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updated: 8/4/2014 11:19 PM

White Sox win but are still looking for some relief

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  • White Sox starting pitcher Hector Noesi got the victory in Monday night's rain-shortened victory over the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field.

      White Sox starting pitcher Hector Noesi got the victory in Monday night's rain-shortened victory over the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

Heading into spring training, the White Sox' bullpen shaped up as fairly decent, with Nate Jones the favorite to replace traded closer Addison Reed.

After that it was veterans Matt Lindstrom and Scott Downs, promising youngsters Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka, and Ronald Belisario, Mitchell Boggs, Javy Guerra and Maikel Cleto, who all came to camp with major-league experience.

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A great group it wasn't, but the Sox felt fairly confident the unit would be able to hold its own over the course of the 162-game schedule.

As it turns out, the White Sox' bullpen has been a big trouble spot from the beginning of spring.

It started when Jones and Lindstrom, expected to be the best two relievers, went down with injuries.

Jones never came back from hip and back issues, and last week he had Tommy John surgery, which figures to cost him the entire 2015 season as well.

Lindstrom did recover from a spring oblique injury, but he was overmatched when moved into the closer's role, and the right-hander has been out since May with an ankle injury.

Losing Jones for the year and Lindstrom for nearly half of the season has made life difficult for manager Robin Ventura, not that he's complaining.

"These are our guys," he said. "They're going to go back out there and figure out what to do. There are times when they go out and do it. It's not every time they go out there that they're not going to get the job done. It's just consistency to be able to do it."

In Sunday's 16-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the bullpen tied a franchise record by allowing 15 runs.

Heading into Monday night's game against the Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field, Sox relievers had allowed 28 earned runs on 39 hits in 20 innings over the last seven games.

The bullpen ranked near the bottom in the American League with a 4.30 ERA, a 59.5 save percentage and 269 strikeouts while ranking first with 175 walks.

Against Texas, starting pitcher Hector Noesi (6-8) went 7 innings after the threat of rain caused a 20-minute delay.

Thanks to Noesi's solid outing and big offensive nights from catcher Tyler Flowers (3-for-3, home run, triple, 3 RBI), Jose Abreu (2-run single) and Adam Eaton (2-for-2, 2 walks), the White Sox beat the Rangers 5-3 after the game was called due to heavy rain in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Sunday's latest bullpen blowup was arguably the Sox' low point of the season, but Ventura didn't let it linger.

"It can be tough at times, but that's part of your job -- go back out and find a way to do it," he said. "You get a clean slate and you go back out and do it. It's harder to do sometimes than other times, but when it's hard, that's when you really need to pull up and be able to do it.

"On the other hand, there's not another option. You either go out and face it or you don't play baseball anymore. It's pretty simple."

The Sox purchased Cleto's contract from Class AAA Charlotte before the game after sending down Taylor Thompson on Sunday.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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