After Mark Buehrle's perfect game, which put the White Sox in a first-place tie with the Detroit Tigers, they have lost three straight games against those same Tigers to fall three games back in the American League Central.
Three straight losses which have shown the overall flaws of the White Sox bullpen.
The first game of the series was simply Justin Verlander. He pitched a complete game, giving up just one unearned run, while the White Sox offense did not strike early when they had the chance. Jose Contreras pitched well, striking out eight and walking just one. He gave up four runs, one of which was given up by Octavio Dotel, in six-and-two-thirds innings.
The second game of the series was decided by a bases-loaded walk by Matt Thornton in the bottom of the eighth inning brought on by Scott Linebrink loading the bases with one out. Another wasted start, but this time by Bartolo Colon, who went seven innings and only gave up three earned runs.
The third game of the series was lost on a blown save by Bobby Jenks, leading to D.J. Carrasco giving up three hits and the game-winning run, while recording no outs in the tenth. Another wasted start, but this time by Gavin Floyd, who pitched six-and-two-thirds innings, giving up one earned run and striking out seven.
In Octavio Dotel's last seven-and-a-third innings pitched, he has given up just three earned runs. However, he has also given up one inherited run and two unearned runs, which shows how overrated a reliever's ERA can be.
So in Dotel's last seven-and-a-third innings pitched, he has given up five runs, six hits, three walks, and two home runs. Bad numbers for a starting pitcher, worthless numbers for a bullpen pitcher.
In Scott Linebrink's last nine-and-a-third innings, accounting for his last month's worth of work, Linebrink has given up just four earned runs. That looks good on the surface, but the fact that all of those runs were created by him means he came into an inning, most likely the seventh or eighth, and gave up a run on his own.
What looks awful about his line is in this time, he has given up nine hits, four walks, and a home run. Nine hits in nine-and-a-third innings is awful for a reliever.
Another aspect that must be looked at when reading a pen's numbers is how many innings they finish. In Linebrink's last three outings, yes, he has only given up one run, but that is because each time Matt Thornton has had to come in to save him.
Yesterday, Linebrink came in, got an out, then gave up two hits and a walk and left. Six days ago, Linebrink came in, got an out, then gave up a hit and a walk and was taken out.
Eight days ago, Linebrink came in, gave up a hit and was then taken out. That is not getting the job done for a pitcher who is meant to pitch one inning. His 2.62 ERA looks good on the surface, but his performance is not.
Tony Pena, who the White Sox received in a trade by sending Brandon Allen to the Diamondbacks where he recently earned minor league player of the week hitting five home runs, has been completely worthless.
In four-and-a-third innings for the White Sox, Pena has given up six earned runs, one inherited run and two unearned runs. He has given up seven hits, including a home run, and walked one. Pena was mediocre in the National League as a bullpen pitcher, which makes him worthless in the American League.
Good trade, Kenny Williams; if you're going to trade the White Sox future to win now, then be sure the player helps the team win now. Otherwise, try to package Sox prospects and not trade them for studs like Tony Pena and 32-year-old backup catchers like Ramon Castro. Tell Jose Contreras to be a big boy and learn to pitch to players who do not speak his language.
D.J. Carrasco has been the only solid pitcher in the White Sox pen since the All-Star break. However, Carrasco had a scoreless streak of six-and-a-third innings broke yesterday by giving up the winning run on three hits without recording an out in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Tigers.
This brings us to Bobby Jenks. I recently wrote about Bobby Jenks' struggles, but since writing that article, he has added to his stankiness.
In his last six-and-two-thirds innings, he has given up eight runs, seven of which are earned, on 13 hits and four walks. He has blown his last two saves, but somehow converted three in that period.
Since the All-Star Break, the White Sox bullpen has given up 17 earned runs, three inherited runs, and one unearned run. This was all done on 33 hits, 13 walks in 21+ innings pitched.
If the White Sox want to win their division, they will have to stop giving games away.
Their first opportunity will be tonight on ESPN against the Detroit Tigers, where they will try to avoid the four-game sweep and going down four games in the division.
On a lighter note, Mark Buehrle, Dewayne Wise, and Josh Fields will be appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday. ESPN is protesting the appearance due to these players playing on the Sox of the white variety, not red.
With the president of the United States wearing White Sox apparel to the chagrin of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, and 50 cent who started the trend, and players from the team appearing on the Late Show, Sports Illustrated may want to change the cover of their November 2005 issue. Seeing as how nationally-loved the White Sox are becoming, the White Sox winning the World Series seems a bit more relevant and important than a regular season match-up between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Consider that on your to-do list, Barack.
And, no, I will never let that SI cover go.