SEATTLE – Ozzie Guillen said he is prepared to use a committee of closers after Bobby Jenks blew his second save in the past four games.
Handed a lead in the 11th inning Wednesday, Jenks gave up a pair of runs on a Franklin Gutierrez single and just like that, the White Sox’s 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Mariners reduced their lead in the American League Central to 2½ games.
“Our options are open now,” Guillen said. “I get paid to win games. That’s my job, win games. And I’m going to put the guys there with the best shot. When I [changed Jenks’ role] last time [in May], it worked out again because all of a sudden we come back and I put him in the eighth inning and I like the way he threw the ball and I put him back in the closing spot.
“We’re a better club with Bobby as the closer. In the meanwhile, we got a few options and we’re going to see what the options are. We’ll see if we can regroup him, put him in the situation like we did last time and we see what happens.”
J.J. Putz, who has a franchise-record 25 consecutive scoreless appearances, would seem to be the first option to close games now. He had 76 saves over two seasons with the Mariners from 2006-07. But Guillen is willing to give left-hander Matt Thornton and right-hander Sergio Santos a look there too, while also working Jenks back into the mix.
It could be as simple as using the pitcher who has the better numbers against the three batters due to come to the plate.
Jenks isn’t going to get down on himself. The Mariners’ 11th-inning rally started with a bunt single and it went downhill from there. Unlike Sunday at Minnesota when all four batters he faced reached base, he did get an out this time. The bad news was that the out was a sacrifice bunt from Ichiro Suzuki that moved Jack Wilson to second base.Chone Figgins also singled and when he stole second base, the Mariners were in business for the first time the entire game. Gutierrez drilled one to the right of Alex Rios in center field. Figgins scored even though he first turned toward back to second base on the line drive.
“I feel strong,” Jenks insisted. “I feel like I have the past month and a half, two months. Things just didn’t work out today. The other day in Minnesota, that was on me. But today, I felt good. I made pitches, they just got hit today.”Asked what he is seeing out of Jenks, Guillen was blunt as usual.
“Nothing,” Guillen said. “His velocity is not there and they feel very comfortable against him. I keep saying, closing is not an easy job. But in the meanwhile, even [Tuesday] when he got people out we made a couple plays on the field.”
Jenks did pitch a perfect inning in a non-save situation against the Mariners Tuesday but Omar Vizquel and Alexi Ramirez both made tough defensive plays to help him.
The defense was at it again Wednesday night not only on the infield but in the outfield as well. Andruw Jones snatched away a potential game-winning hit in the ninth inning, tumbling to the ground after a running catch and completing a double play on the infield.
Gavin Floyd pitched seven scoreless innings to match the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, who actually went one more inning in his own scoreless outing. The White Sox finally broke through in the 11th when Gordon Beckham doubled, went to third on a Juan Pierre fly ball and scored on a Vizquel single.
“Today the team battled their butts off all game long and on days like that it’s when you feel the worst,” Jenks said.
By the numbers
9: Consecutive starts where Gavin Floyd has allowed two earned runs or less, including his seven scoreless innings Wednesday. It was his second scoreless outing of the season. Over those last nine starts, Floys has a 1.16 ERA dating back to June 8. No American League pitcher has a better ERA over that stretch.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I don’t see anything. I don’t think anything is wrong. I should be the first one to know what’s going on physically, I don’t know about mentally. But Bobby is pretty strong kid. I don’t think those games bother him. When he doesn’t pitch well, he erases it and comes back the next day.” -- manager Ozzie Guillen, when asked about Jenks’ tendency to be streaky out of the closer role.
After an off day Thursday, Mark Buehrle (8-8, 4.18) will take the mound for the opener of a three-game series Friday at Oakland. The left-hander is coming off a complete game last weekend against the Twins, although he was the losing pitcher. Over his last seven starts, he is 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA. Over his last six road starts he has a 2.63 ERA, but just a 3-2 record to show for it. Buehrle will face off against Oakland’s Trevor Cahill (9-3, 3.19).