Two months into the season and the Chicago White Sox have not played at all like the team that won the American League Central Division last year. Plenty of mistakes and blame can be handed out for what has occurred but one play, in particular, seems to be the symbol of how this season has gone.
In the top of the sixth inning of their first game with Toronto on May 31, Danny Mendick managed to drive in a run on a fielder’s choice that put the tying run in Reese McGuire at third and the White Sox within a run at 6 to 5.
Yasmani Grandal then came up and hit what looked like a sacrifice fly to left field that would tie the game. However, Mendick tried to tag from first and was cut down at second on a throw by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. which came before McGuire touched home plate.
McGuire assumed he was not going to need to sprint home until it turned out he had to. By that time, however, it was too late. The White Sox watched a golden opportunity slide by the wayside.
The Chicago White Sox 2022 season can be summed up by one horrific play.
This inability to do the fundamental things correctly has plagued this organization for a long time. The little things seem to add up against the White Sox and they just can’t seem to overcome them.
The play in the game was one a little leaguer learns about when it comes to running the bases. The play was in front of Mendick so he has to be absolutely sure he is going to be able to get to second before the throw.
McGuire knows the ball was deep enough that there would not be a play on him tagging from third but he has to hustle down the line in case of a play at second.
The team has had trouble scoring runs of late. Mendick, and possibly first base coach Daryl Boston, may have thought Gurriel Jr. was not going to make a strong throw.
Their thought process might have been that getting a runner into scoring position with two outs and Andrew Vaughn coming up was a good move since he was hitting the ball well on the night.
Mendick said he tried to be aggressive in that situation. However, if he retreats back to first like one is taught to do early on in one’s baseball career, the run scores and who knows what might happen after that.
The problem is it didn’t work out that way, much like many of the things the White Sox have tried this season. Too often this team has made fielding errors, base running errors, and managerial errors that good teams don’t seem to make. Certainly, injuries aren’t helping the situation either.
Case in point, Mendick was playing in place of the injured Tim Anderson and McGuire got a start behind the plate for the light-hitting Grandal who was the designated hitter. Not only was Grandal the DH but he was put into the leadoff spot in a curious move by manager Tony La Russa.
In essence, this play is symbolic of how the team has come up short at various points of the season. What little momentum the team seems to gather gets cut off quickly and there hasn’t been a response worthy of a playoff contender, let alone a World Series contender.
Once thought by many to have enough talent to win the division this season, the White Sox are now scrambling to find answers before putting themselves in a hole they can’t get out of.
Mistakes like the one in Toronto cannot continue to happen as this team has shown it has little margin for error.