The last thing the White Sox needed was more problems in the rotation, but once lefty ace Chris Sale was pulled Tuesday after a season-low four innings in Chicago's eventual 6-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the writing was on the wall that the first-place team in the AL Central has starting-pitching trouble.
Sale's night started out well enough with four strikeouts of the first six Orioles he faced, but with two outs in the second inning, Nate McLouth blooped a single and Sale loaded the bases by walking the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Manny Machado and Robert Andino.
Nick Markakis made it hurt, clearing the bases with a double to deep center over a running Dewayne Wise. By the time the fourth ended, Sale had allowed four runs on six hits, walking three and fanning five. He threw just 75 pitches.
Sale has been on a close innings watch the last few months, so once manager Robin Ventura saw the downward trend after four innings, the decision was made to go with Philip Humber out of the bullpen. After the loss, Ventura labeled the move as saving bullets for Sale down the stretch.
However, the jabs to the staff didn't stop with their best pitcher falling on his face. Earlier in the day, the Sox announced that right-hander Gavin Floyd was placed on the disabled list due to a right elbow flexor strain.
Jake Peavy was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, but the Sox made the decision to call up Dylan Axelrod and start him against the Orioles, pushing Peavy back to Friday, when the Sox open a huge showdown with the second-place Tigers in Detroit.
Good decision, as Ventura admitted before the game that Peavy wouldn't have been able to pitch Wednesday even if the Sox needed him to.
Peavy was treated at a local hospital in Baltimore on Tuesday, battling an eye infection.
"(Peavy) can't see too well out of it," Ventura said. "It's his right eye. It's just very red, and it doesn't look good. He has a couple of days to get it fixed. I know he wouldn't be able to pitch (Wednesday), anyway. So we're lucky."
As for Axelrod, the righty has already pitched well in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park this season (allowing three runs in 13 2/3 innings combined), so he has shown that the big stage doesn't overwhelm him.
"The game's on the line," Axelrod said. "(Camden Yards) is an historic park as well, and the Orioles are good this year. I'm just blessed that the White Sox have faith in me and continue to call on me."