"It's baseball," Konerko said. "You catch teams in different moments during the season, a series here and there. There's a lot of parity in the game now. I don't read too much into that."
-a quote from Paul Konerko stuffed at the end of Dave Van Dyck's article on Philip Humber
There's truth to that, just like there's truth in every reminder from Konerko to not get carried away. Still, the Sox went 2-4 for the week, and lost three games solely because their pitching gave them next to no chance to win, and two of those contests were against the lowly Houston Astros.
For an organization that prides itself on pitching development, and for a team that's only solidified area going into the season was the starting rotation, it stings, and one would imagine there will be little tolerance for it.
White Sox starters offered a 4.46 ERA for the week in 36.1 total innings, or six innings per start. They got quality outings from Jake Peavy and Jose Quintana, and a superlative Saturday performance from Chris Sale.
On the opposite side of the ledger was Philip Humber and Gavin Floyd
Humber was the one Sox pitcher to make two starts this week, and responded by giving up 10 ER and five homers in 10.1 innings, raising his season's ERA to 5.92. That's the sort of ERA that was bad even in 1994.
Humber will keep pitching, Ventura said, "whether that's starting or the bullpen, I don't know. But it has to get better."
On the plus side for Philip, Ventura also said Floyd was "very similar", even if his most recent performance looked downright encouraging in comparison. He got through a full six innings, also recorded nine strikeouts like Humber did Sunday, and was downright ebullient in the wake of an outing where he took the loss and allowed two home runs.
“(Friday) was a big step for me,” Floyd said. “I felt great. It just felt like I was going out there having fun, attacking the mitt.”
Sox hitters produced 31 runs in six games, for a 5.17 runs per game average. Obviously, that's quite fantastic, and not typical of a 2-4 stretch, but a third of it was used up on Saturday when Chris Sale barely needed anything.
The triple slash line for the week was a far more mundane .263/.301/.383, which is even farther below league average when you remember that all of these six games were played in U.S. Cellular. The absence of Paul Konerko for two games--and replacement with Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge certainly dragged the numbers down a bit.
Other factors were Alexei Ramirez failing to reach base for the entire Toronto series and Dayan Viciedo's hot streak ending with a 2 for 17, extra-base hit free stretch.
Gordon Beckham's resurgence is a myth; he went 6 for 26 for the week, and hasn't drawn a walk since May 27th.
If the bullpen performance came off as less than optimal, perhaps this disparity will illuminate why that is.
Zach Stewart - 5.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, BB, 4 K, 2 HR
Thornton/Crain/Reed - 4.1 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR
Which is not to say that Robin Ventura was using Stewart when he should not have--unless he simply should be avoided at all costs--but more that situations where the Sox had to conserve a close lead offered themselves.
If Stewart is going to continue to struggle to keep the ball in the yard (and he's allowed six home runs in 23.1 IP), more judiciousness might be necessary. Home runs off Stewart removed the drama from Wednesday night's loss, and were the difference Sunday.
Orlando Hudson's reaction times at 3rd base were tested more this week, to disappointing results. Brent Morel's injury setback means he'll have plenty of time to adjust.
The Astros caught the Sox unprepared for a double steal on Friday night, and found their execution so wanting that they pulled the same trick Sunday for the same result. Alexei can be made to look bad some times when he's snapped out of his element.
Since the best defense is the defense that goes without noticed, everyone else pretty much did fine.
The coming week brings an interleague road trip to St. Louis and Los Angeles. The Cardinals are far more talented than their 31-30 record, the Dodgers aren't quite as good as they're league-best 39-22 mark. Both will be tough, but as Paulie said, maybe that won't matter
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Tags: addison reed, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel, Chris Sale, Dayan Viciedo, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, houston astros, Jake Peavy, jesse crain, Jose Quintana, los angeles dodgers, Matt Thornton, Paul Konerko, philip humber, Robin Ventura, st. louis cardinals, toronto blue jays, Tyler Flowers, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox, zach stewart