New-look bullpen buoying White Sox

August, 4, 2012
8/04/12
12:53
AM CT
By Chris Silva
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The White Sox’s bullpen returned home a deeper and healthier unit, which was evident during the team’s 8-6 10th-inning comeback win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

[+] EnlargeMatt Thornton
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireThe White Sox's stingy bullpen helped offset early struggles by Phil Humber in Friday's win.

While Alex Rios provided the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th, it was the collective work of the Sox relievers that put the team in a position to win. One after another, Nate Jones, Brett Myers, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings against a dangerous Angels lineup that had roughed up starter Phil Humber. It was the kind of bullpen outing that's reassuring for a team challenging for a playoff position.

“We’ve got guys consistently battling when they go out there, giving us a chance to do stuff like that in the end,” manager Robin Ventura said.

The Sox’s bullpen has been stellar of late, thanks to the addition of the veteran Myers, who was acquired from Houston on July 21, and a healthy Crain, who returned from the DL on July 21. Sox relievers own a 0.89 ERA and have held opponents to a .171 batting average over the past 11 games. They’ve kept opposing hitters to a .133 average with runners in scoring position over the past 10 games.

The Sox’s relievers allowed just three hits Friday and struck out six, including a pair each from Myers and Crain. Los Angeles left five runners on base from the seventh inning on, four of which were runners in scoring position.

Thornton, who got out of the final jam of the night by getting Albert Pujols to end the 10th with a ground out, had high praise for his fellow relievers.

“Today was the first I’ve seen Jesse back to his normal self, with the stint to the DL and the kind of up-and-down year he’s had so far,” Thornton said. “Brett’s been a great addition. He’s throwing the ball so well for us, and I think he’s going to be a humungous addition for us. We’re going to have up-and-downs with it just like anywhere else, but the problem is, when we have a down [outing] in the bullpen, it usually costs us a game, so it’s going to be blown out of proportion a little bit.

“So it’s something I’ve tried to tell the young guys: just stay even-keeled, keep on coming to work every day and be ready to go every day.”

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.03 110 102
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .292
HRJ. Abreu 29
RBIJ. Abreu 74
RJ. Abreu 51
OPSJ. Abreu .961
ERAC. Sale 2.03
SOJ. Quintana 115