If the Chicago White Sox have any hope of contending this season, they’ll need better efforts from their bullpen.
To give its beleaguered bullpen a break, Chicago will look for a long outing by rookie starter John Danks and a series split when it closes out a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
The White Sox (25-26) received a serviceable outing by starter Jose Contreras on Saturday, but the bullpen couldn’t put the game away as Mike MacDougal, Matt Thornton and David Aardsma combined to allow six runs, seven hits and a walk in the final 1 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss.
“We don’t have the luxury to lose a game like that,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “If you lose games like this, you’re going to have a lot of trouble late in the season. We have to do something about it and see what we can come up with.”
MacDougal, who took the loss, has given up 18 runs - 14 earned - in 17 2-3 innings this season for a 7.13 ERA. Aardsma was tagged for a season-high five runs in the eighth, raising his ERA nearly 1 1/2 runs to 6.18. White Sox relievers have blown 10 of 26 save opportunities while posting a 5.49 ERA in 2007.
Guillen said he would talk to general manager Kenny Williams and a move would likely come Monday when the White Sox return to Chicago to open a series against the New York Yankees.
“The bullpen is lucky they’re in Toronto,” Guillen said. “If we were in Chicago, I guarantee people would be out.”
Danks (3-5, 4.59 ERA) will make his first career start against Toronto (26-29), and his second against an AL East foe. His three-start win streak ended Tuesday when he allowed career highs of six runs and four walks in just 3 1-3 innings of a 9-2 loss in Minnesota.
“From the beginning, he had trouble getting the ball over the plate,” Guillen told the White Sox’s official Web site. “Most of his pitches were up, and that’s why he got hit hard. He didn’t have (control) today, but that’s the first time since he’s been here that he’s thrown the ball that poorly.”
In his only other start against an AL East team, Danks defeated the Yankees at home on May 16. The left-hander is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in five road starts.
After beginning the season in the bullpen, Shaun Marcum (2-2, 3.70) will try to continue his stellar work as a starter at home for Toronto.
Marcum, who took Victor Zambrano’s spot in the rotation after he was placed on the disabled list with a strained forearm on May 10, is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and opponents are hitting just .146 against him in four starts. Marcum, though, has saved his best pitching for when he’s at home—facing Tampa Bay and the Yankees at Rogers Centre, the right-hander has allowed two hits, walked six and struck out 13 over 12 innings but failed to get a decision either time.
Marcum has never faced the White Sox.
Aaron Hill and Alex Rios each had two hits and three RBIs for Toronto in Saturday’s win. One of Rios’ hits was his team-leading 13th homer, and both he and Hill are tied for the team lead with 32 RBIs.