CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox's bullpen has struggled for much of the season. Despite numerous tweaks, things only seem to just be getting worse, and might have hit rock bottom Sunday afternoon.
After his team’s 16-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, manager Robin Ventura didn’t seem to have many answers for the pen other than going with what he has.
“They're the ones that are out there so we're going to have to come back in with these guys and find the confidence and the stuff to be able to do it,” Ventura said. “We have to be able to execute. They're the guys in there, so we're going to have to make it work somehow, just make it better.”
The bullpen tossed four innings Sunday, allowing 15 runs on 18 hits and five walks. The unit worked nine innings and gave up 22 runs in the entire three-game set, in which Chicago lost two.
After giving up three runs and taking the loss in a third of an inning Saturday, Ronald Belisario wasn’t much better Sunday, giving up four runs on four hits while failing to record an out.
“I don't know what to say," a confounded Belisario confessed. "They got us. I have nothing to say."
Sunday marked the sixth time Belisario had given up three runs or more in a single outing. One of four pitchers with multiple saves on the team, Belisario has posted a 6.23 ERA in 52 innings for the Sox this season.
The White Sox had been playing better of late, but a balky bullpen has hindered their ability to put a hot streak together and try to get into the American League wild-card race. But Ventura expressed optimism after the game that two big pieces were nearing return.
Zach Putnam (shoulder) -- who sports a 2.35 ERA in 38⅓ innings and had been thriving in high-leverage situations of late -- is expected to be back with the team Friday. And erstwhile closer Matt Lindstrom, on his way back from ankle surgery, made his second rehab appearance Sunday with Triple-A Charlotte and was hopeful of a return in the near future.
Whoever that arm might be, he had better be ready to pitch, because the White Sox can use all the relief they can get.