Humble Humber was all things for Sox
April, 25, 2011
By Doug Padilla
NEW YORK -- The last pitcher to make the Chicago White Sox roster out of spring training was the first to nearly tackle all of the White Sox’s problems in a single game.
Phil Humber had an answer for the White Sox’s struggles on offense: hold the other team without a run.
He tried to solve the bullpen woes by nearly throwing a no-hitter (Chris Sale and Sergio Santos ended up helping out in the end). Alex Rodriguez got the first Yankees hit in the seventh inning.
And with the Yankees barely making solid contact, the defense had no issues.
“To pitch the way he did against that lineup, it’s pretty amazing,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He did a tremendous job. I think he was spotting the ball very well and he threw strikes. He wasn’t behind that many guys. That’s why he had success.”
Humber might not have even been on the Yankee Stadium mound on Monday night if Jake Peavy didn’t have a setback in his recovery form latissimus dorsi surgery. Humber embraced the opportunity by giving up just that one hit over seven innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
“We said when Peavy went down, Phil has great stuff,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “There’s a reason he was the overall third pick, and he can do it. He’s just got to throw strikes and believe in himself. Every start he’s been good. Last start he kind of got wild.
“We just focused on throwing strikes and he did with all four pitches and keeping them off-balanced, getting ground balls and changing speeds. To navigate this lineup and to throw a shutout against this lineup is pretty impressive.”
Humber was as cool as they come even in a nerve-wracking seventh inning. After a one-out walk to Mark Teixeira, Rodriguez singled up the middle. Not only was the no-hitter lost, but the 1-0 lead was in jeopardy as the Yankees had two runners on base.
Humber got out of the mess by striking out Robinson Cano and getting Nick Swisher on a groundout to first base. And when he emerged from the tension-filled moment, he didn’t pump his fist, roar in excitement or call attention to himself in any way. He slowly walked off the field.
“I’ve been watching these guys in the rotation go out and throw quality starts,” said Humber. “Seems like everyone is going six or seven innings and I wanted to join the club. I wanted to give them good innings and keep it close and give us a chance to win.”
Humber said his two-seam fastball had a lot of movement. Pierzynski said he mixed in some quality changeups. Guillen complimented his command. But a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium?
“I knew I hadn’t given up a hit about the fifth or sixth but I was a long way away from throwing a no-hitter,” said Humber, who remained humble on a night he could have pounded his chest. “I was trying to keep them from scoring and give our team a chance to win.”
He got the win and earned a whole lot of respect. Nobody will dare make fun of his suede loafers now, the ones that are sewn together with real red baseball stitches. Humber said they were a gift from his brother-in-law.
“It was nice to come here and have a good outing,” he said before heading into the city, probably to celebrate with a glass of milk … and maybe even a cookie. “It’s a nice town. What can I say, I love New York.”