The White Sox' offense got after it again Saturday.
Staring at a 3-0 deficit before even coming to the plate at U.S. Cellular Field, the Sox jumped all over Indians ace Justin Masterson with 4 runs in the bottom of the first inning. And yes, that's the same Masterson that was 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA against the White Sox last season.
Through the first dozen games of the season, nothing has seemed to slow the Sox' offense, which leads the major leagues with 76 runs scored. And yes, that's the same offense that finished last in the American League with 598 runs in 2013.
But there is one hurdle the White Sox' offense has not been able to consistently clear this season -- the pitching staff.
For as good as Sox hitters have been through the first two weeks of the season, Sox pitchers have been equally bad.
In Saturday's eventual 12-6 loss to Cleveland, starter Felipe Paulino delivered another dud, and Ronald Belisario (15.19 ERA), Scott Downs (16.20 ERA) and Donnie Veal (9.00) were once again brutal out of the bullpen.
The White Sox have the highest team ERA (5.86 ERA) in the AL.
Let's start with the starter.
"Well, first, I feel like my game plan is not on my side right now," Paulino said after allowing 6 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings. "I've been fighting a lot executing my pitches the last couple of games. But I missed a lot of spots there right now. My slider comes and goes sometimes, but I'm looking for consistency."
As long as Paulino (7.98 ERA) remains in the White Sox' rotation, White Sox manager Robin Ventura wants him to go deeper into games. The right-hander, who missed almost all of the last two major-league seasons after having Tommy John surgery, has worked a combined 14⅔ innings in his first 3 starts and allowed 13 earned runs on 22 hits and 9 walks while throwing a whopping 314 pitches.
"Just falling behind, with this kind of (Indians) lineup that these guys have, they grind you out," Ventura said. "If you're not willing to be in the strike zone, you're going to give them some extra opportunities. And then, being able to stay away from the middle of the plate, it just has to be better."
Paulino served up 3 home runs before making an early exit, which was vocally approved by the big crowd of 27,332.
"My arm is OK," Paulino said. "I feel like everything is coming right now OK. The thing right now is just try to understand the situation, what has happened to me the last two years. Just keep working and figure out the little things I'm looking for to be successful and try to go deep into the game.
"That's what I'm looking for right now. I throw too many pitches. I have to figure it out. It's about adjustments in this game. I still battle there. We'll see what happens."
As for the bullpen, Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb are the only relievers with ERAs under 2.00. Overall, the unit has a 7.53 ERA along with 20 walks in 34.2 innings.
"If they're coming in early, lately we've been having to have guys go 2 innings," Ventura said. "You just can't keep up that kind of pace. (Starters) have to go deeper into a game."
If the White Sox were getting any kind of consistent pitching, they likely would be much better than a 6-6 team.
"Everything will come around and we'll be just fine," Adam Eaton said. "I love seeing the fight."
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