Let's get this out of the way first: The White Sox did not lose Thursday night because of manager Robin Ventura's bullpen choices. The Sox lost, 2-1, to the Texas Rangers in 11 innings because they cannot hit. They managed just six hits and failed to take advantage of four Texas errors.
That said, Ventura's continual misuse of left-handed reliever Dan Jennings continues to be a point of frustration for me.
We've been over this before: Jennings is better at getting right-handed hitters out than he is against lefties.
RHB vs. Jennings: .233/.404/.395
LHB vs. Jennings: .326/.354/.391
RHB vs. Jennings: .237/.340/.390
LHB vs. Jennings: .296/.354/.401
This is not a new trend for Jennings, nor is this an example of groundbreaking analysis. But in the bottom of the 11th inning Thursday night, with a man on second and one out, Ventura had Jennings intentionally walk right-handed hitter Delino DeShields Jr., a rookie, to face veteran left-handed hitter Shin-Soo Choo.
Naturally, Choo got a base hit to win the game because, well, Jennings has problems getting left-handed batters out, despite his left-handedness. And even if Jennings had retired Choo, another left-handed hitter, Prince Fielder, was waiting on deck.
Fielder, incidentally, is leading the league in hitting at .358. Which combination of hitters would you have chosen to face in that situation? DeShields and Choo? Or Choo and Fielder? I think it's a no-brainer to face the former. DeShields is a rookie and might get himself out, and again, Jennings fares better against right-handed hitters. Then, you take your chances with Choo and pray Fielder doesn't get to the plate.
Ventura chose the latter option. He lost. It's frustrating, and it's too bad the Sox let this one get away. Carlos Rodon went six innings and posted a career-high 10 strikeouts. The Rangers were committing errors left and right, and they were just begging the Sox to take this game, win the series and come home with a winning road trip. Instead, the Sox pushed it away and finished the 11-game trip with a 5-6 record.
Next up, a weekend home series with the Detroit Tigers. Here are the pitching matchups.
Friday: Jose Quintana (2-6, 4.33 ERA) vs. Kyle Ryan (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Saturday: John Danks (3-4, 4.81 ERA) vs. David Price (4-2, 3.15 ERA)
Sunday: Jeff Samardzija (4-3, 4.68 ERA) vs. Alfredo Simon (5-3, 2.97 ERA)