It’s not as if Matt Albers has never struggled before in his 11-year career. What’s surreal about this run is how long it has been since Albers has experienced a rough patch like this.
The White Sox reliever entered Wednesday’s game with losses in three consecutive appearances and an 11.12 ERA over his last six games.
But prior to allowing two unearned runs on April 30, Albers hadn’t been scored upon since Aug. 4, 2015. In between, Albers established a franchise-record with 30 straight scoreless appearances over 33 innings.
“I haven't had that feeling of disappointment in a little while, but I knew it was going to come,” Albers said. “Teams and as a player, you know over a long season you're going to have some little hiccups. So I just try to not to change too much. Get back to what I was doing successfully, so I don't have to change too much. My arm's feeling good, the ball's coming out well. Just kind of mix it up and execute a little bit better.”
The velocity of Albers’ recent outings has been consistent with his 92.9 mph season average, according to brooksbaseball.net. But he’s left his two-seamer up more often and hitters have taken advantage. Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer off Albers in the 11th inning on Tuesday. Albers has allowed six runs and six hits in his last 2 2/3 innings.
“He’s been through times where he’s given up runs and he’s been through a stretch where he hasn’t given up any,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Attitude-wise he’s still the same guy and we’re all in this together. Everybody is picking each other up and we feel like we’re still going to win games.”
Albers’ scoreless streak was tied with Jack Harshman (1954) for the seventh-longest in club history was the longest by innings since Joel Horlen had 37 in 1968. He believes he can get back on track with a few minor adjustments.
“You've just got to keep an even head,” Albers said. “I've just kind of got to get over it, go back and look, ‘Why did that happen?’ I just didn't execute pitches.
“I feel good and I know I'm throwing strikes. I just have to execute a little bit better and get the ball down. I think that's the main thing for a sinkerball guy, getting the ball down. So I think the main thing for me is just staying over the rubber a little bit and make sure you get the ball down.”