CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has learned to live with the early outing struggles from Gavin Floyd. Right now, as the Sox take a six-man rotation into the final months of the regular season, quality starts are of the utmost importance in an effort to keep the bullpen fresh.
First innings have never really been Floyd’s strong suit throughout his nine-year career, and while he’s improved out of the gate this season, he’s still prone to rocky starts like Saturday against the Angels.
Floyd gave up three runs on two hits and three walks in the first inning before settling down for the most part and lasting into the seventh. It allowed the Sox a chance at victory and the bullpen no more work than it had the previous night.
“He battled through it and got us to a point where we could tie it back up,” manager Robin Ventura said after the Sox’s 6-5 10th-inning loss. “Just couldn't get that one more [run]. Those are tough games. We play a lot of close games. This is not anything new for us.”
Neither is it unfamiliar territory for Floyd, who allowed five runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. His 114th and final pitch of the night was one he’d probably like to have back, as slugger Albert Pujols crushed it over the left field wall in the seventh.
Look at Floyd’s career numbers by inning breakdown and in the 172 first innings he’s pitched throughout his career, he’s allowed a total of 168 hits, 93 runs and 70 walks -- the most hits and walks totals of any inning in his career. (He’s also allowed 93 runs in his fifth-inning appearances.) Floyd’s starts haven’t been as slow this season, though, as he’s allowed 19 hits and eight runs in first frames.
Of Floyd’s 41 pitches in the first inning, 21 were balls. He didn’t issue a walk after the first inning.
“I give him credit because he saved our bullpen by giving us 6 1/3,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “He should be proud because he was able to -- after a 40-pitch first inning -- to still almost give us seven innings. Although it wasn’t the best start in the world, he still kept us in the game. It got really ugly, but he battled and fought. Something I told him he should be proud of, because while it wasn’t his best start, he saved everyone else on the team by going as deep as he did and giving us the innings he gave us.”
For now, that’s good enough for the Sox.