Ricky Speaks: "Everybody wants to put it on me, put it on me."
Every White Sox fan is melting down right now, whether simply for the team stumbling into the playoffs having lost five straight and six of seven, or for the seemingly-inexplicable decision made tonight to call on career starter Carlos Rodón to "try out" a bullpen role with the bases full and two outs in the bottom of the seventh in Cleveland.
Manager Ricky Renteria, over and over again tonight, explained that he wanted to insert Rodón for a single batter to get the third out, extinguish the Wahoos rally, and hold on to a 4-1 lead.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, as Rodón, amped, was oozing velocity without command. He ran the count to 3-1 and threw ball four to Cesar Hernández — but got a call that had the Cleveland bench howling. Hernández protected and fouled another ball four off, then, benefitting from his seventh straight fastball all in the 95-97 range, sent a flare out to right field, barely over the outstretched glove of second baseman Yolmer Sánchez, to plate two and cut the White Sox lead to 4-3.
"We were going to find out [what Carlos had] with two outs," Renteria said, fielding a barrage of questions about his relief decision immediately. "He jammed Hernández, it got just over Sanchy. It was gonna just be a shorty, we were going to be put Bum in the eighth."
While Renteria was stand-up in terms of accepting blame for the outcome, with several variations of "everybody wants to put it on me, put it on me," but was steadfast in defending the decision to put Rodón in such a trepidatious position in the first place.
"It is what it is," Renteria said. "At the end of the day, the guys did a nice job of putting us ahead. We had a chance to stop it right there, it didn’t happen. Everything was going in the right direction. It was an expected out with Rodón, but it didn’t happen."
It was so peculiar, it was almost as if Ricky didn't "get it" — or harbored some angst toward Rodón.
"He’s a big-league starter for going on five years now, he’s handled those situations before," Renteria said, blending a starter's self-made jam with a reliever's one, coming in cold into high stress. "We’re weren’t asking him to go through a full inning. In that moment, it didn’t work out."
As for the social media wailing over the use of Aaron Bummer in the eighth, lead evaporated, vs. the seventh, lead intact, Renteria stuck by the decision to start the inning with Jimmy Cordero and not bring in the high-leverage veteran, Bummer, after Cordero was chipped away at by three straight singles.
"We wanted Bummer for a complete inning," Renteria said. "I couldn’t put him out there [mid-seventh] and send him back out for the next inning."
With a division title hanging in the balance and the White Sox still in control of their own destiny of an AL Central title, Renteria got greedy.
"Yes, this was a situation was we could get greedy and try to get one out, to get Rodón out there in this situation," Renteria said. "I'm not anticipating something negative, but something positive."
Ricky Renteria footage courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.