TORONTO — Robin Ventura and Don Cooper have more tough decisions ahead in regard to the White Sox bullpen.
The manager said he and his pitching coach have to determine how to reorganize the team’s late-innings roles after closer Ronald Belisario struggled again Friday night in a 5-4 White Sox victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Belisario allowed a pair of runs and needed help from Eric Surkamp and Jacob Petricka — who earned his second save — to avoid a blown save opportunity.
Belisario entered Friday’s game with eight saves in 12 tries this season, having blown three opportunities since he took over as closer from Matt Lindstrom last month.
“It was a thriller,” Ventura said. “It’s always tough. The last inning is always the toughest, and any time you get guys on. Fortunately for us in the end there, Surkamp made a good pitch, and we didn’t make a play on it, and Jacob came in and did a great job. That’s the good news. There will probably be some mixing up of opportunities and jobs and we’ll go from there.”
Belisario, who allowed a walk-off homer in Monday’s loss in Baltimore, entered Friday’s game with a three-run lead against the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. Pinch hitter Colby Rasmus cut it to 5-3 when he launched a solo home run over the fence in left-center to wakeup the Rogers Centre crowd.
Ventura made a quick trip to the mound to chat with Belisario but kept him in game in favor of a quick hook.
“I didn’t want him becoming nervous to the point he’s not going to throw strikes,” Ventura said. “There was more support in that then there was anything else.”
But Ventura’s backing may have waned as the inning progressed and Belisario gave up a pair of one-out singles to bring the tying run aboard.
"He’s still going to pitch for us,” Ventura said. “He’s still a good pitcher, but from here on out we’ll see where he is in doing that.”
Surkamp entered and got a grounder but Conor Gillaspie booted it to load the bases.
Petricka took over and one run scored on Jose Reyes’ fielder’s choice, but the rookie also got Melky Cabrera to preserve the team's second win in nine games on the trip. The bullpen has suffered four losses so far on the trip.
“Right now, we don’t have our closer,” Ventura said. “(Petricka is) used to (close situations). That doesn’t mean he’s going to be the one tomorrow, but he’s a back-end guy, whether it’s the ninth or a crucial seventh or eighth. He’s always come in in some volatile situations.”
Ventura will select from a pool of candidates that includes Petricka, Zach Putnam, Javy Guerra — a former closer with the Dodgers — and Daniel Webb. It’s the second career save for Petricka, who also rescued the White Sox in the May 19 contest in which Lindstrom got injured.
The rookie said his hockey background helps him in high-pressure situations.
"When the rink really gets going, you become part of it and it feeds the adrenaline to play," Petricka said. "It's the same game; got to throw strikes. If it's not a strike, they're probably not gonna swing at it, so it makes it a lot tougher on yourself."