White Sox pitching.
Starting pitching. The bullpen.
It's been written about and talked about at great lengths, even before spring training started.
And in the season-opening series against the Royals, the Sox' pitching staff was as good as advertised, maybe even better.
But after allowing just 3 earned runs in 27 innings while winning two of three from Kansas City, White Sox pitchers hit a wall in Friday night's 8-7 loss to the Mariners in 10 innings at frigid U.S. Cellular Field.
Starter Jose Quintana settled down after serving up a home run to Franklin Gutierrez leading off the game, but the left-hander fell apart in the fifth inning after committing an error while covering first base.
Seattle jumped on Quintana with 4 straight hits on as many pitches after the fielding miscue and snapped a 1-1 tie with 5 runs.
"The error changed the inning for me," Quintana said through an interpreter. "After the error, it went the wrong way for me."
Quintana couldn't even retire a batter in the fifth, but new reliever Matt Lindstrom came in and got three quick outs, and that seemed to spark the offense.
In the bottom of the fifth, Alexei Ramirez led off with a single against Seattle starter Blake Beavan and Tyler Flowers followed with a ground-rule double.
Gordon Beckham's sacrifice fly continued the rally, which was further fueled by Alejandro De Aza's 2-run homer and a two-out solo shot by Alex Rios.
"That's a good part about being able to hit home runs," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You can get back into games quick. We chipped away and got back in it. The offense didn't give up all night."
With the way the bullpen has performed in the early stages of the season, the Sox were looking very good after tying the game at 6-6 in the seventh inning on Rios' RBI groundout.
But after the bullpen ran it's season-opening scoreless inning streak to 12, Nate Jones allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in the 10th.
Jones, who was 8-0 as a rookie last season, also pitched the ninth inning.
"You are getting a little thin out there (bullpen)," Ventura said. "(Jones) has been extended before. He can go two innings. That's nothing new for Nate."
The Sox rallied back again in the bottom of the 10th but came up short when Flowers struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.
"One thing that I can say about this team and the last few years, I feel like every time, no matter what the score is, we somehow, someway grind out at-bats and give ourselves an opportunity to win it or tie it up," said Adam Dunn, who came close to hitting a game-tying home run in the final inning. "We did that tonight."