After his two dropped fly balls in the past four games cost the White Sox a pair of victories, Pierre was solemn when talking about the latest gaffe in a 2-1 defeat to the Oakland A's on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I just missed it, just flat-out missed it and take full responsibility,” Pierre said after the A's tied the score 1-1 in the ninth on his drop at the warning track. “I do my work every day and it happens. In those key situations, you don’t want it to. You don’t want it any time, but definitely not in the ninth inning with a close game like that. It’s cost us two games. But the sun will come up tomorrow and I’ll be out there working still and hopefully get it turned around.”
Manager Ozzie Guillen mentioned that it was a tough play and the wind was blowing hard, but Pierre wasn’t making any excuses.
“I appreciate [Guillen] saying it,” Pierre said. “I just flat out missed it. It basically cost us two games on the schedule so far. I can handle the booing, but when you got a guy like Thornton out there closing for the first time, busting his butt, and you play that way behind him, I feel worse for him as well as the team. It happens. I don’t know what else you can say.”
Defense was supposed to be a strength for the White Sox, but they have committed 10 errors in 10 games so far.
“We are a good defensive team,” Guillen said. “I think our defense has been playing pretty good baseball. Unfortunately, when we make a miscue it’s late in the game.”
Thornton has now blown all three of his save chances since becoming the White Sox closer, but didn't get any defense behind him in two of those. Like Pierre, though, he was asking for the blame after giving up a leadoff double in the ninth inning to No. 9 hitter Andy LaRoche.
“The first batter, I made three good pitches and then made a [terrible] fourth pitch and he drove it for a double,” Thornton said. “I don’t care what happens after that, you can’t do that with a leadoff guy in a one-run game. I’ve got to bury that slider. I left it in the zone, and he was able to do what he did with it.”
Despite losing a chance at victory when the A’s rallied in the ninth inning, Mark Buehrle said that both Thornton and Pierre have his full support.
“I don’t think anybody’s worried about it,” Buehrle said. “I know fans are getting on [Thornton] a little bit, and rightfully so, he’s blown two games, but he’s getting guys to hit the ball. We need to make some plays behind him. It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of the game and that’s why you play nine innings.”
Brent Lillibridge, who hit the 10,000th home run in White Sox history to give them a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, said nobody has any complants about Pierre.
“Juan works his tail off and has all the respect in the world in this clubhouse,” Lillibridge said. “He’s had a couple of tough plays but it’s not a lack of effort and it’s not a lack of drive. He’s going to be the hardest guy on himself and we want him to know it’s not a big deal.
“We’re going to win a bunch of games because of him. It just shows up in games like this early and it looks big, but we have a long season ahead of us and he’s going to win a lot of games for us. You talk to all of us and we’re not worried about anything.”