Rienzo, White Sox drop third straight in Minnesota

Rienzo, White Sox drop third straight in Minnesota
June 21, 2014, 4:15 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Whether or not a rotation change is in the making for the White Sox isn’t certain at this point.

But what has become clear is that White Sox rookie Andre Rienzo continues to have difficulty avoiding the big inning. Rienzo struggled in the fifth inning on Saturday afternoon as the Minnesota Twins scored three times en route to a 4-3 win over the White Sox at Target Field. Rienzo gave up four earned runs and seven hits as he lost his fifth straight start for the White Sox, who need a victory Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep against the Twins.

“It just seems to be the one that ends up biting him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Hit a batter, walk a batter, they get a hit and next thing you know it’s a crooked number. That’s the stuff you’ve got to be able to stop if you’re going to end up winning. If you’re losing, that’s the stuff that happens.”

Rienzo appeared to be on another track early as he retired the first five batters he faced.

He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning with minimal damage and even though he walked in a run, Rienzo held a 2-1 lead after four.

But that all came crashing down in the fifth after Danny Salazar singled and Brian Dozier reached on a hit by pitch.

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Joe Mauer then sliced an opposite-field double that Alejandro De Aza misplayed in left to score two runs and Kendrys Morales made it 4-2 with an opposite-field RBI single.

Rienzo’s inning --- one that knocked him out of the game --- resembled a four-run second inning against the Yankees on May 25, a two-run second against San Diego on June 1, a five-run fourth by the Angels on June 6 and a three-run third by the Royals last Friday. Rienzo (4-5) has an 8.86 ERA in 22 1/3 innings over his past five starts.

“That inning hurt me,” Rienzo said. “One inning. I always have one inning.

“It happens so fast sometimes. … The first double happens with Mauer with a runner in scoring position. That’s a bad time to have that double.”

The White Sox sound as if they will discuss their options shortly, Ventura said. Ventura said he first wants to figure out how to get the White Sox back on the winning track.

One option could be going back to Scott Carroll, who has pitched well in a long relief role after struggling as a starter. Carroll delivered again on Saturday with only two hits allowed over 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

Carroll said two factors have been at play in his success -- he has been more aggressive and he has added a cut-fastball to his repertoire.

“Adding the cutter has been a big pitch,” Carroll said. “It has helped a lot with lefties. I just think I’m more aggressive in the zone.

“We incorporated it after my start in Kansas City. We came back home and started playing catch with it and it has been feeling good and it has been a big pitch for me.”

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Ventura likes how Carroll has thrown, but thinks some of his recent aggression can also be attributed to the fear of a return trip to the minors.

While Carroll still has seven walks in 19 2/3 innings as a reliever, opposing batters are hitting .224 against him since he added the cut-fastball to his repertoire.

“The big thing is he comes in and throws strikes,” Ventura said. “That’s pretty big for him to get through that for us just to save the bullpen on a day when it seemed like you were battling from behind.”

The White Sox still made a game of it.

The White Sox held a 2-0 lead after 1 1/2 innings courtesy of an RBI single by Jose Abreu and an RBI when Kevin Correia hit Gordon Beckham with a pitch with the bases loaded. But Correia got out of his second-inning jam when Conor Gillaspie grounded out.

He pitched his way out of jams in the third and fifth and stranded seven overall in six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits.

The White Sox rallied for a run in the ninth off Twins closer Glen Perkins but Abreu and Adam Dunn struck out with the tying run aboard.

Whereas Minnesota put up a big inning against Rienzo, the White Sox couldn’t match their efforts.

“You’re seeing Correia kind of do the same thing, get in the same situations, and work his way out of it,” Ventura said. “Probably a little bit cagier at being able to get himself out of it."