Sox bullpen gets the break it needed

Hector Noesi kept the White Sox bullpen off the field a day after it allowed 15 runs to Minnesota. AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles

CHICAGO -- Rain fell in buckets Monday, giving the Chicago White Sox's bullpen a symbolic cleansing following a filthy performance Sunday.

A 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers, called after 6½ innings because of a downpour, meant that the bullpen had to only sit back and do some soul-searching.

The relievers will have to take the mound soon enough, most likely Tuesday in support of starter John Danks, but there was no work Monday, a day after they were bruised and battered in giving up 15 runs on 18 hits over four innings against the Minnesota Twins.

Credit White Sox starter Hector Noesi with a seven-inning start, one that technically will go down as a complete game. The rest of the credit goes to the rain that shortened the game, not to mention a Tyler Flowers two-run single in the sixth inning that broke a tie a half-inning before the game was stopped.

“You know, I said to one guy in the bullpen that I wanted to go eight innings to help them,” Noesi said. “I tried to and I went seven, and rain gave me a complete game.”

The bullpen did get some reinforcement Monday in the form of Maikel Cleto, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. More help is on the way, as Zach Putnam started a rehab assignment at Charlotte as he recovers from a sore shoulder. Matt Lindstrom is also at Charlotte, getting close to his own return after ankle surgery in May.

But White Sox manager Robin Ventura did not want Monday’s break for the bullpen to be about getting one day closer to the returns of Putnam and Lindstrom.

“We’re going to have to use them, so, for them, they’re just going to have to be ready,” Ventura said. “They’re going to have to be better.”

Noesi’s intention of going deep into Monday’s game was nice, but in the early going it didn’t look as if that was going to happen. Pitching against the team that designated him for assignment in April, the right-hander made a costly error in the second inning.

While covering first base, Noesi couldn’t handle a flip from first baseman

Jose Abreu and touch the bag at the same time. Instead of recording the third out of the inning, the Rangers got another chance and Rougned Odor took advantage with a two-run home run that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.

Abreu got the White Sox close in the third inning with a two-run single and Flowers tied the score with a solo home run in the fifth. With rain starting to fall in the sixth, the White Sox put runners on second and third and looked to have a prime scoring chance.

Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza struck out, though, and with the White Sox bullpen starting to stir, Flowers came through with a two-run single.

"We had that error early in the game and every time you have an error, it always seems to bite you," Flowers said. "They hit that home run and it was looking like it might be a tough day, but [Noesi] did a good job of bouncing back, command pitches, changing speeds and anticipating the rain coming too. So to be able to get deep into the game and save the bullpen, it was pretty good."

Daniel Webb threw some warm-up pitches in the seventh, but Noesi got through the inning, pumping his fist when Conor Gillaspie made a solid play on the infield to get the third out. The delay started shortly after the half-inning ended.

As he did last month after a victory over the Seattle Mariners, another of Noesi's former teams, the right-hander donned a baseball cap with the word “REVENGE” written on the front. He wasn’t about to hide the joy of beating his former team, but then tried to deny it was on his mind.

“I just try to pitch,” Noesi said. “Like with Seattle, I just go and try to throw my pitches.”

Noesi said all the right things, but he admitted that he will bring his “REVENGE” cap with him on the next road trip. He just happens to be on track to start at Seattle over the weekend.

After this outing, anyway, perhaps members of the bullpen can come up with a cap that says “THANK YOU” across the front.

“I don’t know that you can necessarily plan it, but in the end, you’re happy that Hector was able to go seven,” Ventura said. “We didn’t have to use anybody out there in a rain-shortened game.”