Thornton becomes the Welcome Matt thanks to 'Pierror' and Guillen
Blame the manager. Ozzie Guillen removed Mark Buehrle from his best start of the season: eight innings of two-hit ball on 99 pitches in a 1-0 game. Guillen said he had to “take care of Buehrle.’’
Blame the offense, too, if you’d like. Any time that loaded and expensive lineup wants to score more than one run at home, fine by me. And that one run came on a home run by itty-bitty Brent Lillibridge, who weighs about as much as Adam Dunn’s appendix.
The Sox got six hits, just one after Lillibridge's homer in the fifth. They got a runner to third in the bottom of the ninth, but that’s when Brent Morel struck out to kill all hope.
Of course, all hope might’ve been abandoned earlier when Matt Thornton came on to try to save another game. The left-handed Lucifer gave up a leadoff double. If Hawk Harrelson thinks the leadoff walk is dreaded, then the leadoff double must be suicidal.
And then it was time for another retch-inducing piece of defense by Juan Pierror, who dropped Daric Barton’s one-out fly near the left-field corner to allow the tying run to come home.
Guillen said it’s not as easy as it looks. Tell you what, Oz, it’s easier than hearing that lame excuse. Big leaguers ought to make minor-league plays, especially in the ninth inning.
That’s twice now that Pierror has choked on fly balls. Only last Friday night against Tampa Bay, Pierror dropped a fly to short left to help the Rays to a five-run inning, capped by Thornton’s allowing a three-run, game-winning homer to a left-handed hitter.
That’s three blown saves for the guy who isn’t Bobby Jenks, twice directly tied to Pierror embarrassments. If you win just the Pierror games, you’re 8-2 and tied with Cleveland for first place, which is like being in sole possession of the AL Central when you count just the real teams.
The Sox have yet to win a one-run game. They have lost a one-run game. But they haven’t come up with a win in one of those yet. The closest they’ve come is a two-run win over Tampa Bay when Chris Sale got the game after Friday’s ninth-inning gagathon.
Thornton wanted the closer role. He got it and has yet to record a save. Some of it is his fault. Some of it is the fault of others. It's a group stink issue. Be careful what you ask for because Pierror might just give it to you.
The real problem, it looks like, is Thornton’s stuff. There’s not much of it. There’s a high-90s fastball, but there’s nothing on it. It’s all straight. Major-league hitters can turn around that type of fastball. It looks as if Thornton has become the left-handed Billy Koch. All kinds of velocity, all kinds of straight, all kinds of blown saves.
He has to sit down for a while. Go back to the valium of the eighth inning.
Jesse Crain has gotten out of some big jams this year, but he’s the guy who gave up the game-losing home run to Sox-killer Kurt Suzuki in the 10th.
Remember when everybody was talking like Chris Sale was going to be the guy? Let’s go back to that. He has enough pitches to do it. No, he hasn’t been great, either, but at least there’s something on his pitches and he has a frustrating motion that might buy him the desperate swings that Thornton can’t get right now.
Yeah, it’s just a guess, and it’s change for the sake of not making me puke when Thornton comes in. I’d go with Sale, and then I’d go into Kenny Williams’ office and congratulate him on a bullpen that is helping him pull off the poker miracle of shoving all in and folding at the same time.