Bullpen continues to plague White Sox
CHICAGO -- After another blown save and some hard-hit balls in the ninth inning, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is growing more restless with his bullpen situation.
Another ninth-inning error by Juan Pierre didn't help new closer Matt Thornton, but there was plenty more for Guillen to chew on when it came to another victory slipping through the White Sox's fingers on Monday.
In blowing his third save attempt this season, Thornton failed to protect a one-run lead in the ninth when he gave up a double to Andy LaRoche to lead off the inning, followed by a blistering line drive by Coco Crisp that was caught by first baseman Paul Konerko and Daric Barton's fly ball to left that was dropped by Pierre. LaRoche scored on the play and the A's won it in the 10th 2-1.
"[Thornton] has to get going," Guillen said. "Right now, the balls don't bounce his way. Today, the two swings they put up were pretty good swings. The double and the line drive to first base and then the fly ball, they hit them pretty good."
Yet as of now, Guillen isn't talking about drastic changes to his late-inning lineup out of the bullpen.
"He's going to be back out there," Guillen said "Like I say, it look like a rewind of the game a couple of days ago. We make a couple of mistakes and today, again, we don't help him."
Thornton thought his bad luck might be changing, but like a bad dream the same result happened yet again.
"When Coco lined out, I thought I got a little break there," Thornton said. "I'm like, all right, I fell behind him. He doesn't swing a whole lot against me. He lined out and I got a little break there, and I can get on a roll and get out of it and leave that guy out there at second base. And then after that ..."
After that, Pierre ran under Barton's fly ball and then scrambled around for it on the warning track as the A's tied the game. Guillen replaced Thornton with Jesse Crain.
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"Juan Pierre is a great player; he's made two mistakes behind me," Thornton said. "I'll never say anything about that guy. I want every fly ball I get to go to him. He's dedicated to this game more than anyone in all of baseball. So I'll never say anything bad about anything going on behind me, anyone on my defense. They're great players. I've got Gold Glove winners, All-Stars. Everybody's trying to win the game. We have one common goal, to win."
It's just not happening and now the White Sox have lost late leads to the Royals, Rays and A's, three of the four teams they have faced this season.
"I'm not going to lose confidence in myself," Thornton said. "I'm a grown man. I'm mature enough to handle it, you know. I'm going to bounce right back and be ready to go tomorrow. I'm going to come in here with a smile on my face and keep on working hard, and commit myself to what I'm trying to do, commit myself to each pitch, and throw each pitch with conviction, and put everything I have behind it."
Whether or not that next pitch comes in the closer's role remains to be seen.
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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