I may have missed a beat or two the last couple days, but I’ve certainly been around enough the first two weeks of the season to be able to identify the withered lump of players the White Sox have been using to finish games.
This is an aberration, I promise. These pitchers are not that bad, and things will settle down once the bullpen finds its rhythm.
But for right now, they just don’t know how to get outs in a timely fashion.
Chris Sale, who pitched two innings of relief Tuesday, was called upon in the ninth inning Wednesday to protect a three-run lead, despite manager Ozzie Guillen telling reporters before the game that he was trying to avoid using Sale.
Three batters later, Sale had given up three hits and a run as Jesse Crain took the mound.
Jesse Crain came on and allowed a walk to load the bases before striking out Kurt Suzuki. Pinch hitter Ryan Sweeney came to bat, prompting another pitching change, to the tune of Matt Thornton.
Thornton struck out Sweeney – I’ll give you a quick game reset.
4-2 White Sox, top 9. Bases loaded, two out. No. 9 hitter, Cliff Pennington (.160 avg entering game) had missed the last two games (minus a pr/ss appearance late Monday) due to an infected sweat gland. Oh, you read that right.
So anyway, Pennington singles in two runs to send it to the bottom of the ninth where a deflated Sox offense does something like this:
Adam Dunn: strikeout swinging
Paul Konerko: Hits the ball a mile high, it lands in the catcher’s glove in foul territory about 10 feet from home plate.
Carlos Quentin: strikeout swinging
Thornton took the mound in the 10th inning and appropriately allowed three more runs before Tony Pena came in to stop the bleeding.
If Tony Pena is the band-aid in this bullpen, there is a serious problem.
John Danks pitched eight innings, allowed one run on five hits and struck out seven. He pitched a gem, but was pretty much at the end of his rope after the eighth. It was feasible that he could finish the game, but that’s not necessary with a three-run lead, right?
Maybe Ozzie will just leave him in next time.