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updated: 7/5/2014 11:04 PM

Still an opening for White Sox' closing act

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  • White Sox relief pitcher Ronald Belisario kicks the dirt after giving up a single to the Mariners' Michael Saunders in the 14th inning Saturday. Saunders later scored the winning run on a double by Brad Miller.

      White Sox relief pitcher Ronald Belisario kicks the dirt after giving up a single to the Mariners' Michael Saunders in the 14th inning Saturday. Saunders later scored the winning run on a double by Brad Miller.
    Associated Press

 
 

In order to have a closer controversy, you must first have a closer.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, they do not.

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The top two candidates to replace traded closer Addison Reed -- Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom -- are on the disabled list.

Jones still is recovering from back surgery, and there is no timetable on his return. Lindstrom, who was shaky in the ninth inning before needing ankle surgery in late May, is at least a month away from returning.

Manager Robin Ventura has little choice but to use the relief pitchers he has available, and Zach Putnam got the call against the Mariners on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.

Putnam, who bounced between the Indians, Rockies and Cubs the last three seasons, developed into a solid middle reliever with the Sox after replacing Jones in April.

But closing games is a completely different animal, and it was painfully evident in the White Sox' eventual 3-2 loss to Seattle in 14 innings.

In a game that started out as a pitchers duel between Jose Quintana and Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the Sox finally broke through with 2 runs in the eighth inning.

Conor Gillaspie led off with a triple and scored the first run of the game on Dayan Viciedo's double. Moises Sierra, who ran for Viciedo, wound up scoring on Tyler Flowers' sacrifice fly to give the White Sox what appeared to be a safe lead.

In the ninth inning, manager Robin Ventura called on left-hander Eric Surkamp to face left-handed Robinson Cano, and he was quickly lifted after issuing a 5-pitch walk.

Putnam replaced Surkamp, and Seattle rallied to tie the game with 3 hits.

In the 14th inning, Ronald Belisario, another failed closer this season, yielded an RBI double to shortstop Brad Miller and that was the game.

The White Sox have blown 11 save opportunities this season.

Even though he is not an ideal closer candidate, Putnam blamed himself for the loss.

"I think there's definitely probably a different approach from the opposing club in the ninth inning, a close game like that," he said. "The intensity is probably a little bit higher. But I feel like for a reliever like myself or anybody else in any bullpen, your job is to go out there and get three outs, just like it is in the eighth or the seventh or any other inning.

"I didn't do that in enough time today and hopefully I'll try it again the next time I'm called upon."

Will Ventura call on Putnam again in a save situation? Will he go with Jake Petricka? Javy Guerra? Daniel Webb?

There appears to be no firm answer at the moment.

"We just didn't get it done," Ventura said. "Right now we're at the point where we're using different people in that spot and every once in awhile those guys are going to give up runs. And when they do, it's going to look like a blown save, but we're rotating around guys until somebody really emerges."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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