CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has frequented the mound 68 times to call upon his bullpen since September arrived.
Through the month’s first 11 games, the bullpen was hit-or-miss for Ventura, allowing 28 runs. Lately, though, it’s become more dependable, and that was case again Monday in the White Sox’s 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Ventura went to bullpen five times Monday, and the five White Sox’s relievers combined to allow one hit and no runs in five innings.
In the past four games, which were all wins, 13 White Sox relievers have combined to give up five hits and one run in 13 innings.
Nate Jones carried the load in Monday’s win. He was called up in the fifth inning after starter Jose Quintana allowed a double and single to start the inning. Jones started off shaky, allowing a single to Delmon Young to score a run, but from there he settled down. He retired the next seven hitters he faced.
Jones has made 15 consecutive scoreless appearances and again fell in line for the win. He’s now 8-0 on the season.
“Nate picked the bullpen up big time today going those couple innings,” fellow White Sox reliever Brett Myers said. “That’s huge. He stepped up, threw the ball great. He dominated them today. That’s huge. That’s a big step for us to have him throwing the ball well right now.”
Ventura rode Jones until Prince Fielder came to the plate in the seventh inning. In a loss to the Tigers on Wednesday, Ventura opted for Leyson Septimo to face Fielder in a key situation in the seventh inning, and Septimo allowed a three-run home run.
Ventura went with Donnie Veal this time around, and Veal came through for him. Veal retired Fielder for the fourth time in the last eight days. Veal has yet to allow a hit to a lefty in 24 at-bats this season.
“There’s no secret,” said Veal, who lowered his ERA to 0.82. “I use a lot of breaking balls. He’s a very good hitter, a very aggressive hitter. If you leave anything over the heart of the plate, breaking ball, fastball, whatever, he can do damage. Like I said, a lot of breaking balls, but just try to let him get himself out.”
Next, Ventura went to Myers in the eighth, and Myers forced two groundouts and struck out another hitter. Myers began the ninth and got Quintin Berry to ground out.
Ventura made one final jaunt to the mound and brought in his closer, Addison Reed, to pitch to Austin Jackson. Jackson had tripled previously this season off Reed, but Reed got the best of him on Monday. Jackson flew out to right field to finish the game. It was Reed’s 27th save of the season.
“Yeah, they pitched great,” Ventura said of the bullpen. “Again, it’s exciting. It’s fun for these guys to come in this situation. They're having fun. That's the one thing, they're coming in they're excited to pitch. They're getting the job done.”