Thursday, July 22, 2010
Updated: 2:28 AM
By Brett Ballantini
SEATTLE You cant dwell on days like this. You cant dwell on them.
As much as Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks admitted struggling to find good answers to his horrific week out of the bullpen, its this mantra, along with the image of his head in hands in front of his locker, that resounds.
Jenks lost his second game in relief in the last four days, spoiling an apparent 11th-inning win by surrendering a one-out, two-run single to Franklin Gutierrez that gave the Seattle Mariners a 2-1 win on Wednesday night.
After the game, a distressed Ozzie Guillen declared the closers role open and that the team would finish games based on situational matchups for the time being.
I get paid to win games, the White Sox manager said. Im going to put the guys out there who have the best shot. Were a better ballclub with Bobby as closer. But we have a few options, and were going to see what those options are.
Omar Vizquels single with two out in the top of the 11th gave the White Sox their brief 1-0 lead. Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson led off the bottom half with a perfect bunt single and was moved to second on an Ichiro Suzuki sacrifice. Chone Figgins smacked a sharp single and stole second to put the winning runs in scoring position when Gutierrez stroked the game-winner.
I feel strong. Things just didnt work out today, Jenks said. Sunday in Minnesota, that was on me. Today I felt good and made pitches.
With this one, theres nothing to do about it. Wilsons bunt hit to start off the inning was goodthe pitch was down, he just put it in the right spot. The ball to Figgins I got in on him, he kept his hands inside well and hit the ball back up the middlehe didnt hit it hard. Gutierrezs base hit, if Alexei Ramirez was playing over it probably would have been right at him.
Before the 11th-inning heroics on both sides, Seattle and Chicago were embroiled in a deliciously swift pitchers duel.
Chisox starter Gavin Floyd pitched seven scoreless innings, notching six Ks against just one walk and five hits. The hurler had just one true close call, coming in the fourth, when Casey Kotchman clocked a Floyd flip down the right-field line that landed a wisp foul. One pitch later, the stalwart righty punched the first baseman out for his second K of the game, ending the inning. Floyd seemingly got stronger as the game went on, striking out the side in the sixth.
Seattle starter Felix Hernandez you know is going to go out there and pitch a good game, Floyd said. Youve just got to focus on what you can to try to do your job.
Until Floyds final inning, Seattle had been stymied by White Sox pitching; in the 16 innings in the series leading up to the Mariners seventh, Chicago had held its opponent to just five hits.
Hernandez was even more masterful than Floyd, using just 93 pitches to cruise through eight innings of two-hit ball. The King retired the last 17 White Sox he faced.
Thats fun to watch; thats good baseball, Guillen said. Unfortunately, we finished like that.
Chicago rallied in the ninth, as Juan Pierre turned a HBP into a double with a stolen baseagain employing his swim technique. But after a walk to Vizquel, both Alex Rios and Paul Konerko failed to push Pierre home.
In the bottom of the ninth, Seattles streak of 25 scoreless innings in the seriesyes, theyd scored their only run in the first inning of the openerwas extended in a most unorthodox manner. An infield hit by Figgins (sacrificed to second by third-place hitter Gutierrez) and an intentional walk to Jose Lopez put two runners on with one out. Chisox reliever Sergio Santos coaxed a broken bat from Milton Bradley that blooped dangerously to right, but former Gold Glover Andruw Jones made an outstanding diving catch and instantaneous whirl to first to double off Lopez.
Indicative of the fact that Seattles baserunning is nearly as bad as its hitting, Lopezs run was meaningless. In Little League, you might go without postgame treats for such a gaffe.
Both teams went out meekly in the 10th, White Sox reliever Erick Threets striking out the side in the bottom half. Threets was in position for his first major-league victory prior to Seattles comeback on Jenks.
With one out in the 11th, Gordon Beckham jumped on a Brandon League pitch and left it just five feet short of a tiebreaking homer. But Bacon settled for a double, advancing to third on Pierres fly to right and setting up Vizquels apparent game-winner.
We had some breaks today and thought wed pull it together and win it, so obviously, you want to win these games, Floyd said. But there a lot of season left.
Theres no lost faith in here, said Santos, who pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball. You put this behind you. We have all the faith in the world in Bobby. Thats just the way pitching is.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.