Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A problem White Sox pitchers must fix

Dayan Viciedo's go-ahead double in the top of the ninth inning highlighted a two-run rally that lifted the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night.

Even with the win, the Sox are only 2-6 on their current 10-game road trip. That record is indicative of their play. It hasn't been good, and much of the focus has been on the team's offensive woes. The Sox are hitting .160 with runners in scoring position through 14 games.

We'll save that topic for another time because I want to talk about something else: The tendency of the Sox pitching staff to allow runs immediately after the offense scores. If you look at the six losses on the road trip, in five of those games Sox pitchers have received run support, only to hand it right back to the opposition:

April 9 at Washington:  With the Sox trailing 6-2 in the seventh inning, Paul Konerko belts a three-run home run to get the South Siders right back in the game. A glimmer of  hope? Nah. Donnie Veal's errant pickoff throw gives the Nationals a gift run in the bottom half of the inning, and Washington goes on to win 8-7.

April 10 at Washington: The Sox score a run in the top of the sixth to pull with a run of Washington at 3-2. Can Gavin Floyd (pictured) get his team back in the batters box quickly? Of course not. Floyd coughs up two more runs and gets knocked out of the game as the Sox lose 5-2.

April 11 at Washington: A two-run outburst in the top of the fourth inning pulls the Sox even at 3-3, but much like Floyd before him, Dylan Axelrod cannot stand prosperity. The right-hander immediately surrenders three runs and does not survive the bottom half of the inning. The Nationals prevail 7-4.

April 13 at Cleveland: The Sox get off to a good start with two runs in the top of the first inning. Heck, Chris Sale even retires the first two batters in the bottom half of the frame. Then, he issues a two-out walk to Ryan "The Bambino" Rayburn and gives up a two-run jack to the obnoxious Nick Swisher. That lead didn't last long. Sale gets shelled and the Sox lose 9-4.

April 15 at Toronto:  You gotta love Floyd, and trust me, I say that tongue planted firmly in cheek. The Sox jumped on their old friend Mark Buehrle for two runs in the top of the first inning. It took Floyd exactly three batters to blow that lead. Buehrle and the Jays eventually walked away with a 4-3 win.

Whenever a team goes on a losing streak, there are always multiple things you can point to as the cause of the problem. Right now, it's like pulling teeth for the Sox to score runs. When they do dent home plate, it's damn deflating when the other team gets those runs right back. It's happened again and again over the last week. Given that, it isn't surprising the results haven't been there for the Sox on this trip.

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