Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen squandered another late lead in what amounted to an 8-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night, with Yency Almonte among the culprits.
Clayton Kershaw didn’t have his best stuff, but still held the White Sox to two runs through six innings. Almonte followed him out of the Dodgers bullpen and promptly retired the side in order in the seventh inning.
Unfortunately for Almonte, his return to the mound in the eighth inning wasn’t as smooth. He allowed a leadoff double to Eloy Jiménez and then gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Jake Burger.
“Yeah, they told me I had two more batters,” Almonte answered when asked if he knew he would be staying in the game. “I knew it was two righties coming up, so I knew in my head I had to go out there and get them out.”
Almonte missed his location on a 1-0 slider to Burger, which left his bat at 102.1 mph and traveled 380 feet off the left-field foul pole. “I missed,” Almonte explained. “It was a slider up and in. You don’t throw sliders up and in.”
Almonte is among several notable Dodgers relievers who have struggled this season. After a breakout campaign in 2022, he enters play Thursday with a 6.75 ERA, 5.49 FIP and 1.50 WHIP across 29 relief appearances.
“We have a really good group out there and unfortunately right now we’re not throwing the ball the way we should,” Almonte said. “Especially myself this year. With what I did last year, I’m beating myself up because I’m not doing what I know how to do.”
Despite returning much of the same group from last season, the Dodgers bullpen has been among the worst in the National League this year. The team ranks 14th in opponents batting average (.255) and last in ERA (4.90)
“We’re all just here to play baseball,” Almonte said. “No matter what the day is, or if it’s the starter going long, or needing to pick up innings. We just need to go out there and get the job done.”
Why did Yency Almonte pitch 8th inning?
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the loss that only Caleb Ferguson was unavailable in the second game of the series with the White Sox. Roberts added he considered going to a different reliever in the eighth inning but was comfortable sticking with Almonte, in part because he’d only thrown 10 pitches in the seventh.
“I don’t think that’s a big ask,” Roberts said of expecting Almonte to retire two batters in the eighth.
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