Sox bitten by Rays walk-off homer
Guillen unhappy with team's lackluster performance at plate
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Ozzie Guillen was able to catch his 5:50 p.m. ET flight from the Tampa-St. Pete area to Miami, in order to spend some time with his family, following the Rays' 4-3 victory over the White Sox in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Judging by Guillen's angry postgame commentary, completely directed at his struggling offense, the White Sox manager might not be the best company upon his arrival.
"There's only one message I'm going to send. That's all I'm going to talk," said Guillen, as he was getting dressed after watching the White Sox slip to 30-26 on the season and suffer their first three-game losing streak since May 11-13.
"Just be ready, because I expect movement Tuesday," continued Guillen, in a measured but terse tone, which briefly turned profane for a word or two on a couple of occasions. "I expect [general manager] Kenny [Williams] to do something Tuesday, and if we don't do anything Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of lineup changes. That's all I'm going to say about the offense.
"It can be me. It can be [hitting coach] Greg Walker. It can be the players. It could be anybody. I'm sick and tired of watching this thing for a year and a half. I'm not protecting anybody anymore."
Guillen's diatribe lasted close to a minute and a half, and there were no follow-up questions. So it was hard to discern the individuals Guillen was addressing when talking about "not protecting anybody anymore."
Could it be Walker, his embattled hitting coach, who Guillen has mentioned numerous times before as a tireless worker and someone who takes these White Sox offensive shortcomings as personal as anyone in the organization? Or could it be his core of veteran players, such as Nick Swisher, who dropped to .201 with his 1-for-5 showing, or Paul Konerko, hitting .205 after finishing 1-for-5 in Sunday's loss?
Of course, other hitters are struggling, with Carlos Quentin featuring the highest average among everyday players at .293. It's not from lack of effort or dedication, but if Guillen has proven one trait to be abundantly clear over his five-year managerial tenure, it's that he is a man of his word. Changes could be on the horizon, as early as Tuesday's series opener with the Royals.
"He's the manager. He can do what he wants. That's that," Konerko said. "It's a little bit of everything -- good pitching, bad decisions being made. What you have to realize is they blew a lot of opportunities as well.
"Again, everybody is giving everything they have. You can re-evaluate it how you want, but the effort is there."
The third win in this four-game weekend series for the Rays (35-22) came for the second time from the walk-off variety, courtesy of ninth hitter Gabe Gross' leadoff home run against Matt Thornton (1-1) on a 0-2 pitch. Thornton waved his fist in anger about four steps from the mound, not even watching the ball's trajectory after Gross made contact.
Thornton actually looked in line for a victory after he cruised through the ninth inning and Jim Thome turned a softly hit single to center into a double to lead off the 10th. Thome's two doubles raised his average to .212.
Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna moved to third with one out, but Joe Crede, hitting .264 after an 0-for-5 showing, grounded out against reliever J.P. Howell without Ozuna advancing. Swisher took a called third strike to end the threat and set up another big finish for the Rays.
Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine, who hurled a shutout against the White Sox on April 19, gave up two runs in the second, via Alexei Ramirez's two-run double. Ramirez finished with a career-high three hits, raising his average to .255.
Orlando Cabrera's run-scoring single moved the lead back to two runs, making it 3-1 in the fifth, as he brought home Brian Anderson, who had doubled. But the Rays needed just six pitches to tie the game against Mark Buehrle in the bottom of the fifth.
Johnny Gomes singled, Shaun Riggans doubled and Gross jumped on the next offering for a two-run triple. Buehrle stranded Gross at third, despite him getting there with no outs, and exited with a no-decision after six innings. Buehrle, who struck out five and gave up seven hits, has one win in his last 10 starts.
Chicago's offense has scored 13 runs while he has been on the mound in his last seven starts.
"Obviously, that's the other side of the ball. I'm not familiar with them," Buehrle said. "I'm terrible at hitting. They're doing a better job than I am, so I can't comment on that."
Sunday's loss dropped the White Sox to 3-4 on this road trip, after they started out 3-1, and reduced their American League Central lead to one game over Minnesota. Despite scoring four runs in the last three games against the Rays, Konerko pointed to the standings as the current positive by-product of a story yet to be told.
"This was going to be a good road trip that, obviously, finished off bad," Konerko said. "We finished May in first place, and didn't feel like we're even clicking at all. You want to find positives in that, you find positives. You want to find negatives, you find negatives, but the story is still unwritten."
As far as Guillen is concerned when talking about his anemic offense, it might be time to change a writer or two for this particular tale.
"If they can't get it done, Kenny should find someone to get it done. That's it," Guillen said.
"Another bad game. If we think we are going to win with the offense we have ...," added Guillen, pointing out in colorful terms how that result isn't likely to happen. "I'm just being honest. I expect better from them, if they are in the lineup."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.