CHICAGO -- An angry Ozzie Guillen jumped up from his postgame news conference and made a hasty exit. His bullpen had a late-inning meltdown for the third time in less than a week and it was eating at the emotional Chicago White Sox manager.
"I might call Bobby Thigpen to help us," he said of the former White Sox closer who saved 57 games in 1990.The White Sox carried a three-run lead into the ninth inning Wednesday, but three relievers struggled as the Oakland Athletics tied the game. They plated three more in the 10th for a 7-4 victory."When you have a bad bullpen, that's what happens. That's what happens," Guillen said.
What a difference a year makes. White Sox relievers Matt Thornton and Chris Sale were lights-out in 2010. This season has been a different story. Take a look at their combined numbers over the past two years:
*Doesn't include 6 unearned runs allowed by Thornton
Matt Thornton (0-2), who won the closer's job in the spring, blew his fourth save in as many chances. The White Sox also let leads slip away last Friday against Tampa Bay -- they led by three headed into the ninth before giving up five -- and in Monday night's home opener against the A's when they led 1-0 after eight before losing 2-1 in 10."Oh man," Thornton said. "There's nothing to even describe it right now. Frustration is pretty high. ... Confidence isn't the problem. It's my frustration right now. It's the most frustrated I've been in a long time. I can't remember a run of games like this where I haven't gotten the job done that many times in a row."Coco Crisp had the go-ahead single in the 10th after Thornton had walked two batters. Daric Barton then had a two-run single.Cliff Pennington's two-out, two-run single off Thornton in the ninth tied it at 4.With the White Sox leading 4-1 in the ninth, Chris Sale gave up a leadoff double to Conor Jackson, an RBI single to Josh Willingham and a single to Hideki Matsui. Jesse Crain came on and walked pinch-hitter Barton to load the bases before fanning Kurt Suzuki.Thornton then struck out pinch hitter Ryan Sweeney for the second out before No. 9 hitter Pennington dropped his clutch hit into center."I don't have any closer. I don't," Guillen said. "You are just scratching your head and second-guess yourself what you are doing wrong, bringing people to the mound with three-run lead ... and we can't hold the lead. That's not a good sign. Have we got the people out there with the arms? Yes."Sale pitched two innings Tuesday night and got the win. Guillen said before Wednesday's game he planned to avoid the young reliever for the day game."Three-run lead and he said he can go. That's the reason we put him there," Guillen said."Yesterday I was right where I needed to be. I tried to use that today. Just location. Leaving balls up and there were too many hittable pitches," Sale said.Oakland's rally denied John Danks a victory after he gave up a run and five hits in eight solid innings."Ten times out of 10 times we want the bullpen coming in with a three-run lead," Danks said. "We have every confidence in the world. I know they have gotten off to kind of a slow start. These guys can pitch, man. These guys have good stuff. We want them out there."The White Sox broke a 1-all tie in the sixth against Oakland starter Brett Anderson when Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch, Alex Rios doubled and a sliding Quentin scored on Ramon Castro's grounder to third that drew a high throw to the plate from Kevin Kouzmanoff.Brent Morel dropped down a bunt to score Rios from third for a 3-1 lead. Juan Pierre's third single of the game chased Anderson (0-2), who was hurt by his own error in the fifth. Anderson gave up nine hits and three runs -- two earned -- in 5 2/3 innings.Chicago added a run in the eighth when Rios walked, stole second, moved up on a sacrifice and scored on Kouzmanoff's throwing error.
Pierre reached base five times Wednesday -- on three hits,
an error and a walk. ... Guillen said the
fans' reaction to Pierre on Tuesday night, giving him a mock cheer
every time he catches a fly ball, was unfair to the left fielder.
Pierre twice dropped fly balls during the current homestand that
led to late meltdowns and losses by the White Sox. "He doesn't
deserve that," Guillen said. There were a few boos in the third
inning Wednesday when Pierre fumbled Pennington's single for an
error, allowing him to advance to second base. Pierre now has three
errors in 12 games. He made only one error in the previous
two seasons combined, a span of 305 games.
16,523 (40.7% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
65 degrees, partly cloudy
Home Plate - Dan Iassogna, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - Jerry Meals, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor
From Elias: The White Sox bullpen has now blown six saves in their first 12 games of the season. Since 1990, they are only the second team to blow at least six saves in the first 12 games of a season. That other team was the 2005 Rockies, who also blew six saves.
From Elias: Matt Thornton of the White Sox blew a save again on Wednesday. He has blown the save in each of his last four appearances. Since 1990 (which is as far back as Elias can go with game-by-game blown save information), Thornton is just the third pitcher to have four consecutive blown save appearances.
Brian Fuentes for the Rockies in 2007 and Tyler Clippard of the Nationals in May 2010