Marlins author five-run ninth-inning comeback to extinguish White Sox' flame

The White Sox crumbled in the ninth inning after leading the ball game through eight frames.

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Coming into Saturday's bout with the Marlins, the White Sox had won six of their last seven games, authoring a solid streak of quality outings against the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees.

An exquisite amount of defense and pitching jet the Sox into a successful string of games. They own the best ERA in June, holding onto a sharp 2.00 ERA through eight games. The defense hasn't allowed an error in nine games.

Until Saturday.

During the ninth inning, Joe Kelly came in for relief, loading the bases with the first three batters of the frame. With bases loaded, Bryan De La Cruz hit a choppy grounder to shortstop and Tim Anderson fielded the ball improperly, allowing the Marlins to tie the game with zero outs.

"I think I just tried to rush the throw," Anderson said after the game. "I knew they had a fast runner at third and just really tried to rush it. I just f----- it up."

That opened up the flood gates.

Kelly walked in a run. Yuli Gurriel earned an RBI on a fielder's choice play. Then, Jean Segura doubled to left field, hammering the proverbial nails in the Sox' coffin.

There are a lot of fingers to point in this game. But everyone had a hand in Saturday's pain-staking loss to the Marlins; especially the offense.

Yes, the White Sox' pitching staff has been elite. One of the best in June. Their defense has matched that energy, too. The Sox are making textbook plays without error, leaving no room for scored runs. But their offense has been quite the opposite.

In June, the Sox represent the sixth-worst offense in MLB, scoring 23 runs in eight games. They're batting .200 as a squad this month, which is recognizably bottom-tier hitting. Luckily, their pitching and defense has stabilized the choppy waters.

Now, let's dig a little deeper into Saturday's game. Forgive the microscope.

Pedro Grifol mentioned after the loss both Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks were unavailable to pitch from the bullpen. Grifol wanted to preserve arms that threw on Friday night. Graveman and Hendriks both pitched late during the Sox' win on Friday.

Relievers from Saturday's game included Gregory Santos -- who handed Luis Arraez just his 12th strikeout of the season -- Reynaldo Lopez, Garrett Crochet and Kelly.

Kelly, in my opinion, should not have pitched the ninth inning.

Yes, over the course of his career, Kelly has consistent evidence of being a phenomenal closer. In 218 career opponent plate appearances in the final frame, Kelly has a scorching 1.98 ERA. Opposing hitters are sub .200 from the plate when Kelly pitches the ninth inning. Over his career, he's only ever allowed 13 total runs.

This season, though, has been quite the opposite for Kelly in the ninth. In five ninth inning appearances, Kelly holds a 7.20 ERA. His opponents are batting .250 from the plate, scoring four runs in five innings.

On Saturday, Kelly scraped through 0.1 innings, giving up two hits, five runs and two walks.

As much as this decision may have concluded similarly, I would have used Crochet. Three of the Marlins' first four batters were right handers, giving Crochet an advantage there. And Crochet, while not having much ninth inning experience, has only ever given up four runs in 44 opposing plate appearances during the final frame.

It's a difficult argument to make, yes. Even so, the circumstances of a one run game -- where the offense isn't producing -- could've given way to request a tired arm to pitch the ninth.

The Sox needed one frame to notch a third straight series win, but came up short at the finish line.

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