(CBS) — Inconsistency has been a problem for the White Sox in the fourth and fifth slots of the starting rotation.
In 20 starts by fifth starters, the White Sox have won just one game. Miguel Gonzales, who was roughed up for eight runs in 5.1 innings Saturday, has the only victory by a fifth starter this season. The saddest of results occurred with the Sox hitting seven one-run home runs, while still getting the bad end of a 10-8 loss to Toronto.
Gonzales was hit for all eight runs in the first four innings he pitched. The veteran right-handed starter was left in the game to eat up some innings. Manager Robin Ventura’s bullpen was running on fumes from overuse the past week.
“Everybody we had available today got in there,” Ventura said. “You have to mix and match and try to find your way through it. With (Gonzales), they got to him early, settled down and then got in trouble again. They have some thunder in their lineup. We just couldn’t hold them off.”
The White Sox scored their first four runs on home runs Brett Lawrie, Dioner Navarro and J.B. Shuck hit three consecutive round-trippers in the second inning off of knuckle ball pitcher R.A. Dickey. Lawrie’s was of the inside-the-park variety. The call was botched by the second base umpire Ted Barrett. Barrett signaled home run with a twirl of the hand. However, Lawrie’s drive to the left center bleachers hit the yellow line and bounced up and back into play as he circled the bases without a real play by Toronto.
Lawrie added another home run in the fourth inning and produced an RBI single in the sixth.
Ventura says protecting his bullpen meant using his starter for two extra frames. The White Sox have just one win from their fourth and fifth starters since May 23.
“We knew coming into the game we needed to pound the zone,” said Gonzales, who is 1-3 at U.S. Cellular Field with a 7.83 ERA in four starts at home. “That was not the case today. We scored a lot of runs. We have to win that game. That can’t happen. I will flush it and look forward to tomorrow with (Sox ace Chris) Sale on the mound.”
On the season, Chicago’s record is 7-13 in the fourth and fifth spots combined (31 starts). Mat Latos was 6-2 before he was released in mid-June. The addition of James Shields was supposed to shore up the innings-pitched problem from the rotation and give the pen some much-needed relief of its own. Instead, the Shields spot has been good for only 14.2 innings total in four starts.
Ventura had no choice but to watch Gonzales take a drubbing by the Blue Jays lineup.
“They have a well-oiled machine over there,” said Adam Eaton, who had one of the seven solo home runs. “They are tough to compete with. At the same time, hitting seven home runs, you would think you would win the ballgame. That is how baseball goes. Baseball is a weird game. A tough loss, but we know we can take the series tomorrow.”