By Bruce Levine
(CBS) — Losing a game late like the White Sox did on Wednesday evening is tough on everybody involved. Take manager Robin Ventura, for instance.
A decision not to bring in closer Matt Lindstrom caused some second-guessing after the team blew a ninth-inning lead.
Ventura, who had used four relievers in the eighth inning, stayed with setup man Maikel Cleto to start the ninth. After a walk and a hit batter, Ventura brought in Lindstrom, who blew his third save opportunity in four tries.
The bullpen has been a work in progress for the Sox in the early going. Knowing that his team’s poor bullpen showing is a reflection on Ventura is a part of the job description.
“Yeah, that is part of it,” Ventura admitted on Thursday. “When things don’t happen, you can get criticized just for moves. Still, going back and looking at the game, (I) still would have done the same thing.”
The manager’s logic was to save his closer in case the game got tied up. He only had Lindstrom and Daniel Webb left from his bullpen pitchers. The faulty logic here was that your closer is supposed to get the clean inning and end the game. Ventura at this point has little reason to trust anybody in the pen. An evolving group of newcomers has yet to establish any roles in the pen at all. Part of the problem is that Nate Jones got hurt in spring training and never came back to claim the closer role.
The Sox had a dangerous situation after Lindstrom left the game. Rookie Webb had a long outing, throwing more than 50 pitches in over three innings. Teams hate putting young pitchers in extended outings, but it does happen.
“The competitive part of it is hard to do,” Ventura said about not letting Webb go even further. “Sometimes you have to live to fight another day.”
Ventura made a mistake using too many pitchers in his eighth inning match-ups. Personally, I understand the manager’s angst in holding a lead with a leaky bullpen.
“That is part of the plan and part of rolling the dice,” Ventura said after inserting Leury Garcia on the mound after running out of pitchers. “Last night did not work. I don’t plan on that being a regular occurrence.”