The Chicago White Sox lost a hard-fought game to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night as Trayce Thompson struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the team down by one run. The big move in the inning came when Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose to have slugger Jose Abreu intentionally walked with two outs to load the bases for Thompson.
The move paid off as Showalter took advantage of White Sox manager Rick Renteria’s continual weakness in not protecting Abreu in the lineup.
Renteria’s lineups this season has consistently featured Abreu in the three spot as he is the biggest offensive threat for the team. However, the fourth spot has been in constant flux this season as many different White Sox players have batted fourth behind Abreu this season.
Some of those names include Nicky Delmonico, Matt Davidson, Daniel Palka, and even Yolmer Sanchez. Some of these lineups put out by Renteria have been successful at times, but without a consistent threat behind the team’s best hitter hurts the team’s chances in the long run.
Matt Davidson is proving to be the solution to the problem as so far this season, he leads the team in home runs and walks. Even more impressive this season is that Davidson leads the league in most pitches per at- bat.
Last season, other than hitting home runs, his batting average and on-base percentage were sub-par for a middle of the order power threat. In 2017, Davidson drew just 19 walks in 443 plate appearances. This season in just 167 plate appearances, he has already surpassed his 2017 total as he currently has 26 walks.
It is understandable for a manager to have different lineups for different games, but a constant needs to be set when it comes to the most important spot in the lineup. On Monday, Palka batted in the four spot behind Abreu but was replaced later on by Thompson for defensive purposes. Due to Palka’s lack of defense, he was substituted for a player who’s batting average and on-base percentage is both below .200 into the biggest run-producing spot in a lineup.
Throughout Monday’s game, the team had their chances to score and tie the game up as multiple times they ended innings with men on base. What happened in the bottom of the ninth was avoidable from a managerial standpoint. Most games are won or lost by the players on the field, but Monday’s biggest moment was lost due to a recurring theme of inconsistency in the White Sox lineup.