Wednesday night, as is the norm throughout the season, was cheap hot dog night at Rangers Ballpark, but the first day of May also featured a new promotion:
Take the Blame Night.
That’s the one that left Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington and catcher Geovany Soto with unsettled stomachs.
Washington fessed up after not going to left-handed reliever Joseph Ortiz in a critical spot in the seventh inning, and Soto shouldered responsibility for a base-running mistake that prevented a big second inning.
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Soto’s gaffe gave Chris Sale a second chance to keep Chicago in the game, and Washington’s miscall allowed Alejandro De Aza to hit a two-run homer off Nick Tepesch as the White Sox pulled away for a 5-2 victory.
“Bad decision by me,” Washington said. “I just stayed with Tepesch one batter too long. I should have gone to Ortiz, and I didn’t. I’ll take the blame for that one.”
An argument could be made the De Aza home run should have either tied the game or put the White Sox up only one run if Soto hadn’t misread the flight of an Ian Kinsler deep drive to left field with the bases loaded and one out in the second.
The Rangers trailed 2-0 entering the inning but got one run as Jeff Baker homered with one out. Mitch Moreland walked, and Soto and Craig Gentry followed with singles to load the bases.
Kinsler was next, and Moreland easily scored the tying run on the Kinsler fly ball that hit off the out-of-town scoreboard. Soto, though, went back toward second to tag up rather than going halfway to third, and was almost passed by the speedy Gentry between second and third.
Kinsler ended up with a 360-foot RBI single when it appeared that Soto and Gentry would have also scored. Soto ended up confessing after the game.
“I read that ball bad,” he said. “I thought it was going to top-spin [not carry]. I should have scored on that play.”
Said Washington: “Two things were going to happen: It was going to be off the wall or leave the ballpark. He ended up jamming up the bases. He should have been halfway. There’s no doubt about it.”
Sale entirely wasn’t in the clear with just one out.
He fell behind 3-0 to Elvis Andrus but came back to strike out the shortstop to end a nine-pitch at-bat. The threat ended when Lance Berkman bounced into a fielder’s choice.
“Sometimes we’ll put up a six- or an eight-spot,” Soto said. “Sale is a pretty good pitcher. He did a good job.”
Tepesch (2-2) had just pulled his own escape act in the top of the second, which Chicago started with a double, a single and a walk. The White Sox got only one run, though, as Tepesch got Tyler Flowers to bounce into a double play and Dewayne Wise to ground to first.
Tepesch and Sale settled in after their close calls, with Sale retiring 10 straight at one point and Tepesch retiring seven in a row before Conor Gillaspie’s leadoff homer in the seventh.
Tepesch got Alexei Ramirez, but Flowers singled ahead of a Wise strikeout.
Ortiz was warming as the left-handed-hitting De Aza came to the plate. He fell behind in the count, but Tepesch’s 109th pitch was a hanging slider that De Aza dumped into the right-field seats.
Even Tepesch got in on the blame-taking act.
“I didn’t make a good enough pitch 3-2, and he took advantage of it,” he said.
Washington, though, took the rookie off the hook.
“I just second-guessed myself,” Washington said. “My intentions were to go get him. I decided to let him see if he could get out of the inning, and it didn’t work. Just a bad decision on my part.”
Worse, it turns out, than the cheap hot dogs.