CHICAGO — White Sox closer Liam Hendriks shouldered the blame for a 12-9 loss in 11 innings to the Guardians Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, ending the South Sides’ six-game winning streak.
Fellow reliever Ryan Burr stood up and did the same, after giving up the game-winning three-run home run to Josh Naylor. In the end, it was a great comeback by Cleveland coupled with a group giveaway by the White Sox causing an 8-2 lead to evaporate in the ninth and the ninth loss in the last 10 games against AL Central opponents.
“Yeah, it sucks,” Burr said. “I don’t know what else to say. Some days you are the windshield. Some days you are the bug. Unfortunately I was the bug today and I got squashed.”
“Brutal,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Had a chance to put it away. That’s just a brutal loss, to give up six runs like that and a couple chances to win offensively. It’s a tough loss. as you’re going to have.”
AJ Pollock’s three-run home run in the eighth pushed the lead to six and seemed to give Hendriks the night off, even though the closer warmed up in the eighth. Per Baseball Savant, the White Sox had a 99.7% chance to win after Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan grounded into a force out for the second out of the ninth inning. But Cleveland cut the lead to 8-4 against Tanner Banks and had the tying run on-deck when La Russa went to Hendriks.
Hendriks got to 2-2 on Owen Miller before allowing a single to left to load the bases, and Naylor followed on the next pitch with the game-tying grand slam. It was Naylor’s first career slam, but he was just getting started.
Errors by Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada contributed to the Guardians’ ninth, with the White Sox committing four on the night. They have committed 26 miscues in their 14-14 start to the season.
“We didn’t lose that game because of our defense,” La Russa said. “I disagree with that. They didn’t have the cleanest game either, right? Just a tough, brutal loss for the home team.”
“Right now it just stings obviously because Burr should never be in that situation,” Hendriks said. “It should have been something that I took care of. I mean, I was one strike away and I wasn’t able to get it done and that’s the bit that stings the most.”
Burr replaced Reynaldo López, who allowed one unearned run in the 10th, but left while warming up in the 11th with lower back tightness. With two outs and runners on first and second, La Russa admitted to think about walking Naylor to load the bases for a Burr vs. Ernie Clement matchup but ultimately did not. That decision didn’t work out favorably.
“It doesn’t look very good right now,” La Russa said. “We were going to pitch him tough and made a mistake.”
“I want to go after everybody,” Burr said. “I don’t care who it is. I made a pitch and he hit the ball. That’s the game of baseball for you. It went over the fence. We lost the game. So, get right back on the horse tomorrow and see where we are at.”
Lost in this crazy game was Gavin Sheets’ three-run home run to cap off a four-run first, after his dropped fly ball in the top of the frame gave the Guardians a free run. Michael Kopech was outstanding once again, giving up one unearned run in six innings with seven strikeouts. He has allowed just two runs or less in each of his six starts this season and one or less in five.
But the late-inning meltdown left Kopech with a no-decision.
“For most of the game we played pretty good baseball,” Kopech said. “We’ve been on a good run. I don’t think anybody wants to lose, but that is a game most of the time we’re going to win. I think we can get rid of it pretty quick.”
The White Sox will have a chance to start a new winning streak on Tuesday, as many of the players pointed out postgame. They need to be true to their words, though, and quickly push this contest into the background.
“It’s a learning experience,” Burr said. “It sucks. It sucks to let this team down, especially a hot team, won six in a row, want to keep it going. But baseball gods didn’t have it in our favor today.”
“They always feel more than one game, but it’s just one game,” Pollock said. “We regroup and we get back at it.”
“At the end of the day you’re coming in there with a job to do,” Hendriks said. “I didn’t do my job tonight.”