CLEVELAND – Phil Humber will get the honor of the final start of the White Sox season, which will complete his breakthrough year.
He might not be rolling like he once was, but the right-hander will still be able to hold his head up high. Like his 2011 season, Humber had a roller-coaster ride Thursday against the Cleveland Indians, giving up back-to-back home runs to start the game, retiring 14 consecutive batters and then getting hit hard again.
When it was over, Humber gave up a season-high seven earned runs on eight hits over six innings. His record fell to 9-9, but his ERA still remains low at 3.86.
“I think he pitched good, in general,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I don’t think that many guys here will have ERAs less than 4.00. When you have an ERA less than 4.00, that’s a pretty good year. He got hit in the head and came back to pitch. We cannot complain about the job that kid did.”
The right-hander was 8-5 with a 3.52 ERA in the first half, but 1-3 with a 5.51 ERA in the second half. Over his last 10 starts he was 1-5 with a 6.15 ERA.
“I have that last day so I’d like to be driving home with a smile on my face,” Humber said. “But either way it’s been a great year and I’m definitely thankful for what’s happened this year and the opportunities I’ve had. I want to finish strong but I’m doing all I can, working hard and I have to roll with the punches I guess.”
Humber has thrown 156 innings this season, the most he’s delivered as a professional.
“Earlier in the year it was kind of a dream,” he said. “I didn’t even know how many starts I would get. I didn’t know form one start to the next whether I would be in there or not. I was probably a lot more relaxed than I am right now. Like I said, probably the biggest lesson I learned in the second half is just relax because I feel like the last couple of games I’ve been pressing a little bit.”
No matter what happens in Wednesday’s afternoon season finale at U.S. Cellular Field, Humber has put himself solidly in the White Sox’s 2012 rotation plans. He remains under club control so the White Sox will determine his salary. He made $500,000 this season.