Tony La Russa did not end his season quietly.
The White Sox manager slammed the Astros after reliever Kendall Graveman hit Jose Abreu with a pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday, which Houston won 10-1 to eliminate La Russa’s squad.
“It will be a good test of the character and credibility of the winning team because it was intentional,” La Russa said after the game. “Catcher kept looking in the dugout, so they did hit him intentionally.
“I’ll be really curious. They should have the guts to admit that they did it.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker took offense to La Russa’s accusations.
“I beg to differ with Tony,” Baker said. “There was no intent, and there was no reason to do that. Zero.”
The Astros’ romp ended a contentious series in which White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera accused Houston batters of “sketchy stuff,” harkening back to the sign-stealing scandal that marred the franchise’s reputation.
“Disrespectful words with no facts with nothing to say,” Astros star shortstop Carlos Correa said in his on-field interview after Game 4.
“We scored six runs at home, then we scored, what, like nine? Then we scored six again here, they just happened to score 12. And then you look at our OPS on the road, that’s the best in all the big leagues through a 162-game season which we played 81 on the road. Their OPS was a lot higher at home than it was on the road. He needs to know the facts.”
The Astros now shift their focus to the Red Sox in the ALCS, while the 77-year-old La Russa and the White Sox decide if he comes back for a second season as manager. The star-studded Chicago team cruised to an AL Central title to seemingly overcome concerns that La Russa could relate to today’s player.
However, the early postseason exit and a handful of controversies, including a DUI arrest a day before he was hired, could leave some room for change.
“I’m not gonna talk about myself,” La Russa said. “The process I’ve used once I had a little security — probably about the fifth or sixth year — is ‘do they want you back?’ I just leave if they don’t want you back. They say yes, then you ask the players. They should choose who they want to manage. If you get both of those, then you check yourself.”