Mike Pelfrey falters again as three Angels homers bury White Sox

Mike Pelfrey falters again as three Angels homers bury White Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rick Renteria didn’t shy away from the blame for Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

The White Sox manager could see that his starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, had begun to wear down in the fifth inning. Ahead by three runs, Renteria had the pieces in place to make a move to try and keep his team in the lead. But instead of listening to his instincts, Renteria went with his heart and stayed with Pelfrey.

Six pitches later, the lead had vanished. Fifth-inning home runs by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout off Pelfrey gave the Angels everything they needed to send the White Sox to a 5-3 loss in front of 29,445 at Angel Stadium. The White Sox, who opened a 10-game road trip at Anaheim, have lost seven of their last nine games.

“I thought Pelf gave us a nice four-plus innings,” Renteria said. “Really, he gave us enough to do what we needed to do. I had those guys out there ready to pick him up, and I didn’t. I went against my better judgment. We had (Dan Jennings) ready for Calhoun, and we had our righty ready. So that’s not any of their faults but mine. At least it would have given us a better chance. I couldn’t guarantee that the outcome would have been what we wanted, but I think the matchups would have been better, and pretty much that’s it.”

Most of Pelfrey’s starts have gone exactly the same way. He looks outstanding through his first three or four innings before he struggles in the middle. Pelfrey entered Monday’s start with a .200 average against in his first two trips the lineup (13-for-65).

Pelfrey followed that format to a T on Monday as he retired the side in order in the first, third and fourth innings. He allowed a pair of runners with one out in the second inning but pitched out of the jam.

Pelfrey’s strong start allowed the White Sox a chance to get ahead by three runs. Jose Abreu blasted a two-run homer in the fourth inning, and Tyler Saladino tripled in a run in the fifth.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

But Pelfrey couldn’t sustain. He said a series of full counts earlier in the game (Pelfrey threw 74 pitches through four innings) finally caught up to him in the fifth. Pelfrey issued one-out walks to Cam Maybin and Danny Espinosa. Martin Maldonado followed with a deep drive to left, but Melky Cabrera tracked it down for the second out.

With Jennings warm in the bullpen, Renteria opted to leave Pelfrey in to face Calhoun, who was 0-for-2. Calhoun ripped a 1-0 fastball out to right for a game-tying, three-run shot. Four pitches later, Trout hammered a 1-2 changeup to put Los Angeles ahead.

Batters facing Pelfrey the third time through the lineup are now 9-for-12 this season.

“You want to get that guy through it,” Renteria said. “All season long we've done the opposite, not worried about the individual, more worried about the team. Bottom line today is I went against the team concept and did something for the player. And it bit us in the butt. These guys have been playing very, very hard. There is no way to clean that up, no way to make an excuse. None whatsoever. Everybody should be extremely upset. I'm upset. Tomorrow is another day.”

Pelfrey wasn’t pleased with himself, either.

He took no solace in the fact he kept the Angels in check for four innings. He exited after the Trout homer having allowed four earned runs, three hits and walking three in 4.2 innings.

Neither Pelfrey nor rookie Dylan Covey has completed six innings in a start this season. It’s one reason the White Sox promoted reliever Gregory Infante on Monday, to help with the workload. Infante pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. The team could carry an eight-man bullpen into the foreseeable future, Renteria said.

“Pretty frustrated,” Pelfrey said. “Pretty disappointed. Pretty tough to swallow after getting the 3-0 lead and giving it right back. It sucks. It sucks.

“I thought I was 3-2 on everybody and a lot of pitches and killed the bullpen again, which sucks. You can’t get deep in the game when you’re 3-2 on everybody. Pitches rack up pretty fast. Pretty crappy all the way and disappointing. I really don’t know what to say.”

Preview: White Sox-Twins today on CSN

6-22_sox_twins_preview.jpg

Preview: White Sox-Twins today on CSN

The White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins today, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (3-8, 5.07 ERA) vs. Nik Turley (0-1, 12.46 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

Jose Berrios gave the Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now

Jose Berrios gave the Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now

MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios gave the Minnesota Twins exactly what the White Sox could use most right now on Wednesday night: a deep, dominant outing.

The young Twins pitcher overcame a slow start to deliver eight sharp innings as the struggling White Sox fell 4-2 in front of 33,316 at Target Field. Starter David Holmberg lasted only 3 1/3 innings for the White Sox, losers of three straight. It was the 23rd time in 28 games a White Sox starter has failed to deliver a quality start.

“These guys are trying to give us length,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It just hasn’t happened. I get it. I don’t anticipate that’s what’s going to continue to happen as we move forward. I don’t think anybody could sustain over a long haul using your starters for three or four innings. It’s impossible. You would wear out your arms in the pen. Today we were fortunate in that we just used two guys for quite a few innings and outs. … They did a very nice job. That type of work is unsustainable.”  

There are many reasons why the White Sox rotation has struggled through the first 70 games of the season. Injuries to four starters is the most significant factor, the biggest being to Carlos Rodon. The White Sox were hopeful their third-year starter would step into the rotation and deliver 33 starts and 200 innings. But Rodon is only now nearing a potential return to the majors and his first start of the season after he went on the disabled list in March with bursitis in his left shoulder. James Shields, Miguel Gonzalez and Dylan Covey, who originally replaced Rodon, have also been placed on the DL.

While replacements Mike Pelfrey and Holmberg have pitched well enough, neither starter has gone deep into games. The pair is averaging 5 1/3 innings in 16 starts with two six-inning performances by Pelfrey marking the longest efforts to date.

Combine those figures with the inconsistent performances of Derek Holland and Jose Quintana and you have a White Sox bullpen working overtime.

Holmberg limited the Twins to a run through the first two innings. But a combination of hard-hit balls — four straight registered at 95 mph or better to start the inning — and shoddy defense helped Minnesota pull ahead for good in the third.

Miguel Sano blasted a game-tying solo shot, Max Kepler singled in a run and Ehire Adrianza’s fielder’s choice brought in another as the Twins made it 4-2. Mixed in was a Tim Anderson error, a liner that Jose Abreu didn’t catch and a bobbled turn of a potential inning-ending double play by Anderson.

Holmberg recorded only 10 outs before he gave way to Gregory Infante and Michael Ynoa, who pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“Feel like I got behind a couple guys, had to make a pitch a few times,” Holmberg said. “Labored through some innings. I would have like to get some quick outs and gone a little deeper into the game.

“Ultimately it’s up to Ricky. He’s going to do what’s best for the team. But that goes hand in hand with performance. We get some quick outs, quicker through the order, that’ll tie in.”

The White Sox scored in the first and third innings against Berrios before he began to find a rhythm. In the first, Avisail Garcia singled in Alen Hanson, who led off the game with a walk, to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then in the third, Melky Cabrera grounded into a double play to score Adam Engel, who started the inning with a double.

[Vivid Seats: Buy your White Sox tickets here]

But that was all the White Sox would get against Berrios, who has allowed 34 hits in 54 innings this season. Berrios retired 14 of 15 hitters after Hanson singled in the third inning. The only man to reach was Garcia on an error in the fourth inning.

Berrios didn’t allow another hit until Omar Narvaez singled to start the eighth inning. He allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts and one walk.

It was a performance of which the White Sox are desperately in need. Through 70 games, the team’s rotation has also only had a pitcher go at least seven innings eight times. Jose Quintana was the last to do so on Friday. Before that it was Gonzalez on May 28. Over their last 28 games, White Sox starters are averaging a tick over 4 2/3 innings.  

Renteria is confident the trend will turn. Quintana starts on Thursday and has been good in two of his last three outings. Shields just returned from the DL and Rodon is right around the corner, if he stays on track. But Renteria also knows his bullpen can’t keep this up and hope to remain effective.

“It’s not sustainable,” Renteria said. “It just isn’t.”