Put Your Sox On : Ricky Blew It
What was he thinking? What was White Sox Manager Ricky Renteria thinking when he walked out to the mound to remove Game 3 starting pitcher Dane Dunning after he faced only four batters, getting two of them out?
To me it was unfathomable. It wasn’t like Dunning was doing poorly. Was he even scuffling? He gave up a leadoff single, on a slightly hard hit ball. He then got the next two Athletics batters to pop out for the first two outs. The A’s cleanup hitter roped one into left-center field, allowing the runner on 1st base to advance to 3rd. Ok. Two on, two out, with Oakland’s fifth hitter, the left-handed hitting 1B Matt Olson coming up to the plate.
Ricky got panicky and couldn’t control himself. He went to the mound with maybe the shortest leash I’ve ever seen. Don’t forget, Dane Dunning didn’t even give up a run yet. It would be different if he had no control, walked the bases loaded, and didn’t get anybody out. Instead he got two of four out and had pitched a whopping 15 pitches.
You know what happened next. Renteria put in the rookie lefty Garrett Crochet, who got two strikeouts before developing a sore forearm, possible because he wasn’t ready to pitch in a big moment with so very little warmup time. I mean, who gets the call to get up and throw after the leadoff hitter? And if that was the plan, that was a dumb plan.
After that, it was a struggle for the Sox pitching all afternoon. It’s a shame really. The Sox spoiled Lucas Giolito’s fantastic outing in the Game 1 opener to blow the series with an uncharacteristic dud from Dallas Keuchel in Game 2 and then the 6-4 disaster that was Game 3.
When you really analyze it, if Renteria, pitching coach Don Cooper and the Sox brass really had no trust in Dunning, then why did they even start him at all? In my opinion they should have started Dylan Cease. Or maybe even Carlos Rodon. If they were going to use Rodon anyway, out of the bullpen once again, like they did last week in the Cleveland Indians series which was the other big mistake made by Renteria lately, then why not just start him?
Rodon is a starter. He’s not a reliever. Last week when asked about why he put in Rodon, just after Rodon blew that last game to give the Indians the four game sweep, Renteria replied that he had to see if Rodon could do it prior to the playoffs starting, in hopes of utilizing another lefty arm out of the ‘pen. Last week, Renteria said,
“My expectation did not come to fruition with what I thought we were going to see,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “If everybody wants to put it on me, put it on me.”
Rodon disagreed, saying, “I’m the one who gave up the hits. Ricky had nothing to do with throwing any of the pitches, so it’s not on him.”
So when Rodon failed bitterly last week, what made Renteria think he indeed found something? It made no sense whatsoever. So basically he lost the division last week by using Rodon in a spot in which he had no experience. Fast forward exactly one week to Game 3. Ricky did the exact same thing with Rodon who provided the exact same result. To make a long story short, Renteria blew two games within a week, both games being the biggest game of the season, by doing the exact same thing: using a starter in a bad spot out of relief. Hmmm.
Overall, Rodon faced 6 batters. He threw first pitch strikes to none of them. Three of them got hits. Two were walked. Rodon only got one of those six batters out. He basically blew both games. Sorry Carlos, we don’t want to bag on you too hard since you’ve been hurt for most of your career. In fact, you haven’t even pitched over 120 innings since 2016. You’ve only pitched about 40 innings over the last two years. Who can blame you? Instead, let’s blame the guy that put you in there. Yeah, we want and we will put it on you coach.
Moving forward, what is Dane Dunning thinking? What is Dylan Cease thinking? What is Carlos Rodon thinking? What are all the other Sox players thinking? All of these guys lost confidence in themselves and the team because one guy lost confidence. Most importantly, what is GM Rick Hahn thinking?
I know what he should be thinking. He should consider replacing Ricky Renteria with a new manager as we head towards 2021 and the rest of the ’20’s Sox “Decade of Dominance”, as coined by the “Dutch Lion.” Regarding those managerial candidates, we have a few. Could Don Mattingly be pried away from the Miami Marlins? How about long-time Red Sox and Indians boss Terry Francona? Don’t forget he started his career as a Pale Hose minor league manager at three levels: Sarasota, South Bend, and Birmingham. One of our favorites for years now has been Wally Backman. He also started his managing career on the Sox farm, also with the Double A Birmingham Barons, way back in 2002. For some reason the former Mets hero never was named Manager of the big-league Mets, despite his stellar minor league managerial career. Finally, I know what you’re thinking. Ozzie Guillen is available. I love Ozzie as much as anyone. However, would Hahn and the Sox really want to go down that road again? Perhaps. In my opinion, he’s a better manager than Rick. He certainly has more experience and of course, a World Series ring.
We’ll see what happens. For now, the Sox and their fans are excited about the future but left to wonder what was Ricky thinking when he blew the 2020 season?