DENVER — The walks have piled up over the first seven games this season for the White Sox.
On Monday, Felipe Paulino walked four more batters at one of the places where it isn’t in a pitcher’s best interest to give away bases.
The Colorado Rockies made sure Paulino and the White Sox paid for those free passes in an 8-1 interleague victory at Coors Field in front of 22,550. White Sox pitchers issued five bases on balls and have yielded 31 through their first seven games. The team’s walk total ranks 29th among 30 clubs.
The costliest base on balls Monday came with two outs in the second inning as D.J. LeMahieu walked in front of Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles, whose RBI double off Paulino gave Colorado an early two-run lead.
“They’re starting to come at inopportune times,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You walk the eight-hole guy to get to the pitcher and he ends up knocking you around. We just need to be a lot sharper than that.”
Paulino wasn’t very sharp at all.
Only three batters into the game he was already trailing when Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez hit a line drive solo home run to right. After the first of three hits by Lyles made it 2-0, Michael Cuddyer continued to make Paulino pay in the third after he drew a leadoff walk.
Troy Tulowitzki, who walked in the first, Justin Morneau and Wilin Rosario all singled and the Rockies extended their lead to 3-0.
Paulino’s pitch count quickly climbed as he fell behind hitters. He threw first-pitch strikes to only 14 of the 26 batters he faced.
After four innings he had thrown 85 pitches and the Rockies took advantage in the fifth. Tulowitzki, who later homered off Daniel Webb, doubled and Rosario walked. Nolan Arenado then singled to load the bases and LeMahieu singled in a run to make it 4-0 to end Paulino’s night. The Rockies scored twice more with Webb on the mound to take a six-run lead.
Over 4 1/3 innings, Paulino allowed six runs and nine hits while issuing four walks. Webb, who issued the team’s fifth walk, allowed a run over 1 2/3 innings.
“The problem was getting ahead,” Paulino said. “We have to figure out how to get guys out when we’re ahead in the count. That’s my goal right now. Coop and me, we have a lot of work to do. That’s what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. I believe in myself. I believe I’ll be OK. They beat me today. That’s all.”
Less than a year removed from shoulder surgery and less than two years after he had reconstructive elbow surgery, Paulino isn’t down on himself. He has seen that the stuff he had before Tommy John has returned and he has been healthy. Ventura also believes Paulino can improve but that improvement needs to come quickly.
“He knows he can be better than that,” Ventura said. “As far as him falling behind and getting some whacks at him, it just has to be better. You got jump ahead in the count and put people away.”
Paulino, who has issued six walks in 9 2/3 innings, isn’t the only pitcher experiencing issues. Entering Monday, only six teams had walked more batters than the White Sox, who had 26. The team’s strikeout to walk ratio currently stands at 53:31 in 62 innings pitched.
Lyles only issued two walks over 6 2/3 innings and limited the White Sox to a single run when Alexei Ramirez doubled in the seventh inning.
“It was not a good game for me,” Paulino said. “I throw a lot of pitches. I get ahead in count, but I don’t finish up. I have to figure out how to finish those hitters. It’s unsettling for me.”