“When you have good pitching, you’re always going to have a chance,” Guillen said.
Both the White Sox bullpen and starting staff has been stellar since the All-Star Break compiling a 1.92 ERA in 107 2/3 innings pitched. Floyd has been the biggest star among the staff, giving up only two earned runs in 22 1/3 innings in his last three starts.
His catcher A.J. Pierzynski said the two of them had a talk when they returned from the break.
“We tried to make some adjustments, in pitch selection and his motion a little bit,” Pierzynski said. “Just being more aggressive, speeding up the tempo, throwing a lot more pitches inside. He’s always had the ability to do it, he’s just doing it now and he’s getting strikes in there.”
Floyd allowed three hits and one run, a solo home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, while striking out six and walking two in seven brilliant innings. It was those two walks that almost hurt him though, as they both came in the sixth inning, but Floyd was able to wriggle out of the jam with Kevin Youkilis at the plate.
“The biggest pitch was Youkilis, bases loaded,” Floyd said. “I walked a couple guys to get bases loaded, but being able to execute that pitch and strike him out looking was a key out for me.”
Floyd was nearly matched pitch for pitch by the Red Sox knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield. Wakefield cruised through five innings allowing only one hit. However, the White Sox managed to eke out a run in the sixth and A.J. Pierzynski followed Carlos Quentin’s lead-off walk in the seventh with a home run to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.
Despite Wakefield’s great performance, Floyd seemed oblivious to the fact that he was in the middle of pitching duel.
“I honestly didn’t know he was pitching real well, I honestly don’t think about that stuff,” Floyd said. “I have a job to do and I just try to go out there and focus on each pitch.”
However, Pierzynski was well aware that Wakefield and his knuckler were pretty nasty on the night.
“That was the best knuckle ball I’ve seen him throw since I’ve watched him and I’ve faced him a whole bunch,” Pierzynski said. “It was just dropping. People don’t realize how hard it is to hit that, they look up and see 65 miles per hour and they don’t really realize how hard it is to hit that thing.”
Pierzynski added that the pitch he hit out of the park wasn’t a bad one, he just got some wood on it and was lucky enough to give his team the lead and eventual win. The White Sox seem to have the Red Sox number, taking 11 of the last 12 games in which they’ve faced each other.
However, it’s not the Red Sox that the South Siders are chasing, as they climbed to within a half game of second place and kept pace with the first place Detroit Tigers, remaining three games back.
Despite an 8-4 run since the All-Star break, Pierzynski knows the White Sox work is just beginning.
“We feel like we’re getting close to where we need to be as a team,” Pierzynski said. “We still aren’t 100 percent going, there’s always room for improvement. We’ve played well, but we need to continue to play well, it’s only 12 games. We’ve got (58) games left and we need to play well for those (remaining) games.”
If the White Sox continue to get pitching performances in the final 58 similar to the one Floyd gave them on Friday, that three game deficit in the standings won’t last very long.