Bullpen struggles again, changes possible

CHICAGO -- The way the Chicago White Sox tried to give this game away, it was amazing it lasted as long as it did.

Over 14 often eye-covering innings Wednesday night, the White Sox were finally their own worst enemy in a 6-4 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters and struck out just five, becoming the first team to walk that many and strike out that few since the Toronto Blue Jays did it in a 2002 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Another gem, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: The Red Sox became the first team since at least 1920 to reach base at least 23 or more times in a game with six or fewer hits.

"We just, for one reason or another, we didn’t seem to throw it over [the plate]," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "So, you know, a game that if you are going to give them that many opportunities, you are little surprised you are in it that late into the game."

When it was finished, utility infielder Leury Garcia took the loss. He had never pitched in a game before Wednesday, but he quickly followed the lead of the pitching staff by walking two batters, who came around to score and were the difference in the defeat.

Garcia could be excused for his control issues. The seven regular relievers to appear in the game walked a combined nine batters in seven innings. Daniel Webb walked three, but he looked worn down after three innings and a whopping 59 pitches.

It didn’t help that Ventura used four pitchers in the eighth inning alone, and with Lindstrom available, he let Maikel Cleto start the ninth inning with the White Sox clinging to a one-run lead. Cleto walked the first two batters before Lindstrom was called into the game.

Lindstrom ended up with the blown save when the tying run scored, but it was amazing he limited the damage to what it was. It was his third blown save on the young season, but in this one, there were actually positives.

"I could kind of see how they wouldn’t be confident in me in that situation, but I was feeling good," Lindstrom said. "I felt like I was ready and did my normal routine to get ready to go out there in the ninth. It was a tough loss. Our guys battled their [tails] off today."

The bullpen issues Wednesday came as no surprise. The White Sox entered the game with a 6.81 ERA over their past 13 games, and their 27 walks before Wednesday were last in the American League. They easily padded that total in the defeat.

So when the relievers gather in the bullpen for Thursday’s game against the Red Sox, Lindstrom said it will be time for a heart-to-heart.

"I think tomorrow, as a bullpen we can sit out there and talk a little about making sure we stay aggressive with our stuff in the zone, because we’ve got a pretty good defense behind us, too," Lindstrom said. “We need to realize that. It’s tough to hit, especially when it’s cold.

"As long as we can make sure we understand we have a good defense behind us and attack the zone, it’s going to be tough to hit. I found that myself a little tonight. I attacked the zone a little bit better with my sinker, and I got outs even when I wasn’t trying to do too much with it."

Who will be on hand for that meeting remains to be seen. After a hard work day, the White Sox could end up recalling a pitcher from the minor leagues. That would also mean somebody would be on their way out.

"I have full confidence in those guys," said starter John Danks, who walked four batters of his own. "I wish I could have gone deeper and saved those guys a little bit, but I have full confidence in those guys, and I believe, truly, whenever I come out of the game that it’s going to happen. Even the best bullpens in the league lose a lead like that. It’s part of it. There are 162 games, and it happens."