The White Sox entered the season with championship expectations. Through 57 games they have not come close to living up to those lofty goals. Fans are disgruntled.
The White Sox currently sit in third place in the American League Central Division and are six games back from the first-place Minnesota Twins. They entered Sunday’s series finale against the Texas Rangers three games under .500 at 27-30. Frustration is mounting.
Not even free Hawaiian shirts and the soothing sounds of Jimmy Buffet were enough to calm down an angry crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday afternoon. Chants of “Fire Tony” echoed throughout the ballpark in the 10th inning. The chants could be heard audibly on the broadcast as well.
“Fire Tony” chants have broken out in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/KeqJwC7sZo
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) June 11, 2022
The anger stemmed from Tony La Russa’s squad squandering a lead of four plus runs for the second time in three days. The first came against the Dodger’s This one seemed to sting a bit more. The White Sox offense quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead courtesy of a Jake Burger two-run homer, and RBIs from AJ Pollock, Luis Robert, and Jose Abreu.
Things began to unravel in the top of the fifth inning. Lucas Giolito surrendered four runs to cut the White Sox cushion to just one. Danny Mendick and Andrew Vaughn responded with RBIs in the bottom of the fifth inning to provide extra insurance.
But after Tony La Russa brought in a string of Triple-A caliber relievers, the White Sox quickly saw their lead evaporate once again. The Ranger’s bullpen also limited the White Sox to just one hit in the final four innings. The result was a 7-7 tie-in extra innings.
Tony La Russa told reporters before the game that high leverage relievers Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, and Aaron Bummer were unavailable.
Instead, Matt Foster was brought in during the tenth inning and let the first five batters he faced reach base via four hits and a walk. Jose Ruiz was brought in for damage control but when the dust settled the Rangers pushed across four runs.
The White Sox tried to battle back in the bottom half of the frame, scoring two runs and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate but could not complete the comeback, falling to the Rangers 11-9.
This loss could not be pinned on Tony La Russa. Surprisingly his lineup construction was solid and if Hendriks, Graveman, and Bummer were indeed not available, then his opinions out of the bullpen were limited.
But it was a frustrating ending to a brutal week that saw him put Leury Garcia in the leadoff spot despite owning a .450 OPS and making a bizarre decision to intentionally walk Trea Turner with a 1-2 count.
The fanbase displeasure is not lost on La Russa. He could hear the booing and chants of “Fire Tony” from the dugout. It quickly turned into the topic of conversation following the game.
“Well, I hear it with one ear and see it with one eye,” La Russa told reporters. “I appreciate they want us to win, and when we don’t win they’re unhappy. I’m pleased that they are, you know? We have the team to win, and we’re losing.
“Nobody in the clubhouse, including the manager and coaches, is happy. I like it when fans care enough to be upset.”
Jake Burger, who collected a pair of RBIs on two hits and extended his streak of games with an extra-base hit to seven, was also asked about the chants.
“They have a right to voice their opinion,” Burger explained. “They are coming to the game and they can say whatever they want. I know this clubhouse is a family and we are going to speak together no matter what. You can have outside opinions, but this clubhouse, we are tight and it’s a family.”
Lucas Giolito took responsibility for the blown lead and did his best to block out the outside noise from fans.
“Fans are going to have their opinions. A lot of colorful opinions at times, “Giolito said. ” We focus on, put a little bubble around it, focus in the game, trying to keep in close in extra innings and mount that comeback. Just fell short.
“Again responsibility falls on me even letting the door open in the fifth inning. It could have gone way differently.”
The silver lining for the White Sox is that despite the abysmal start they are still within striking distance of the Twins. They also have the easiest remaining schedule in the MLB. But fans are tired of watching a talented team that is constantly underperforming. At some point, they need to get the job done.