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updated: 6/25/2014 11:45 PM

Pen implodes, Sox lose 5-4 in 12th

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  • White Sox pitcher Javy Guerra pauses in front of the mound after giving up a grand slam to Baltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz, at right, to tie the game in the eighth inning, Wednesday. The Sox went on to lose 5-4 in the 12th.

      White Sox pitcher Javy Guerra pauses in front of the mound after giving up a grand slam to Baltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz, at right, to tie the game in the eighth inning, Wednesday. The Sox went on to lose 5-4 in the 12th.
    Associated Press

 
 

White Sox fans haven't seen their team make the playoffs since 2008, and the '05 World Series championship continues to yellow with age.

So naturally, they are going to be a bit ill-tempered, especially after being subjected to 99 losses last year.

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The manager typically takes the brunt of the criticism, and that certainly was the case Wednesday night.

Starting pitcher Hector Noesi and the Sox were on cruise control at Baltimore, leading 4-0 in the bottom of the eighth.

At that point, it looked like the White Sox were going to take 2 of 3 from the Orioles and head to Toronto with some needed momentum.

Instead, Baltimore completed its rally in the 12th and scored a run against erratic reliever Daniel Webb to win 5-4.

Noesi was brilliant through the first 6 innings, holding Baltimore scoreless on 4 hits.

In the seventh, the converted relief pitcher allowed 3 hits, but a key double play kept the shutout intact.

Leaving a starting pitcher in the game too long is a sure way for a major-league manager to get ripped, and Ventura let Noesi take the mound in the eighth inning.

Noesi allowed consecutive singles to Nick Hundley and Nick Markakis, and Ventura came out to make the change.

Ventura called on reliable right-handed reliever Zach Putnam, who did his job by retiring Steve Pearce and Adam Jones on flyouts.

Then, Ventura played the lefty-lefty matchup, calling on unreliable veteran Scott Downs to face Chris Davis.

Downs walked Davis to load the bases, and Javy Guerra came out of the bullpen to face the dangerous Nelson Cruz.

After falling behind 2-0, Guerra threw a fastball down the middle and Cruz just missed it. Guerra threw another fastball and Cruz tied the game with a grand slam.

So, instead of hanging on to a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead late in the game, the Sox and Orioles waited out a 1 hour, 9 minute rain delay and slogged into extra innings.

I tuned into the White Sox' flagship radio station during the delay in play and listened to host/Daily Herald teammate Chris Rongey take one irate call after another, with most placing all of the blame on Ventura.

He left Noesi in too long. He shouldn't have called on Downs (tough to disagree with that one). Guerra should have walked Cruz to force in a run and dealt with J.J. Hardy.

I get it, it's baseball, it's a long season and fans are going to get cranky.

But if you look at the pitching staff Ventura has to work with this season -- starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana came in as the only two reliable arms -- how is it fair to dump all of this on the manager?

Maybe I'll give Rongey a call and ask, just to add a little balance.

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