La Russa defends decision to let García hit in 6th originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The White Sox had chances to score against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels bullpen on Thursday. But the team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position and ultimately fell 4-1. Even though pretty much every batter not named José Abreu struggled at the plate, fans on social media latched on to the fact that big hitters spent the whole game on the bench, instead of pinch hitting in a pivotal spot. The one moment that drew the most criticism was in the sixth inning, with two outs and men on first and third. Leury García and his .197 average came to the plate, while Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger一 two of the team’s biggest hitters一 remained on the sidelines.
“I’m watching Leury’s at-bats,” Tony La Russa said of the decision to stick with García. “You see Leury’s at-bats? You know? He also, he walked against Ohtani, which nobody was doing. Put the ball in play. In the ninth, the two hitters who had the best numbers against (Raisel) Iglesias were the two guys that led off: García and (Josh) Harrison. So, I like what I’m seeing.”
Many fans called for Andrew Vaughn to come in to hit in that situation, but La Russa said before the game that the team wanted to take advantage of Thursday’s off day to give him an extended rest. After the game, La Russa reiterated that Vaughn was down for the day. But that still doesn’t explain why Burger didn’t hit, especially when you take into consideration his .326/.388/.651 split against lefties.
“Burger was up,” La Russa said. “There was a chance he was going to hit for Sheets later on.”
That never came to fruition, though. With a righty on the mound the next time Sheets’ spot in the lineup came around, La Russa opted to leave him in, rather than give Burger an at-bat. Rather than expand more on that particular moment, La Russa went back to further defend his decision to leave García at the plate in the sixth…