Panic began to infiltrate Matt Thornton owners yesterday when Chris Sale was called upon to protect a 4-1 lead in a save situation yesterday against the Rays. Thornton blew his second save of the season Friday allowing four hits, five runs, and a home run to take a loss. He wasn't helped by the defense, which made two errors leading to no earned runs.
Thornton was unavailable yesterday after throwing 33 pitches Friday. He has not lost the job yet. Over the last three seasons, Thornton has been one of the best relievers in the majors. It has come mostly as a setup man.
Thornton hasn't lost the job yet according to manager Ozzie Guillen, and he shouldn't because we're talking about just two games. The leash for Thornton may have got shorter with Sale, Sergio Santos, and Jesse Crain all pitching well. Sale did allow a leadoff homer to Felip Lopez before getting the next three outs.
There's no question Thornton has the skills to close. He will be a very good closer if Guillen is patient. If you own Thornton and want to be safe, add Sale or Santos as backup plans.
UPDATE: After backing Thornton, Guillen said he will go by his gut when choosing a pitcher for the ninth inning. He said Thornton will get most of the opportunities, but he will put the best guys out there.