CHICAGO – White Sox relievers had been automatic this season.
Sox relievers were used sparingly during their opening series against the Royals, but came through when needed. They can thank starting pitchers Chris Sale, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd, all of whom recorded a quality start, for the light workload.
Long reliever Hector Santiago entered Friday’s game against the Mariners as the only reliever to pitch more than one inning, but even that wasn’t a stressful three innings for the left-hander, who has the stamina to start.
The bullpen was needed early Friday, however. Starter Jose Quintana could only make it through four innings and left disaster in his wake. Seattle’s first seven batters reached base in the fifth, aided by a Quintana fielding error, and the Mariners cashed in during the five-run inning.
Although the Sox rallied to tie the game twice, the Mariners finally scored off the bullpen, scoring two in the 10th to hand the South Siders an 8-7 loss. Seattle’s two runs in the ninth snapped the bullpen’s 12 2/3 innings scoreless streak to start the seasons.
Right-hander Matt Lindstrom, an offseason free agent signing, appeared in his second game of the season and didn’t allow a hit or walk in 2 1/3 innings while striking out two. Lindstrom matched his career high in innings pitched in a single outing, and his effectiveness allowed the Sox (2-2) to rally for four runs in the fourth. They eventually tied the game in the seventh.
“I’m not afraid to use [Lindstrom] at any point from the sixth on,” Ventura said. “It just kind of depends on the situation you’re in and who’s in there.”
Hard-throwing Nate Jones took the loss, his 97 mph fastball not enough to hold off the Mariners (3-2). Ventura opted to use Jones for two innings, keeping him in to start the 10th after retiring the Mariners in order the previous inning, highlighted by two strikeouts.
Jones found himself in trouble immediately after allowing a single to the leadoff hitter, Franklin Gutierrez. Michael Saunders’ sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position and Kendrys Morales capitalized on the next pitch for a RBI double. Jesus Montero added an insurance run with a two-out single that ultimately proved to be the game-winning run.
Ventura could have turned to lefty Matt Thornton, who had been warming up earlier in the game, or closer Addison Reed. But Ventura, worried about a bullpen that was quickly running out of arms – four of his best relievers had already been used – decided to stick with Jones for an extra inning. Reed had been used twice in the first three games, both of which were save opportunities that he converted.
“You’re getting a little thing out there; we used Hector [Thursday],” Ventura said. “[Jones] has been extended before, so he can go two innings. That’s nothing new for Nate.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at email@example.com. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.