Scott Carroll got his first real taste of adversity at the major league level and struggled to overcome it.
The Cubs jumped on Carroll over four rough innings, with the right-hander allowing six runs on 11 hits as the White Sox lost, 12-5, to the Cubs in front of 26,332 at U.S. Cellular Field Thursday night.
Carroll's bread-and-butter sinker didn't have as much sink on it in his two previous starts, in which he allowed one earned run over 13 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old attributed that to flying open during his delivery and not staying on top of the ball well enough.
"It was just a situation where I didn't have my best stuff tonight," Carroll said. "I left a few pitches up when I obviously don't have the ability to do so. I was kind of just fighting it the whole time. But you know what, I just gotta tip my hat to them, they made some good at-bats against me. Just gotta get back to work, correct some things and get back to work tomorrow."
The Cubs struck quickly the second time through the order, batting around in the third and scoring four runs. Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer put the Cubs ahead for good, and Carroll walked Junior Lake with the bases loaded later in the frame to bring in another run.
Starlin Castro followed in the fourth with a two-run homer, and Carroll was eventually knocked out of the game in the fifth after giving up hit No. 11. Without an effective sinker, Carroll was in for a long night even against an offense that looked listless in the first three Crosstown games.
"He just couldn’t control it tonight," manager Robin Ventura said. "And any time he got it over the plate they seemed to hit it hard. That’s not a good combination.”
Catcher Tyler Flowers talked before the game about how he'd get a better indication of what kind of pitcher Carroll is when he has to handle adversity, and while the results weren't good Flowers did say he was impressed with Carroll's demeanor as things began to go wrong Thursday night.
"He showed the composure and what he’s demonstrated so far in good outings, he still continued that even though he wasn’t the sharpest he’s been," Flowers said. "I think that’s a good sign of remaining confident, professionalism, all those kinds of things, where he wasn’t letting it get to him, he was just trying to focus on the next pitch and do the best he can."
The White Sox pitching woes didn't end with Carroll, though. After Scott Downs threw two shutout innings, Maikel Cleto hit Welington Castillo with the bases loaded and served up a grand slam to Mike Olt in a five-run eighth, putting the game out of reach and ending a streak of 23 1/3 scoreless innings from the White Sox bullpen.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak, too, the longest of the season to date for the White Sox.
"Before (Thursday), we played good ball," Flowers said. "Today we just kinda got our butts kicked."