The American League’s Pitcher of the Month in April, Esteban Loaiza hopes he isn’t headed toward another brutal May.
Loaiza emerged as one of the biggest early season surprises in the majors last month, winning each of his first five starts while posting a minuscule 1.25 ERA.
The veteran right-hander, who had to pitch his way onto the team as a non-roster invitee, came crashing back to earth Friday. He was pounded for five runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings, walking three and striking out two in a 9-2 home loss to Seattle.
Loaiza, who opened 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his first four starts for Toronto last season before going winless in his next eight outings, went 4-1 in April 2001 before an 0-4 May.
After Friday’s loss, he was quick to dismiss the possibility of another extended funk.
“It’s behind me. That’s just one outing,” said Loaiza, who had permitted one earned run or fewer in each of his previous four starts. “My cutter, my changeups were right down the middle of the plate. They weren’t breaking. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
The White Sox lost their fourth straight and 11th in 15 games in Tuesday’s opener as Mark Mulder tossed his third consecutive complete game in a 6-0 Oakland win.
Chicago manager Jerry Manuel has come under fire for the White Sox’s slow start.
“I really don’t respond (to the criticism),” Manuel said. “The players are the ones who have to get it done. I know what I have to do inside the clubhouse. … I hit .105—I can’t hit for them.”
Erubiel Durazo had a two-run homer for the A’s, who have won three in a row and nine of 11.
Oakland has won all but three of its first 16 home games.
STANDINGS: White Sox - 3rd place, 6 GB, AL Central. Athletics - 2nd place, 1 GB, AL West.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Loaiza (5-1, 2.27 ERA). Loaiza is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 13 career appearances, including 10 starts, against Oakland. In seven outings at Network Associates Coliseum, he is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Ted Lilly (2-1, 3.29 ERA). After going unbeaten in his first five starts, Lilly absorbed his first loss of the year in a 5-3 setback to his former team, the New York Yankees, on Friday. The left-hander yielded three runs and four hits over 5 2-3 innings, striking out five and walking four. Lilly is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: White Sox - D’Angelo Jimenez, .308 avg.; Magglio Ordonez, Jose Valentin and Carlos Lee, 6 HRs; Ordonez and Lee, 19 RBIs; Lee, 16 runs; Ordonez, 3 SBs. Athletics - Hernandez, .337 avg.; Chavez, 7 HRs and 3 SBs.; Durazo, 26 RBIs and 19 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - The White Sox have been held to five or fewer hits in eight of their last 10 games. … RHP Dan Wright, activated Monday from the 15-day disabled list, will start Friday at Seattle. He began the season on the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation and made four rehabilitation starts for Triple-A Charlotte, going 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA. … Chicago is in danger of losing a season-high third straight series. Athletics - SS Miguel Tejada, the reigning AL MVP, went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, dropping his average to .176. … OF Chris Singleton has struggled against Loaiza, batting .133 (2-for-15) with one double in his career against the right-hander. … C Hernandez, the A’s leading hitter, is 0-for-13 career against Loaiza.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 5-8 on the road; Athletics - 13-3 at home.
INJURIES: White Sox - None. Athletics - OF Jermaine Dye (knee), 15-day DL.