Tony Gwynn: Early season surprises
Garland hopes to correct some of his problems Tuesday night for the White Sox when they continue a three-game series against the struggling Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
After Garland went 18-10 with a 3.50 ERA last season, the White Sox (8-5) rewarded him with a three-year, $29 million deal through 2008.
The 26-year-old right-hander has been hit hard in his first two outings this season, posting a bloated 13.94 ERA.
He was tagged for nine runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings in an 11-7 loss at Kansas City on April 7. Garland earned a victory his last time out despite surrendering seven runs and a career high-tying 13 hits in a 13-9 victory at Detroit last Thursday.
“Stuff-wise, it feels like I’m there,” Garland said. “I don’t know if every hitter in the league is just really good or my location is that bad.”
This will be Garland’s first start of 2006 at home, where he began 7-0 last season. He finished 10-6 with a 3.56 ERA over 16 home starts.
Garland is 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA at home against the Royals (2-10) in 13 career appearances, including 11 starts.
Kansas City starter Jeremy Affeldt has had similar results to Garland this season, going 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA through two outings.
Affeldt was tagged for six runs and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings in a 12-5 loss at the New York Yankees last Wednesday. He was dropped out of the rotation before being reinserted when Denny Bautista was placed on the injured list Sunday.
The first inning has been a big problem for the left-hander, who allowed five runs in the opening frame against Chicago on April 7 and walked his first two batters before giving up a three-run homer to Gary Sheffield last week after the Royals had staked him to a 3-0 lead.
“That’s not very good,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “It’s hard to elaborate on that, other than to say it’s hard to win doing that for a lot of different reasons. You’re in the field a long time, you’re giving them opportunities. You know going in that they make you throw strikes.”
Affeldt is 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field in five career appearances, including two starts.
Royals starters are 0-7 with a 6.94 ERA this season.
Chicago evened the season series with Kansas City at two games apiece by opening this set with a 9-0 victory on Monday. Jose Contreras and two relievers combined on a one-hitter to send the Royals to their eighth straight loss.
“It was one of those games where you almost feel you should have seen a no-hitter. He had that kind of stuff,” first baseman Paul Konerko said. “He was coming right at them.”
Konerko homered and drove in four runs to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He’s batting .538 (14-for-26) with 13 RBIs during his hitting streak and has homered four times over his last four games.
Kansas City leadoff hitter David DeJesus went 0-for-4 and is batting .174 for the year.