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updated: 5/24/2014 8:03 PM

Sox lose as Belisario blows 3-0 lead

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  • John Danks threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and throwing 104 pitches Saturday against the Yankees. But the Sox' lefty came away with a no-decision after Ronald Belisario allowed 3 runs in the ninth.

      John Danks threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and throwing 104 pitches Saturday against the Yankees. But the Sox' lefty came away with a no-decision after Ronald Belisario allowed 3 runs in the ninth.
    Associated Press

  • White Sox's Paul Konerko reacts after being called out on strikes during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Chicago on Saturday, May 24, 2014. The Yankees won 4-3.

      White Sox's Paul Konerko reacts after being called out on strikes during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Chicago on Saturday, May 24, 2014. The Yankees won 4-3.
    Associated Press

 

Give Robin Ventura credit for best encapsulating Saturday's 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field.

"It's a tough game," Ventura said. "It's cruel, a lot of the time."

Baseball is particularly cruel to teams that don't have established closers, and the White Sox definitely fit that profile.

After starter John Danks pitched his best game since coming back from shoulder surgery exactly one year ago -- 8 scoreless innings -- Ronald Belisario came on in the ninth with a 3-0 lead.

An effective setup man for the Sox, Belisario moved to the very back of the bullpen when Matt Lindstrom went down for at least three months last week with an ankle injury that required surgery.

Despite allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits in 2 innings during his first two opportunities, Belisario came away with saves both times out.

He wasn't so lucky Saturday, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk in the ninth inning as a subpar Yankees team rallied to tie the game and then won it in the 10th on Jacoby Ellsbury's two-out home run off Zach Putnam.

"That's the game," Belisario said. "I'm making good pitches. They hit it. I don't even know where. No luck today."

Even with one of the most potent offenses in baseball, the Sox figure to linger around the .500 mark until they find a closer that can consistently come through. Lindstrom, another reliever best suited for setup duty, couldn't do it and neither can Belisario.

Is it time to give Daniel Webb a shot to close? Jake Petricka? Putnam? Maybe Javy Guerra, who has yet to make an appearance since coming up from Class AAA Charlotte last Tuesday?

"Well, I think we're at a point where we've got other guys that have the ability to do it," Ventura said, without mentioning names. "I mean, whether we're going to do that right now, it's not the time to do that right now. But (Belisario) was throwing strikes; it's not like he was walking guys all over the park. It's a tough inning. You tip your hat to them for coming back and getting it done there."

Heading into Saturday, the White Sox led the majors with 40 runs scored in the ninth inning. That is an impressive stat that speaks to their tenacity, but they've allowed 27 runs in the ninth.

"It's kind of the same, but there are some differences," Belisario said about being on the mound in the ninth inning. "You have to finish the game to win it."

Maybe Belisario gets another opportunity to close, or maybe it's Webb, Petricka, Putnam or Guerra, who saved 21 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011.

Maybe the Sox patch it together and wait on injured reliever Nate Jones (back) to return around the all-star break. There are a lot of ninth-inning balls up the air right now, and it's not hard to see why quality closers are so hard to find.

"It's not the easiest job, surely," Danks said. "There's a reason why some guys can do it and some guys can't. It's not about stuff, it's just a different mindset in the ninth. Sometimes it seems like the strike zone might shrink or guys are giving you tougher at-bats."

The way Danks was cruising Saturday in front of a crowd of 33,413, feel free to second-guess the Sox for not letting the left-hander complete the game. Danks threw 104 pitches.

"You think it, but if a guy gets on, you're going to go get him anyway," Ventura said. "So you want to give the guy (Belisario) every chance there was. You got the first (out) and after that they put something together.

"You see the way John threw, and he was fantastic, I mean he was great, so you just take that out of it and look for tomorrow."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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