DETROIT — After getting outscored against Detroit in the series by a margin of 32-10, one could accurately say that the White Sox are now starting to struggle with their pitching. Although the White Sox put up a fight in the last contest, a hanging curveball by David Robertson, sent into the seats by Justin Upton for a 3-run, walk-off home run, resulted in a sweep by Detroit.
Derek Holland and Miguel Gonzalez both started their year hot. Now, they’re as cold as can be, and it showed in the first two games in the Motor City. On Friday, Holland barely made it into the third inning before a pair of home runs forced Rick Renteria to take him out of the game with the White Sox trailing 8-1.
Interestingly enough, the Tigers’ last five runs of the game all came on hits of Derek Holland’s knuckle curve. Though he wasn’t throwing his other pitches much better, Holland will need to maintain control of the knuckle curve, his main breaking ball pitch, if he wants to make it deeper into ballgames.
Unfortunately for the team, the problems on the mound have extended to the bullpen recently. After Holland exited, Michael Ynoa came in to hopefully eat some innings. Instead, he gave up two hits and two runs before exiting with a right hip flexor injury. He’s now on the 10-day disabled list. Gregory Infante fared well in relief, but Juan Minaya surrendered four runs and Dan Jennings allowed 1, as the game concluded with a 15-5 final score.
In that game, the offensive attack that posted five runs was spearheaded by Leury Garcia’s 2-hit, 3-RBI evening. Yolmer Sanchez continued to produce with a 2-hit, 2-run night.
On Saturday, things didn’t get much better. Miguel Gonzalez hoped to tame the Tigers offense, but to no avail. Though he provided a much-needed six innings of work, he allowed three home runs and consequently gave up six runs to Detroit. Similar to Holland, Gonzalez’s breaking pitch, the slider, was sub-par, as it was hit for four of the six runs.
With Nate Jones, Zach Putnam, and Ynoa on the DL, Brad Goldberg made his MLB debut out of the bullpen on Saturday. His career ERA now sits at 108.00 after giving up four runs in just 0.1 innings pitched.
Only Omar Narvaez stood out in the second game, as he singled three times. The team’s other six hits were spread out, and as a result, the White Sox lost 10-1.
Injuries have ravaged the White Sox’s starting rotation as well, and with James Shields, Carlos Rodon, and Dylan Covey all out, relief pitcher David Holmberg made his second start on Sunday. Luckily, he pitched decently again, nd kept the team in the game during his 3.2 innings pitched. The downside of that is the bullpen had to pick up the other 5.1 innings.
Detroit experienced a similar issue as Justin Verlander exited in the second inning with groin tightness. At that point, Detroit was down 2-0 after a (Avisail) Garcia RBI and a Todd Frazier home run.
The battle of the bullpens was close up until the ninth inning. Chris Beck, hurt by Yolmer Sanchez’s error, gave up two runs in the sixth inning as Detroit grabbed a 4-2 advantage. The White Sox got it right back in the eighth, as back-to-back-to-back doubles by Frazier, Tim Anderson, and Kevan Smith tied the game at 4 apiece off of Detroit’s Alex Wilson. With one out and Smith on second, the team failed to score.
In the ninth, the White Sox threatened again, but Detroit’s Justin Wilson escaped the no-out, ducks on the pond scenario and sent the game into the bottom of the ninth. There, closer David Robertson allowed a single, an intentional walk, and the home run on a 1-2 count to Justin Upton.
There isn’t too much from this series, but it’s still worth taking a look at. First, Todd Frazier collected four hits in the last two games, including a 3-5 day on Sunday. Hopefully, he can continue that success and break out of his season-long struggles.
Surprised by Leury Garcia’s and Yolmer Sanchez’s success this season? This series left no reason to doubt them, as both collected at least one hit in all three games.
Gregory Infante has done a commendable job after being called up recently, and he pitched 2.1 scoreless innings against Detroit. Furthermore, Tommy Kahnle has continued his dominance, as he lowered his ERA to 1.19 after a scoreless inning of work.
Injuries and bad breaking balls were the main issues this weekend, as they forced the depleted bullpen to pitch the majority of the innings in the series. A lot of the pitchers on the disabled list should be returning within the month, but until those returns happen, it looks like the White Sox are in trouble when it comes to pitching.
The hitting wasn’t too bad this series, as the White Sox racked up 30 hits in three games, but they stranded a heap of baserunners in each game.
Finally, two players have cooled off of late. Jose Abreu only had one hit against the Tigers, and Anthony Swarzak yielded a run in 1.1 innings pitched on Sunday.
With a tired bullpen, the White Sox (24-31) get a much-needed rest day today. On Tuesday, they will head down to St. Petersburg to square off against the Tampa Bay Rays (29-30). In a duel of aces, the struggling Jose Quintana (2-7, 5.60 ERA) opposes the Rays’ Chris Archer (4-3, 3.74 ERA) to kick off the 3-game set. Look out for our preview of that series tomorrow.