He struggled early and he struggled late. In between, he appeared invincible.
And while Floyd was impressive when he was retiring batter after batter during that in-between part, where he especially marveled during Friday’s 5-0 win over the Kansas City Royals was those early and late innings where he wasn’t exactly perfect.
The first sign Floyd wasn’t in full command Friday came in the second inning. He began the inning by walking Eric Hosmer on five pitches. After retiring a batter, Floyd gave up a single to Mike Moustakas and then walked Chris Getz.
Like that, Floyd was on the verge of a horrific evening. A few more similar pitches, and the Royals could have easily found themselves in a comfortable spot.
Floyd didn’t panic. He still trusted what he was throwing. He delivered back-to-back cutters to Alcides Escobar, and the second one was hit right back to Floyd. He fielded the ball and threw it home for the second out.
Floyd went back to his cutter on the first pitch to Humerto Quintero, and he bit, too. Quintero knocked the ball off the ground and toward the mound. Floyd leaped, reached his left-handed glove over his right shoulder while he was floating to his right and snatched the ball. Floyd landed and delivered the ball to first base for the out.
“Especially early on, that’s the last thing you want to do, but it’s going to happen,” Floyd said of the second inning. “You just focus on the simple things. You know if you make pitches hopefully you’ll get guys out. Hopefully, try to do that, and I got out of it.”
Just as the inning could have destroyed Floyd, it ended up making him. He was in complete control for the next five innings, retiring 15 of the next 16 hitters he faced.
The eighth inning was a different story. Floyd’s fatigue began to show quickly as he allowed Escobar to single to center field to kick off the inning. After retiring the second hitter, Floyd gave up back-to-back singles to Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon.
And again, Floyd was facing a bases loaded situation with one out. The White Sox held a 5-0 lead, so there was room for error. Like the last time, Floyd buckled down again. He struck out Billy Butler for the second out. Floyd would have been up to facing another hitter, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura opted for reliever Matt Thornton, who struck out Hosmer to end the inning.
Floyd allowed five hits and no runs, walked two and struck out five in 7 2/3 innings.
“I don’t think he’s predictable,” Ventura said. “I think he has great command, getting ahead and using all his pitches, but he’s not predictable. When you have that kind of command, you become more difficult. Guys can’t sit on just one pitch he’s throwing.”
Friday’s performance wasn’t the smoothest of Floyd’s in the past month, but his pitching line was similar to his recent starts. For the fourth consecutive outing and fifth time this season, Floyd allowed two or fewer runs. In his last 28 2/3 innings, he’s given up a total of four runs. His ERA dropped to 2.53 and he improved to 3-3 on the season.
“You know what I just take one pitch at a time,” Floyd said. “I’m really honestly trying to be aggressive with whatever I’m throwing and trying to let the team field the ball. That’s about it. I’m trying to simplify things and go out and attack guys.”