The White Sox bullpen has been pretty good of late. But it was also partially to blame for Saturday’s loss.
Such is the life of a relief corps.
Entering Saturday’s game against the visiting Royals, White Sox relievers had a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak going. That included five shutout frames in Friday’s split doubleheader with Kansas City.
But when Jose Quintana went just 5 1/3 innings Saturday — his shortest outing since May 7 — things got a tad trickier. And a bullpen that had been playing a man down since traveling across town to Wrigley Field for an Interleague series last weekend was pushed to its limits in a 7-6, 13-inning defeat.
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Zach Putnam relieved Quintana, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Jake Petricka snapped that scoreless streak by loading the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth. Zach Duke relieved Petricka, but a sacrifice fly and bases-loaded walk followed, giving the Royals a two-run lead and causing Petricka’s ERA to go up.
Daniel Webb and Dan Jennings teamed for four scoreless innings while the White Sox offense tied things up in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to the first of four extra innings. During that span, Jennings was mostly stellar while in the midst of a career-long outing. But his leadoff home run served up to Lorenzo Cain in the top of the 13th signaled that he was out of gas, and he took the loss with that hit being the game-winning one.
See? Good and bad for the bullpen Saturday.
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Jennings earned rave reviews from his manager and catcher for the longest outing of his career. He did a good job silencing the American League’s best team for 2 2/3 innings.
“Danny did a nice job,” Robin Ventura said. “He battled as long as he could, he gave up one in that stretch and you end up losing the game. But he battled, and he did what he was supposed to do. He gave us plenty of opportunities to score, and it didn’t happen.”
“He did an amazing job,” Geovany Soto said. “I mean, he was pounding the strike zone. He kept us in the ballgame. He threw three innings, four innings. He was great. He was awesome.”
Unfortunately for Jennings — even if his performance was a generally good one — his ERA jumped up to 6.59. His record dropped to 1-3.
“I think it was pretty evident from the last inning (that I ran out of gas),” Jennings said. “Guys behind me making great plays, that’s what kind of helped fuel me that last inning. But I felt like I kept going out there and throwing. If you’re getting people out, it’s a lot easier to go out and do it as opposed to if you’re struggling. I felt like I was still throwing the ball well, I was still hitting spots. So as long as I keep doing that, I feel fine, I keep going out.”
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All this action for the relief corps — five innings during Friday’s doubleheader and another 7 2/3 innings Saturday — means some changes might be necessary for the White Sox ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the Royals.
That might be going against the White Sox initial plan, what with an off day Monday and the recent All-Star break providing some rest for that short ‘pen. But Saturday’s workload might force the team’s hand and necessitate bringing in another arm.
But there are two words coming in Sunday’s game that generally mean the bullpen is going to have an easy day: Chris Sale.
“Sale’s pitching tomorrow, right?” Jennings asked with a smile. “I think we’ll be all right.”