White Sox’ Juan Pierre drops fly ball in ninth: ‘I flat out missed it’
By Daryl Van Schouwen firstname.lastname@example.org April 11, 2011 10:20PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The White Sox might be “all in,” as the slogan says they are, but you have to wonder if all departments got the company memo.
The bullpen again failed to do its job, with no help from left fielder Juan Pierre — who dropped a fly ball for the second time in four games with closer Matt Thornton pitching — and the Oakland Athletics shook off a razor-sharp performance by Mark Buehrle on Monday night to rally past the Sox 2-1 before 20,057 unhappy fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
Buehrle took a no-hitter into the sixth in a duel with fellow left-hander and perfect-game thrower Dallas Braden. He departed after eight scoreless innings with a 1-0 lead on Brent Lillibridge’s home run. After 99 pitches, Buehrle was well above previous pitch counts and, as manager Ozzie Guillen said, “those guys in the bullpen get paid pretty good.”
Enter Thornton, trying to get straightened out after blowing his first two save chances. He started the trouble by hanging an 0-2 slider to ninth-place hitter Andy LaRoche, who doubled to left-center field. After Coco Crisp lined out to first baseman Paul Konerko, Daric Barton lifted a fly into the left-field corner that Pierre dropped for a two-base error. It scored pinch runner Cliff Pennington to tie the game.
Jesse Crain, who had retired the first four hitters he faced, gave up a home run to Kurt Suzuki with two out in the 10th. It was an 0-2 fastball, belt high.
Thornton manned up and waited at his locker to answer questions.
“I made three good pitches and then made a bull---- fourth pitch, and he drove it for a double,’’ Thornton said. “I don’t care what happens after that, you can’t do that with a leadoff guy in a one-run game. I’ve got to bury that slider. Left it in the zone, and he was able to do what he did with it.’’
Guillen, while knowing Pierre would say it was a catchable ball, acknowledged that it was a difficult play because of gusting winds — Suzuki badly misplayed a foul pop earlier — but Pierre would hear none of it.
“I missed the ball,’’ Pierre said. “I appreciate [Guillen] saying it. I just flat out missed it. It basically cost us two games on the schedule so far. I can handle the booing, but when you got a guy like Thornton out there closing for the first time, busting his butt, and you play that way behind him, I feel worse for him as well as the team. It happens. I don’t know what else you can say.”
Pierre never will win a Gold Glove because of his below-average arm, but he usually runs down balls and catches what he can reach. At least he has in the past.
“I’ve missed my share of balls before, but I can’t recall two in one week in the ninth inning to basically cost us the game,’’ he said. “It’s a tough one to swallow. The only thing keeping me sane is my faith. That’s all I can rely on now. But I haven’t lost confidence in myself, and I hope the guys on the team haven’t, either. It’s tough. I can handle it.’’
The A’s Tyson Ross (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings. Brian Fuentes (fourth save) capped a perfect 10th by getting Pierre on a tap to the mound.
Buehrle allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one.
“From the get-go, everything was working,” Buehrle said.
“I don’t think anybody is worried about [Matt]. The fans were getting on him a little bit, and rightfully so. He’s blown [three] games. He’s getting guys to hit the ball. We need to make some plays behind him. It’s unfortunate, but that’s why you play nine innings.’’
Guillen stood behind Thornton, who has a 2.45 ERA, saying, “He’s going to be back out there.’’