ST PETERSBURG, Fla.—The baseball gods were looking down on the White Sox and laughing loudly Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Frank Thomas was given a chance to redeem himself for not sliding into home plate Saturday, a decision that led to criticism from manager Jerry Manuel and teammate Carlos Lee. While Thomas managed to get his uniform dirty this time with a textbook slide into the plate, he was thrown out by 10 feet, which Manuel called a turning point in the Sox's 10-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
After Joe Crede's RBI single gave the Sox a 2-1 lead in the sixth, Royce Clayton singled to right with one out and two on. Third-base coach Wallace Johnson sent Thomas home from third, and he was easily thrown out by right fielder Jason Conti.
The Sox ended the inning with the one-run lead, but back-to-back home runs off Mark Buehrle by Aubrey Huff and Jared Sandberg in the bottom half of the inning put the Devil Rays back on top, and the Sox were soon cooked.
Did Johnson think about holding up Thomasone of his slowest runnersin a one-run game?
"Why?" Johnson replied. "Was I supposed to?"
Johnson was informed Manuel had suggested he should have.
"I can always be second-guessed as a third-base coach," Johnson said. "In retrospect, I would say, 'Yeah, well I should've held him and kept the inning going.' But we had a ground ball that was hit to the right side. I'm thinking with the secondary jump that Frank would be able to make it. But I was probably wrong by sending him."
Johnson conceded he had sent Thomas home from second Saturday in the now infamous "non-slide" to try to jump-start the offense.
"I think it might have been a layover in my mind, [thinking] 'Hey, OK, this time he can do it,'" Johnson said.
OK. So should Johnson have sent Thomas on Saturday with the Sox trailing 6-0?
"Yes," he said. "If he had slid, he would've been safe. I think he was safe anyway, but if he slides in, he's definitely safe."
Thomas was unavailable for comment afterward.
Buehrle (14-8) and Rocky Biddle combined to give up six runs in the seventh inning, putting the game out of reach. It was the fourth straight game Sox pitchers have allowed five or more runs in a single inning.
Buehrle allowed five runs on 11 hits in 61/3 innings, while Biddle was tattooed for four runs on four hits while recording only one out.
The Sox stranded 11 runners, and have left 37 men on base in the first three games of the series. They came in hitting .259 with two outs and runners in scoring position, and .186 with two outs and the bases loaded.
"That's been our Achilles' heel," Manuel said.