He also is looking to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season. On Tuesday in Cleveland, Cease allowed season highs of six runs and eight hits while matching a season-low with 3 1/3 innings.
Detroit’s Jose Urena (2-4, 4.14 ERA) is expected to be activated from the injured list following a short stay due to a strained right forearm. Urena last pitched May 26 against Cleveland, when he allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 1-0 win.
Urena’s absence was expected to be short, as manager AJ Hinch said he was confident it would not be a lengthy injury recovery and Urena threw a bullpen session Thursday without pain.
Urena is facing the White Sox for the second time in his career. On April 27 in Chicago, he allowed two runs (one earned) and seven hits in seven innings in Detroit’s 5-2 win.
–Field Level Media