With or without manager Ozzie Guillen, the Chicago White Sox are reeling. When they pitch well -- as Phil Humber did again Saturday night -- they have trouble handling the ball and getting the big hit.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another and now their early season rut has made history of sorts. A 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night left the White Sox with a 10-18 mark in April --the most losses in franchise history for the opening month.
"The league is not going to be feeling sorry for us or wait for us or nothing. We are going to have to play and play through it and start winning some ball games,” acting manager Joey Cora said.
Chicago lost for the 14th time in 17 games and second straight under Cora. Cora filled in again as Guillen completed a two-game suspension for remarks he made about an umpire on Twitter after he ejected from a game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Humber, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his previous start against the Yankees, allowed only two runs and three hits in seven innings.
One of those hits was a homer to No. 9 batter Robert Andino and another run scored on a wild pitch that eluded catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who had trouble behind the plate.
"Our job is to go out there and go deep in the ball game and keep us close and give our offense a chance," Humber said. "Right now we’re not scoring a whole lot of runs, but I think that is going to turn around, I really do. I’ve got all the faith in the world in these guys. … Hopefully it turns around for us pretty quick."
Andino led off the third with his first homer of the season—and seventh in parts of seven major league seasons—to put Baltimore up 2-0. The Orioles took an early lead when Brian Roberts doubled to lead off the game, went to third on a fly ball and scored on Humber’s wild pitch, a low delivery that eluded Pierzynski.
"I wish I could take one pitch back, the one to Andino," Humber said. “Other than that pitch and not being there to cover home in the first inning that kinda of bit us there. Other than that I threw the ball pretty well."
Chicago had the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth but scored just one run on a sacrifice fly as reliever Mike Gonzalez struck out Adam Dunn and Pierzynski.
Andino also snuffed out a Chicago rally in the fourth when the White Sox had first and second and no outs. He made a diving stop on Alex Rios’ grounder behind the bag and started a double play with a nice flip to Roberts.
"It seems like we’re one hit away, one play away in some of these games and that’s how it is early in a season sometimes," said Paul Konerko, adding that the White Sox also started slowly last season. Then they went on a 26-5 tear.
Leading 2-1, the Orioles tacked on four runs in the eighth, an inning featuring a passed ball and error on Chicago catcher Pierzynski, some daring baserunning by Andino and a two-run single by Vladimir Guerrero.
Andino singled in the eighth off Matt Thornton and stole second. When Roberts struck out, the ball got by Pierzynski, who retrieved it and threw low to Dunn at first. Dunn caught the one-hop throw but his relay to the plate was too late to get Andino, who scored all the way from second.
"Usually A.J. is very good at that," Cora said. "Once in a while it’s going to happen. It just happened. We had a tough time today."
Nick Markakis followed with a single and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases before Guerrero delivered a two-run single past third. Luke Scott’s sacrifice fly made it 6-1 and the struggling Thornton—who was supposed to be the closer before blowing four early save chances—was booed as he left the mound.
Rios hit his first homer of the season in the ninth to make it 6-2.