Anatomy of a meltdown: Sox implode vs. Baltimore

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Anatomy of a meltdown: Sox implode vs. Baltimore

A 4-1 lead heading into the eighth inning. That sounds pretty good for a White Sox bullpen that was lining up Jesse Crain and Hector Santiago to finish the game off.

The Orioles practically handed the White Sox that three-run lead, playing generally deplorable baseball through the first seven innings of Monday's contest. So when Matt Wieters went deep off Crain in the eighth, it didn't seem like much of a threat. One solo home run wasn't going to be the undoing of the Sox.

Crain scuffled through the rest of the inning, walking Mark Reynolds and giving up a single to Chris Davis with two out before striking out Robert Andino looking to hold the Orioles at bay.

The Sox were put away easily in the eighth outside of an A.J. Pierzynski single. Whatever, just get Santiago in, nail down the save and improve to 6-3.

Santiago was pretty well squeezed against Nolan Reimold to lead off the top of the ninth, throwing two pitches that were in the strike zone that were called balls. The latter of those pitches should've been strike three, and it was followed up with a home run. 4-3. The sequence, via Brooks Baseball:

That sixth pitch was a mid-90's fastball just out of the strike zone on the outer third. Given the inside corner was taken away in the sequence, though, Santiago could've stood to elevate that pitch more, or get it a little further outside. Reimold was able to cheat to the outer third, and it helped him make it a one-run game.

Should Santiago have struck Reimold out? Absolutely. Should he have thrown a better 3-2 offering? Absolutely. You can only blame umpires for so much, and Lance Barrett didn't throw a hittable payoff pitch.

Barrett then gave Santiago some generous calls in the next two at-bats -- Don Cooper's argument and subsequent ejection maybe helped with that -- which left Adam Jones as the last remaining player standing between the Sox and a win.

But Santiago absolutely grooved a 2-1 fastball, which Jones promptly belted for a game-tying home run. There wasn't much to this one. It was just a fastball right down the middle, and Jones, possessing good power, whacked it over the fence.

Okay, so that's a rough way to lose a lead. But it only tied the game, and at home, the Sox did have a chance to win it in the bottom of the frame. A 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, which ended with a soft Gordon Beckham flyout on a hanging slider, washed away that chance.

And then the top of the 10th happened. The gory details don't really need to be re-hashed, but needless to say it wasn't the finest hour for Zach Stewart, Alejandro De Aza and the right side of the White Sox infield.

When the dust settled, Baltimore led 10-4. After being down 4-1 heading into the eighth.

This is the kind of loss the White Sox can't afford to take. The Orioles gave the Sox every possible opportunity to win the game, but the Sox didn't take advantage. And the Orioles are not a good team, no matter what their 6-4 record may show.

The White Sox don't have a big margin for error in 2012. Even a handful of losses like Monday's could be the difference between contention and not playing meaningful games in August and September.

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four of the team's top-10 prospects and a former All-Star are among the 19 nonroster invitees to White Sox big league camp this spring.

The team announced Monday that prospects Michael Kopech, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Spencer Adams have all been invited to camp next month. Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, Cody Asche, Cory Luebke and Geovany Soto are among the eight minor league free agents who also received an invitation. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 14 while the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.

Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December while Collins and Burdi were both selected in the 2016 amateur draft. Adams was drafted in 2014.

Signed earlier this month, Soto is expected to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. Soto, who played for the White Sox in 2015, finished last season with four home runs and an .809 OPS in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels.

Cabrera, who produced 4.6 Wins Above Replacement between 2012-13, hasn't played in the majors since he appeared in 29 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. Luebke, who has twice had reconstructive elbow surgery, finished with a 9.35 ERA in nine games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Asche blasted 31 homers with a .240/.298/.385 slash line in 1,287 plate appearances since 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other minor league free agents include: left-handed pitcher David Holmberg, right-handers Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak, and catcher Roberto Pena.

White Sox minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes, and outfielder Courtney Hawkins also have been invited to camp.

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