The Chicago White Sox’s slim playoff hopes suffered two more costly blows in the first two games of their series with the Seattle Mariners. To get a desperately needed victory Saturday, the White Sox will need a much better effort from their pitching staff when the teams meet at U.S. Cellular Field.
The sinking White Sox (85-69) lost for the seventh time in eight games Friday, 11-6 to the Mariners. Chicago’s pitchers gave up 16 hits, and starter Jose Contreras allowed six runs before departing after 1 2-3 innings due to a strained right hamstring.
The White Sox rallied to cut a five-run deficit to one in the fifth, but the bullpen gave up another four runs over the final four innings.
“Obviously we have a shot and we gave it away with those two or three runs late in the game,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of his relievers, who have a 7.02 ERA this month. “It’s real bad. I don’t want to go back to the mound. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. … We have to get better.”
That performance followed a 9-0 loss to Seattle (75-59) in Thursday’s opener. The White Sox have all but run out of time, trailing wild card-leading Minnesota by 5 1/2 games with eight remaining.
“I’m not looking at the scoreboard anymore,” Guillen said.
The defending World Series champions face the Twins in three games at the Metrodome to close the season, but for those to matter, Chicago has to pull closer to Minnesota very quickly.
The White Sox will turn to Mark Buehrle (12-13, 4.79 ERA) as they try to begin doing that Saturday. The left-hander is 0-2 in his last three starts with a 5.61 ERA, allowing 28 hits in 17 2-3 innings.
Buehrle is 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 appearances—11 starts—against the Mariners, and 5-1 with a 1.68 ERA in seven appearances against them at U.S. Cellular Field. The left-hander, however, has given up a career-high 34 homers this season.
Three of them came in his last start, an 8-2 defeat to AL Central-leading Detroit in which he pitched seven innings and gave up four runs and 10 hits.
The Mariners will counter with Felix Hernandez (11-14, 4.68), who will be making his final appearance of the season. The 19-year-old rookie has had two of his starts skipped this month to keep him at 200 innings, including spring training, this year.
The right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings of an 8-1 loss to Texas on Monday. He tied a season high with nine strikeouts and walked two.
“He’s progressing. (I’m) very satisfied,” Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said. “I’m not shocked, he’s got that ability. … Sure, everyone would have liked to have him blow everyone away, but he’s done a good job.”
Hernandez is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the White Sox.