By Paul LaTour
Its not about being perfect for Philip Humber. Not anymore.
The White Sox right-hander just needed a quality start, considering his ERA was 13.50 in his three starts since throwing his perfect game April 21 at Seattle.
A quality start is just what Humber delivered Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field in the series-finale against the Kansas City Royals. If only the Sox could have capitalized on it.
Instead, the Sox bullpen faltered and their bats failed in a 9-1 loss.
Phil came out and pitched great, manager Robin Ventura said. On one hand, its a positive the way Phil threw. On the other hand, we let it get away from us.
The Royals put runners on base in the first five innings against Humber, but couldnt get the timely hit. They stranded two runners in each of the first and fifth innings.
Chris Getz hit a one-out single in the first, and moved to second on a two-out walk to Billy Butler. Jeff Francoeur grounded to third as Humber escaped the early threat.
In the fifth with two runners on, Humber got Chris Getz on a groundout and then struck out Alex Gordon to maintain a1-0 lead for Chicago.
It wasnt until the sixth Humber was able to retire the Royals in order, striking out Butler and Francoeur before Eric Hosmer grounded softly to Adam Dunn at first.
It was just me going out there and competing and having fun doing what I know how to do, Humber said. I wanted to give the team a chance to win. We had the opportunity there and we couldnt get it done today.
Humber pitched into the seventh, but left with two outs and a runner on first. That runner ended up scoring on Johnny Giavotelllas two-run double against Matt Thornton. The White Sox bullpen combined to surrender eight runs on six hits.
Humber finished with 101 pitches, throwing 67 for strikes. He gave up some long fly-ball outs, but didnt allow an extra-base hit. Yet, he still couldnt come up with his first home victory since since June 12, 2011.
I dont know if he was as sharp as you saw him either in spring training or obviously in Seattle, but he was able to find it, he gained control of it, spotted it and threw all his pitches, Ventura said.
The past three weeks have been eventful for Humber, who admitted the spotlight following the perfect game became distracting. Then on May 1 he became a father for the first time with the birth of his son.
If something like (the perfect game) ever happens again, Ill know better how to deal with it, he said. Its not just that, its having a new baby and stuff like that. There were a lot of different things that maybe try to take away from your focus. But this is our job. Youve got to come in ready to go every time. I just want to go out there and do my best.
Humber did that Sunday. Not many of this teammates followed his lead.