Tony La Russa had a decision to make Monday, and in the end, he chose the long-term prospects of the Chicago White Sox over attempting a miracle comeback against the Boston Red Sox.
The White Sox were on the wrong end of an 11-4 beatdown Monday morning in Boston, as the Red Sox salvaged a four-game split with the Pale Hose.
Boston used a six-run first inning against Lucas Giolito to jump out to an early lead. La Russa pulled the plug on his ace after just one inning. Coming off a doubleheader Sunday, pitching was in a bit of a pinch for the White Sox skipper.
Ultimately, La Russa called on two position players — Yermin Mercedes in the seventh and Danny Mendick in the eighth — to finish the game on the mound. La Russa explained the move was to ensure his pitching was intact for a two-game set against division rival Cleveland starting Tuesday.
“We’ve got two games against Cleveland and we had several guys that could pitch in a competitive game, but if they pitched today, they’re out tomorrow,” La Russa told reporters after Monday’s contest, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage.
That being said, La Russa was proud of the players he called on to toe the rubber and was happy with his team’s effort despite the loss.
“For me, somebody or some part of the club does something every stinkin’ game that adds to my respect for what we’ve got here,” gushed La Russa. “We fell behind, and our hitters kept attacking. We got points on the board in four different innings against a guy in (Red Sox starter Nathan) Eovaldi — he struck out some guys, he’s got good stuff. The effort level, to be ready play and continue to play until the end, this is a very special group.”
Mercedes and Mendick weren’t complete disasters, either. They limited the Red Sox to just one run on four hits over the two innings of work, while saving some bullpen arms moving forward.
The baseball season, you might have heard, is a marathon and not a sprint — and no one knows that better than La Russa.