Two victories bookended the White Sox's first significant losing streak of the season in a week that further highlighted the team's pitching woes.
The issues that plagued the pitching staff all season came to a head in Wednesday's 6-4, 14-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox. Whether you want to place a majority of the blame on the plethora of pitchers unable to put the ball over the plate, or the manager who shuffled through so many pitchers that utility infielder Leury Garcia had to take the mound in the 14th inning, it was ugly. Really ugly.
It would obviously be difficult for Robin Ventura to be able to portend that Wednesday's game would last so long, but the fact of the matter is that he cannot continue to shuffle through relievers with such frequency. Yes, the bullpen had control issues. But he has such a quick hook when a reliever shows the slightest bit of control issues he doesn't allow them to even have the opportunity to work out of it themselves.
On Wednesday, Jake Petricka and Scott Downs faced single batters. Donnie Veal and Ronald Belisario (who actually pitched well in that game) faced three a piece. I'm not saying the White Sox would have won the game had any of them stayed in the game for another batter or two, in fact, it may have ended quicker. But having a quick hook on relievers leads to situations where you risk blowing out the arm of the talented, young Daniel Webb, or are forced to put poor Garcia in such a terrible situation.
It's rare enough to have a position player pitch in a game. Even more rare is him doing so in a tie game.
A more indirect result of Wednesday's atrocity was Felipe Paulino's final start in a White Sox uniform — or at least his last for a considerable amount of time. Paulino was a train wreck in Friday's start against the Texas Rangers, and given how much work his bullpen had seen in the days prior, Ventura decided Paulino was going to wear the loss. And he wore it well before being placed on the disabled list the next day.
Other bits and pieces from the past seven days:
- Tyler Flowers continues to be a BABIP machine, as he's currently hitting at a .606 clip on balls in play. He's still a hacker, with eight strikeouts and zero walks during the last seven days (up to 20 and 3, respectively, on the season), so his batting average is going to drop significantly as his luck runs dry. But his production at least offers a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the catching position won't be the black hole it was last season.
- Adam Dunn has somewhat quietly put together a very solid first three weeks of the season. His .OPS is up to .899 and has been taking more pitches than he did during his first few years with the team. His numbers have been impressive despite going 0-for-6 during Sunday's 16-2 thrashing of the Rangers, which led to this little tidbit from Christopher Kamka:
Adam Dunn is first #WhiteSox player to go 0-6 in a game his team scored 16+ runs since Nellie Fox (0-6) 7/30/1953 in 17-1 win vs Red Sox.
- Tuesday's series opener against Boston showed that the White Sox are, in fact, capable of winning low-scoring games. Erik Johnson put together one of his more impressive efforts at the Major League level striking out nine against an impressive Red Sox lineup. Unfortunately, Johnson followed up that impressive no-decision with one of the luckiest starting pitcher victories in recent memory, walking five (including the leadoff man in the first four innings) against Texas on Sunday. Of course, Johnson took the victory in that game. #KillTheWin
- The combination of Downs, Petricka, Belisario and Veal combined to allow just one Boston baserunner over the final 2.1 innings of the aforementioned Johnson start, leaving me optimistic that maybe they've turned a corner. This was the day before the 14-inning meltdown.
- Alexei Ramirez saw his hitting streak come to an end in Saturday's loss to the Rangers. He followed up that 0-fer by going 2-for-5 in Sunday's finale.
- Jose Abreu went through a rough seven-game stretch that he appeared to bust out of toward the end of the week. After going 1-for-25 in one stretch (he did draw four walks over the course of those 25 at-bats and is up to eight for the season), he's now 5-for-9 over his past two games and hit his fifth home run of the season on Sunday, an opposite field shot that showed off the strength that had scouts raving.
This week: four games @ Detroit; four games vs. Tampa Bay