NEW YORK -- Erik Johnson worked hard to keep the White Sox in Sunday’s contest.
His offense didn’t do much to reward him for the effort.
Whether it was defensive errors or runners of his own, Johnson found himself in several predicaments against the New York Yankees. Ultimately it caught up with Johnson and the White Sox dropped the series finale and their final road game, 6-1, at Yankee Stadium. Johnson allowed three runs (two earned) with seven hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. Avisail Garcia’s solo homer was the only offense for the White Sox, who committed three errors and lost seven of 11 on their road trip.
“It was another one of those days where runners are going to be on base,” Johnson said. “That’s how it’s going to be. You just have to grind ‘em out and keep throwing up zeroes as best you can.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Combined with a leadoff walk by Jacoby Ellsbury, consecutive errors by Jose Abreu in the first inning with no outs made it appear Johnson would be in for a very long afternoon. Johnson surrendered a run on a Brian McCann sac fly but didn’t give in any further, stranding a pair. The right-hander also escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the third and stranded two more in the fourth.
“We made a couple of mistakes there that put him in a bind and I thought he got out of that pretty good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It could have been a lot worse and he just battled all day. Any time he got in a tough spot he was getting guys to pop up, he really bowed his neck and he got through it. This is a lineup that can work you over and they can get you into a high pitch count, which they got him. Later on we just couldn’t hold. We kept letting guys get on and they’re tough to hold down once you give themopportunities like that. We just gave them too many.”
Johnson retired five in a row before he yielded a solo home run to Dustin Ackley in the sixth inning that put the Yankees ahead 2-0. Johnson, who threw 121 pitches, then loaded the bases with a run scoring on a Rob Brantly passed ball. Ventura pulled Johnson after he walked Carlos Beltran to reload the bases.
While Johnson has had some success in his five starts, he’s run a high pitch count in each one. It sounds as if the International League pitcher of the year should get one more outing at home next week.
“It’s just being more efficient with the way I approach the earlier innings, earlier contact in play,” Johnson said. “Against a few hitters I went pretty deep in some counts, which takes a lot out of you, especially when you need to go six, seven for your team.”