AL's best bullpen springs a leak

CHICAGO -- Things are going so poorly for the Chicago White Sox right now that even one of the reliable portions of the roster stumbled on Sunday.

The American League’s best bullpen over the first three weeks of the season blew a tire, giving up a four-run seventh inning that led to a 5-3 defeat against the weak-hitting Minnesota Twins. The lineup The Twins used had four hitters batting .208 or less and six at .225 or lower.

Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Jesse Crain combined to allow all four runs in the seventh inning as Gavin Floyd was left with a no-decision after giving up just one run and three hits over six innings.

The downward spiral started with Lindstrom, who entered having started his White Sox career with an eight-inning scoreless streak. He not only gave up two hits, but also allowed a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe.

“It probably wasn’t the right day to do that, have a blip,” Lindstrom said. “But any time you walk the leadoff guy, you are asking for trouble and you know my ball had some extra sink on it today. That first guy I was trying to groove a couple in there to see what my ball was doing and it was diving all over the place.”

The bullpen not only had a 1.36 ERA over its last 13 games before Sunday, the group entered with an American League-best 1.63 ERA to open the season. In addition to that, their .177 opponents’ batting average was also the best in the AL.

Crain ended up throwing a perfect eighth inning, but the bases-loaded double he gave up to Josh Willingham an inning earlier scored three runs and sent the Twins on their way to the victory. Addison Reed, who was less effective in non-save situations last season, pitched a perfect ninth inning.

Signs of trouble actually went back to Saturday when the White Sox used six relievers and four of them gave up a walk. Hector Santiago wasn't one of the relievers who walked a batter, but he took the loss in the 10th inning.

“It's just one of those where they usually come through,” manager Robin Ventura said. “The guys are human, it's going to happen on occasion. It's unfortunate. It's one of those where you go through a rut and you're just trying to get out of it. You’ve just got to keep your nose buried in it and stay strong.”

With the offense struggling, Lindstrom said it wasn’t a matter of trying to do too much to make up for other areas where the team is deficient.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “We’re just trying to go out there and do our job just like the hitters and starting pitchers are. We’ve gotten some great starting pitching performances from our staff. Today was just one of those days. It was tough to control the ball. We need to go back out tomorrow and get going.”