Kyle Lobstein limited the South Siders to just five hits over 7.2 innings to pick up a 4-1 victory.
Given where the Sox are in the standings, it was probably unrealistic to think they could win three straight games against a superior Detroit team. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to watch Sox hitters get mesmerized by another soft-tossing left-hander.
Lobstein's performance and pitching line Thursday reminded me a little bit of what Minnesota's Tommy Milone did to spoil the Sox home opener April 10.
Lobstein on Thursday: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 Ks, 2 BBs
Milone on April 10: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 7 Ks, 2 BBs
Milone has since lost his spot in the Minnesota rotation, and I don't know if Lobstein will stay in the Detroit rotation once Justin Verlander comes back from the disabled list. But, if other teams are smart, they'll throw guys like Lobstein and Milone at the Sox at every opportunity. The Sox simply cannot solve soft-tossing lefties.
In any case, up next for the Sox is a three-game interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds. It's hard to envision Chicago getting back in the AL Central race, because the back of its starting rotation is so weak.
The Reds are fortunate to not be facing any of the Sox's top three pitchers. Instead, they'll be getting a look at those back-end starters. Here are the weekend matchups;
Friday: Hector Noesi vs. Jason Marquis
Saturday: Carlos Rodon vs. Johnny Cueto
Sunday: John Danks vs. Michael Lorenzen
Without question, Saturday's game is the marquee matchup. Rodon, the Sox top prospect, will make his first start at the major league level, and he'll be going against the Reds ace. Cueto was a 20-game winner on a losing team in 2014.
Even if Rodon doesn't win, if he fares well, he could put the pressure on Noesi and Danks.
Noesi is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts this season. He has lost each of his last six starts dating back to last year. He has yet to make it through the sixth inning in any of his appearances this year. On two occasions, he was knocked out in the fifth inning.
Danks is 1-3 with a 6.20 ERA in five starts. He was knocked out in the third inning his last time out in a 13-3 loss to Minnesota.
Combined, Danks and Noesi are 1-6 with a 6.41 ERA in eight starts. That is not competitive pitching, folks. There is no way a team can contend for a playoff spot when 40 percent of its starting rotation is performing so poorly.
There's an opportunity here for Rodon to potentially knock one of those two poor performers out of the Sox rotation. We'll see if he takes advantage.